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6 Tips to Sleep Better with Asthma 

Malena Piper

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Getting an uninterrupted night of sleep is critical to a healthy lifestyle, but that prospect might seem out of reach if you suffer from asthma. Nocturnal asthma disrupts your circadian rhythm and can leave you feeling exhausted and irritable throughout the day. Let’s take a closer look at some of the common asthma symptoms that typically get worse at night time…

Sleep Problems Caused by Asthma

Asthma causes a wide range of respiratory problems, including chest tightness and wheezing, snoring, coughing, sneezing, and even shortness of breath, which is triggered by the tightening of your bronchial tubes and the inflammation of your lungs and airways. Nighttime asthma also aggravates acid reflux, and it can leave you at a greater risk for developing both insomnia and sleep apnea.

Fortunately, you don’t have to lose sleep worrying about these problems. Here are a few methods and remedies that you can explore to reduce poor sleep quality and enjoy a better night of sleep:

Tip #1: Sleep in a Clean Environment

Healthy sleep starts with a clean bedroom. It’s important to regularly dust and vacuum your sleeping space, and you should always ensure that your bedroom windows are closed to reduce airborne pollen, a common irritant to many asthma sufferers.

According to Dr. Gina Nguyen, you should wash your sheets and pillowcases every week in hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) to kill dust mites and eliminate allergens that find their way into your bedding. It is also a good idea to wash your pillows and spot clean your mattress every 6 to 8 months to prevent dust, dirt, and bacteria from collecting.

Tip #2: Try an Air Humidifier or Air Purifier

Both air humidifiers and air purifiers can be helpful in easing night-time asthma symptoms. Air purifiers refresh stale air circulating in the bedroom and reduce the number of indoor air pollutants like dust, dirt, and pollen—all common culprits in an asthma attack.

Air humidifiers are a great solution for people suffering from asthma, bronchitis, or sinusitis because they reduce dust mite populations that thrive in environments with low humidity. Humid air also reduces excess mucus and throat dryness which is aggravated by cold, dry air.

It is also a good idea to avoid sleeping with an electric fan since they can stir up dust and pollen and make asthma symptoms worse.

Tip #3: Test a Different Sleep Position

The way your body is positioned during sleep can impact your overall sleep quality, and it’s even more important for people who deal with nocturnal asthma. Ensure your head and neck are comfortably supported and slightly elevated to reduce postnasal drip, a common irritant for asthma. Don’t lie flat on your back, as this puts pressure on your lungs and makes it even harder for your respiratory system to do its job. In most cases, the best sleeping position is right-side sleeping. This position promotes a healthy, neutral spine and alleviates pressure on the heart and lungs.

While sleeping on your stomach can benefit sleep apnea and reduce snoring, it’s been known to cause back, neck, and shoulder issues, so it’s not recommended for most people.

Tip #4: Use Dust-Proof Bedding

Consider updating your bedroom with new dust-proof mattresses, such as memory foam beds or hybrid mattresses, to keep dust mites out of your blankets and pillows and promote a healthier sleeping environment. Dust-proof and zippered pillowcases also offer effective protection from dust mites and provide a better night of sleep for people struggling with nocturnal asthma.

Tip #5: Talk to Your Doctor

Like any other health issue you’re experiencing, it’s important to talk to your doctor so you can discuss the best ways for treating your nocturnal asthma. Along with asthma medications and specialized steroids, your doctor may prescribe a preventer inhaler or reliever inhaler to help you protect your airways and experience a better night of sleep.

Inhalers transmit medicine directly into your airways, which is generally where it’s needed most when you’re suffering from asthma. When used consistently over time, preventer inhalers can also help your body’s respiratory system become less sensitive to common asthma triggers.

Tip #6: Turn Up the Bedroom Temperature

It’s no secret that dry, cold air triggers and worsens asthma symptoms at night. Experts agree that the best temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Increasing your home’s thermostat can make for a more expensive utility bill, but it’s important in the winter when nocturnal asthma is at its worst. Sleeping in a warm environment can do wonders for your respiratory health when you’re suffering from asthma.

Sleeping on breathable, high-quality cotton sheets can also help reduce night sweats and overheating.

Reducing Asthma Symptoms Leads to a Better Sleep

So why is it so important to reduce your nocturnal asthma symptoms and enjoy a better night of sleep? For starters, reducing your asthma symptoms leads to a boosted and strengthened immune system, leaving you better equipped to fight off colds and infections.

Getting better sleep is the best way to combat excessive daytime sleepiness, and it also reduces your long-term risk of developing high blood pressure and heart attacks.

As an added bonus, better sleep also leads to a healthier weight. Well-rested bodies experience a reduction in ghrelin, an appetite-boosting hormone, as well as better regulation of leptin, a hormone that tells your brain that your stomach is full.

FAQs

How many people suffer from asthma?

If you’re struggling with asthma and getting a good night of sleep – you’re not alone. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, about 20 million Americans are affected by asthma.

Do asthma symptoms always get worse at night?

While many asthma sufferers experience aggravated symptoms at night, not all people with asthma suffer from nocturnal asthma. Be sure to talk to your doctor to discuss a personalized treatment plan that’s right for you.

How does an air purifier refresh stale air?

Air purifiers collect airborne dust, dander, mold, pollen, and other pollutants floating around in your bedroom and trap them inside the unit’s filter. The air purifier then releases clean and sanitized air to help you breathe easier.

Does bed placement impact nocturnal asthma?

Yes – how you position your bed in the bedroom can have an impact on your nocturnal asthma and the general quality of your sleep. Keep your bed away from the window to limit your exposure to cold and dry night air, as well as any pollen that might be getting inside. Also, it’s important to keep your mattress off the floor and elevated with a bed frame or mattress foundation. It keeps you further away from pollutants that might be on the bedroom floor or in the carpet, such as dirt, dust, pet dander, and more.

What’s the difference between a reliever inhaler and a preventive inhaler?

A preventive inhaler is generally used every day for long-term benefit. The medicine reduces inflammation in your airways and helps you become less sensitive to asthma triggers. A reliever inhaler is designed for on-the-go use whenever you feel your asthma symptoms getting worse. The reliever inhaler works fast to treat your symptoms so you’re less likely to suffer an asthma attack but generally provides very little long-term health benefit.

Conclusion

A wealth of health benefits await when you’re able to reduce your asthma symptoms and enjoy a better night of sleep.

If you’ve been having trouble coping with your nocturnal asthma, try sleeping in a clean environment that is free from pet dander, and using an air humidifier and/or air purifier. You can also test different sleeping positions, and you can utilize dust-proof bedding to reduce your body’s exposure to dust mites. Don’t forget to turn up your bedroom’s temperature, and as always, talk to your doctor to discover the best asthma treatment strategies for you and your loved ones.

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