6 Tips for COPD Sleep Success

What to know

Anywhere from one-third to one-half of all people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have sleep disorders. The consequences of not getting enough sleep include a weakened immune system and daytime sleepiness.

Causes of sleep problems

Coughing, chest pain, and medication side effects are sometimes to blame for lost sleep. Other possible causes include restless legs syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and obstructive sleep apnea—a condition characterized by repeated episodes of interrupted breathing while sleeping. Following are several sleep strategies to consider.

1. Practice good sleep hygiene

You’ll sleep more soundly if you’re truly tired at bedtime. Exercise may help. But avoid it close to bedtime and don't drink caffeinated beverages late in the day.

2. Be consistent

Maintain a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up around the same time each day, and try to skip naps during the day.

3. Adjust your medications

Talk to your doctor to make sure your inhalers and steroids are the right dose to get you through the night. If restless legs syndrome or GERD keep you awake, you may need medication to treat those conditions.

4. Stay away from sleeping pills

Sleep aids—either prescription or over-the counter—can be dangerous because they slow breathing and reduce your response to stimuli while sleeping.

5. Ask about oxygen

If your doctor determines that low blood oxygen levels contribute to your sleep problem, supplemental oxygen may help.

6. Deal with sleep apnea

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices deliver a steady stream of air through a nsaal mask that you wear overnight. If you avoided using a CPAP device in the past because it was unwieldy, you may want to reconsider. CPAP designs have improved significantly in recent years.

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HealthAfter50 was published by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, providing up-to-date, evidence-based research and expert advice on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of a wide range of health conditions affecting adults in middle age and beyond. It was previously part of Remedy Health Media's network of digital and print publications, which also include HealthCentral; HIV/AIDS resources The Body and The Body Pro; the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter; and the Berkeley Wellness website. All content from HA50 merged into Healthcentral.com in 2018.