Sleep helps our brain function properly. Not getting enough sleep, or a poor quality of sleep, has many potential consequences to our health and wellbeing. The most obvious concerns are fatigue, irritability, problems focusing, and challenges with decision making. Individuals who suffer with chronic sleep problems may often face symptoms of anxiety, depression, and mood disorders as a result. This can be a challenging cycle to break as inadequate sleep can exacerbate mental health conditions and these same conditions often will cause difficulty with sleep. Individuals with a chronic lung condition, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), often experience poor sleep quality; this likely contributes to the chronic fatigue, sleepiness, and overall impairment in quality of life reported by individuals with COPD.
Mild obstructive airway disease has little impact on sleep quality. However, as obstruction becomes more severe, there are an increasing number of sleep complaints with possibly more deleterious physiological effects. There is also an increased prevalence of insomnia, which is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep or hard to stay asleep. Furthermore, a higher use of sleeping medications and an increase in daytime sleepiness is reported by individuals with severe respiratory disease compared to the general population.
Sleep apnea is when breathing repeatedly stops and starts while asleep. Many people with sleep apnea snore very loudly and often feel tired during the day, even after a full night’s sleep.
Sleep apnea is not caused by respiratory disease but having a respiratory disease can make the symptoms of sleep apnea worse. People with sleep apnea often sleep better using a special mask that prevents breathing from stopping and starting during the night.
Symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and/or shortness of breath can wake a person up several times during the night. Some people find it helpful to sleep with their heads raised on 2 to 3 pillows to allow the lungs to expand more fully. There are also medications that can be used to treat these symptoms.
Breathing patterns change when we are asleep. For people with respiratory disease, this change can cause a low level of oxygen in the blood at different times during the night. This can make individuals with respiratory disease have poor quality of sleep and feel tired during the day. The lack of oxygen in the blood can lead to many other problems. If you are experiencing sleeping problems, consult with your healthcare provider to see if low levels of oxygen in the blood are the cause. If so, you might be recommended to have oxygen therapy during the night. Oxygen therapy is a treatment that delivers oxygen gas for you to breathe via tubes resting in your nose, a face mask, or a tube placed in your trachea or windpipe. This treatment increases the amount of oxygen your lungs receive and is delivered to your blood.
Anxiety and depression can both cause insomnia. Treatment for anxiety or depression can help reduce these sleep problems.
If you are experiencing sleeping problems, you should let your healthcare provider know.
Your routine during the day, and especially before bedtime, can have a major impact on your sleep. They can promote healthy sleep or contribute to sleeplessness. Practicing healthy sleep habits, or sleep hygiene, can significantly impact your quality of sleep.
Foods that are rich in magnesium help relax muscles and aid in inducing a sleepy state. High sources of magnesium include greens, leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, edamame, bananas, avocados, beans, nuts, and seeds.
Certain foods contain an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps produce serotonin and melatonin, the hormones that set our sleep-wake cycles. Foods containing tryptophan include:
Receive exercise training, breathing techniques, and educational tools tailored to your respiratory condition and fitness level on the iMaster Health Online Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program. Sign up today and enjoy a 7 DAY FREE TRIAL!