When was the last time you got a good night's sleep? If you have COPD, you may not remember. While getting enough quality sleep is important to all of us, it is especially important to people who have chronic respiratory illnesses like COPD because a well-rested body gives you the energy you need to complete activities of daily living and to breathe more efficiently. It also improves your mood and your overall health.
So, how do you get a good night's sleep when you are plagued with COPD symptoms during the night? Here are some important do's and don'ts:
- Review your medications with your health care provider. Medication side effects can keep you up at night and if you need to make a medication adjustment, you should only do so under the care of a licensed health care provider.
- Talk to your health care provider about using oxygen therapy at night. Some people with COPD find that doing so helps them sleep more soundly. Remember, because oxygen is a drug, you should only use it under the care of your health care provider.
- Talk to your health care provider about non-invasive positive-pressure ventilation (NIPPV) such as CPAP if you suffer from sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. CPAP during sleep has been found to improve day and nighttime oxygen saturation levels and may help you sleep better.
- Talk to your health care provider about taking a safe sleeping aid. Because of the risk of respiratory depression during sleep, you should think twice about taking anything that interferes with your breathing. Your health care provider can go over this with you, and prescribe the best medication for your individual needs.
- Practice meditation or relaxation techniques at bedtime. Important to physical and emotional health, practicing these while trying to fall asleep will help you relax and let go of the day.
- Seek treatment for underlying lung infections that may affect your breathing during sleep. Untreated respiratory infections can have negative effects on your breathing, your sleep and your health.
- Keep the room you sleep in cozy, quiet, dark and cool. This is part of a solid sleep hygiene program that will help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.
- Use your bed for sleep and sex only. If you don't fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes, get up and do something else until you feel more tired.
- Practice chest physiotherapy and airway clearance techniques throughout the day and before bedtime to remove the build up of secretions in your airways. Clearing your airways will make breathing easier so you can get the rest you need.
- Take naps in the daytime, even if you feel tired. While it may be tempting, taking a cat nap may interfere with your ability to get a normal night's sleep.
- Drink caffeinated beverages or, if you must have your caffeine fix, do it early in the day so it won't affect your sleep. Remember, caffeine is a stimulant that will keep you wired for sound and unable to sleep.
- Exercise too close to bedtime. Doing so can keep your body from shutting down for the night and prevent you from falling asleep. (But do exercise in general, as it's great for you!)
- Sleep lying flat if you find it increases your shortness of breath. Prop yourself up on several pillows or place a block under the bed posts at the head of the bed to help you get into a more comfortable position for sleep.