COPD & Sleep - How to Get a Good Night's Rest!

Health Professional

When you have COPD, getting enough rest is essential. Of course, even people without COPD need sleep, but people who suffer from COPD use up much greater energy resources just to get through the day. So, when they do go to bed, they need to know they're going to get a good night's rest.

Sleep recharges your energy, helps cells and tissues to recover somewhat from the stresses of the day and also provides some temporary relief from the demands of everyday life that COPD'ers struggle with. And when you are well-rested, you'll be able to breathe more efficiently, have the energy to do your daily activities and also feel more hopeful and positive about each day.

But the problem is that COPD symptoms can sometimes make it hard to breathe. Just lying down can cause shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing in some people. So, how do you get that sleep you so desperately need to face the next day?

Tips for Getting Restful Sleep Even with COPD

This post will provide a few helpful tips on how to get the sleep you need, despite the challenges of COPD.

1. Elevate your head for sleeping. Lying flat makes it harder to breathe. So sleep with your head on 2 or more pillows, stick a wedge pillow under your shoulders or even put blocks under the head of your bed.

2. Practice some meditative relaxation & deep breathing before bedtime. Lie or sit quietly and breathe in and out as deeply as you can for 5 to 15 minutes before going to sleep. This can help clear your airways of mucus a bit, enable you to let go of the stresses and worries of the day and put you in a calm, relaxed state conducive to sleep.

3. Use supplemental oxygen at bedtime. If you are on oxygen around the clock, then be sure not to turn it off at bedtime But if you only use oxygen "as needed" or are not using it at all and you're having trouble sleeping, then talk to your doctor about whether using supplemental oxygen at bedtime and throughout the night might be beneficial for you.

4. Talk to your doctor about medication options. An over-the-counter hormone called Melatonin is useful for some people having sleep difficulties. Melatonin is a hormone already found normally in the human body, but sometimes taking an extra dose at bedtime can help you feel sleepier. Talk with your doctor about whether Melatonin would be safe for you to take or if there is another option. My mother was OK'd to use Tylenol PM, which is simply Tylenol with Benadryl. It seems to work for her and is not much of a respiratory depressant, which means it is safer than many sleeping pills.

5. Reserve the last couple of hours before bed for "wind-down" time. Try to avoid exercising or drinking caffeinated beverages during this time, as either one could interfere with your ability to drop off to sleep quickly. Try not to nap during the day, too, as that can also make it harder to sleep at night!

So, there are just a few tips on how to get a good night's rest, even with COPD. Hope you find them helpful.