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How To Sleep With Asthma

Asthma And Breathing Exercises

Asthma & Sleep

Exercising can be more challenging when you have asthma, especially if youre worried it might set off an asthma attack. But exercise is beneficial for your overall health and your asthma. In fact, having regular exercise could result in improving your asthma symptoms, as increasing your heart rate helps improve your lung power, boost stamina and reduce breathlessness.

In addition, regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of an asthma attack. Exercising also releases chemicals in your brain called endorphins, which can raise your mood and help you feel better.

The best types to do if you have asthma are:

  • Swimming the warm moist air in a swimming pool is asthma-friendly. Swimming is a good low-impact cardiovascular workout that helps the whole of your body and especially the muscles you use for breathing.
  • Walking ; walking is a great way to improve your fitness, especially if you need to build up slowly.
  • Cycling ; steady cycling can improve movement and endurance levels, without overstraining the lungs.
  • Jogging jogging can help strengthen the muscles you use for breathing, as well as improve your fitness as a whole.
  • Team sports team sports that involve short bursts of physical activity, such as netball, volleyball, football or athletics can be good choices to try.

How Do You Sleep With Asthma

You can sleep better with asthma if you:

Make sure to clean your room regularly, especially your bedding.

Wash your bedding in hot water at least once a week.

Use a dust-proof mattress and pillow protectors.

Invest in a humidifier.

Avoid sleeping with pets even if you feel compelled to or think nothing will happen if you sleep just one night with them. It is recommended to keep them outside during the night.

Keep your head up, this will help you breathe better and relieve your lungs from the pressure of the gravity.

Make sure you get tested by a professional to rule out sleep apnea.

The Dangers Of Breathless Nights

Asthma symptoms that come on at night will naturally interfere with your sleep, especially if you cant get the chest tightness and breathlessness under control quickly. But consistently losing sleep can lead to a range of other sleep-related health problems that can, in turn, make your asthma symptoms worse.

In order to break the cycle, you need to appreciate the severity of the situation. When you suffer from asthma and poor sleep quality, you are far more prone to:


Nobody is at their best when theyve slept poorly, but sufferers can experience;extreme fatigue with asthma, making it near impossible to keep up with daily tasks. The problem is that asthma consistently restricts your breathing, and restricted breathing limits the amount of oxygen that gets to your muscles and organs in the first place. Add to this a sleepless night and youll get a double dose of exhaustion.

Sleep Apnea

This condition is not limited to those with respiratory conditions, but it can be more common and more serious when you live with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease .

Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing for several seconds at a time, and though it may not send you into a full-blown asthma attack, it is known to increase your need for rescue inhalers and decrease your quality of life throughout the day. Uncontrolled sleep apnea can also lead to cardiovascular conditions and stroke.


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How To Get A Better Night’s Sleep

Coping with disturbed nights because of your childs asthma can be difficult. You might also find it hard to sleep if youre worrying about their asthma.

Try these tips:

  • Read through your childs written asthma action plan regularly so youre confident about what to do if they have asthma symptoms at night.
  • Jot down any worries and how youll deal with them for example, if you’re worried about your child’s cough at night, make a note that you’ll book an appointment with their GP or asthma nurse in the morning. This can help clear your mind so you feel more able to sleep.
  • with other parents on our asthma forum or read parents’ stories to find out how others cope.
  • our Helpline on 0300 222 5800 to speak to an asthma nurse specialist about your child’s night time symptoms. Or you can WhatsApp them on 07378 606 728.

Tips To Prevent Nighttime Asthma Attacks

Can asthma affect your sleep?

Nighttime asthma attacks can be controlled. Take these steps to sleep better with severe asthma.

Many people with severe asthma find that symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness are worse at night. There are a number of reasons why this is so, says Sonali Bose, MD, an assistant professor in the division of medicine, pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

Some key factors that contribute to nighttime asthma attacks include:

  • Your bodys internal clock. Your circadian rhythm causes some of your hormone levels to fall at night. Lower levels of hormones can cause your airways to narrow slightly. These narrowed airways can exacerbate your asthma symptoms, according to the Asthma Society of Canada .
  • Dust mites. Your pillows, blankets, and mattress can all be a haven for these microscopic insect-like pests and their waste. Allergies to dust mites can worsen asthma, and you could be wallowing in them as you sleep, according to the ASC.
  • Gravity. When you lie down, your chest and lungs naturally experience extra pressure, the ASC says.

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What Is Nocturnal Asthma

Asthma is a long-term, chronic respiratory disease, caused by the inflammation of the airways. When this condition worsens overnight, we call it nocturnal asthma or nighttime asthma. Regardless of the type of asthma you have, including allergic, non-allergic, occupational, and exercise-induced asthma, nocturnal asthma can occur more than once a month.

Over the past decade, the prevalence of asthma in adults and children has increased in the United States. The California Health Interview Survey states that 15.9% of asthma cases were reported in Orange County in 2015-2017. Although there is no cure for asthma, the symptoms can be managed through long-term medications and short-term quick-relief inhalers. A few home remedies and other tips can also help patients with nocturnal asthma sleep better.

What Triggers Asthma Attacks At Night

  • Colder airways work less effectively, resulting in a narrowing that causes wheezing and coughing at night. However, before turning up the heating, its important to consider the effect of overheating at night, particularly for babies and young children. Learn more about baby sleeping temperatures.
  • Lying flat can also cause more wheezing and coughing at night due to a combination of factors, such as decreased lung volume and a build-up of catarrh in the airways.
  • Night-time allergies, such as allergic rhinitis, can cause catarrh to flow from the nose to the throat, triggering coughing and breathing difficulties at night. House dust mites are one of the most common causes of night-time allergies as they like to live in mattresses and bedding.
  • Incorrect medication use or dosage: regularly coughing and wheezing at night could be a sign that you are not taking your medicine effectively, or that the dosage or type of medication needs to be reviewed.

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Asthma And Sleeping Positions

What most of the current research concludes is that the effectiveness of certain sleeping positions over others may depend on the individual and their asthma severity. In my experience, falling asleep on my left side tends to make my airways feel more open, but trying to sleep on my back is extremely uncomfortable.

Contrary to my own sleeping patterns, research suggests that some asthmatics do experience fewer symptoms of nocturnal asthma while on their backs.2 Theres also evidence that lying on your side or on your stomach can possibly constrict your lung function and induce nocturnal asthma.1

Since medical researchers are still working to understand the true causation of nocturnal asthma, there may also be other factors involved.

Phase : Comparisons Between Children With Asthma And Controls

7 Tips to Prevent Nighttime Asthma Attacks


Although actual sleep time and conventional NREM and REM stages were not significantly different in the two groups, the sleep of the children with asthma showed very much higher rates of disruption by both brief and longer awakenings, producing a much reduced sleep efficiency .

Home polysomnographic findings and parental ratings of childs sleep quality impairment and daytime sleepiness: children with asthma at baseline compared with sex and age matched controls

Subjective impairment of childs sleep quality and daytime sleepiness

The impairment level of the children with asthma, as reported by parents on the sleep questionnaire, was very much higher than controls . In addition, daytime sleepiness was reported to be significantly higher in the asthmatic children.

Cognitive function

The children with asthma performed significantly worse than control subjects on the memory task of delayed recall. The median number of correct scores for the group with asthma was 8.0 and that of the control group was 16.5 . This difference was significant at the p<0.05 level. No significant differences were found on the other cognitive tests, although there was a trend towards poorer performance on the tests of immediate recall and sustained attention .

Mood and daytime behaviour

Mood and behaviour of group with asthma at baseline compared with controls

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How To Sleep With Asthma: Positions

To sleep with asthma, positions like sleeping on the side can be very helpful. If you suffer from asthma and have trouble sleeping properly because of shortness of breath, sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs can be helpful. Also, sleeping on your back with your head elevated by a pillow and your legs straight can also help

Make sure you keep your back straight.;

However, asthma can become a big problem since it can have a detrimental effect by keeping you wide awake at night.

You may be coughing, feeling a shortness of breath or a tight chest at night ,; know that there are some simple steps that can make your life easier and especially improve the quality of your sleep.

Moreover, according to Beth Orenstein from Everyday Health, there are some key factors that may be contributing to your night-time asthma attacks:

  • Your bodys internal clock. Your circadian rhythm causes some of your hormone levels to fall at night. Lower levels of hormones can cause your airways to narrow slightly. These narrowed airways can exacerbate your asthma symptoms, according to the Asthma Society of Canada .
  • Dust mites. Your pillows, blankets, and mattress can all be a haven for these microscopic insect-like pests and their waste. Allergies to dust mites can worsen asthma, and you could be wallowing in them as you sleep, according to the ASC.
  • Gravity. When you lie down, your chest and lungs naturally experience extra pressure, the ASC says.

How Asthma Is Treated

While there is no cure for asthma, there are a number of treatments that can help control the condition.

Treatment is based on two important goals, which are:

  • relieving symptoms;
  • preventing future symptoms and attacks

For most people, this will involve the occasional or, more commonly, daily use of medications, usually taken using an inhaler. However, identifying and avoiding possible triggers is also important.

You should have a personal asthma action plan agreed with your doctor or nurse that includes information about the medicines you need to take, how to recognise when your symptoms are getting worse, and what steps to take when they do so.

These symptoms are often worse at night and early in the morning, particularly if the condition is not well controlled. They may also develop or become worse in response to a certain trigger, such as exercise or exposure to an allergen.

Read our page on the;causes of asthma for more information about potential triggers.

Speak to your GP if you think you or your child may have asthma. You should also talk to your doctor or asthma nurse if you have been diagnosed with asthma and you are finding it difficult to control the symptoms.

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What Sleeping Position Is Best For Breathing

The best sleeping position to breathe better is sleeping on the side.

Some studies have shown that people with sleep apnea breathe much better when they are not on their back due to gravity.

According to Side-sleeping has long been known as the best sleeping position for breathing and to protect the airway from collapse.;

Reducing Asthma Symptoms Leads To A Better Sleep

Asthma And Sleep Apnea #TheSleepApneaStore Refferal ...

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.

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Phase : Changes In Children With Asthma Following Adjustment Of Treatment

Asthma severity

At baseline, children reported waking from between one or two nights a week to seven nights a week, with a mean of 4.3 nights a week. After treatment change, only three children still reported waking at night. Initially, 13 of 19 children who were questioned reported exercise limitation; this was reduced to one after treatment. Five children reported school disruption because of their asthma and this also decreased to one after treatment.

FEV1 and FEF2575 measured during clinic visits both improved, although not significantly . Mean PEFR, from home recordings, had significantly improved four weeks after treatment change, by which time diurnal variation in PEFR had also decreased significantly.

Physiological measures in children with asthma


The number of awakenings had decreased significantly at four weeks after treatment, to the point of being very similar to the rate seen in the normal control group . Other sleep variables showed no significant change.

Home polysomnographic findings and parental ratings of childs sleep quality impairment and daytime sleepiness in children with asthma

Subjective impairment of childs sleep quality and daytime sleepiness

Cognitive function

Mood and daytime behaviour

After four weeks, the childrens mood had improved significantly and their scores were significantly lower on the parent factor of learning problems .

Mood and behaviour ratings of children with asthma

Changes Following Treatment Of Nocturnal Asthma Symptoms

In general, the change of anti-asthma treatment for the nocturnal symptoms was associated with some improvements in measures of respiration, sleep, and psychological function. Parental reports indicated clinical improvement in their childs asthma and measures of respiratory function were better. Similarly, both subjective and objective findings indicated that sleep had improved. Although parental reports on this aspect showed some inconsistencies , sleep studies showed a marked improvement in awakenings. Some aspects of cognitive function, mood, and behaviour also appeared to have recovered, compared with pretreatment levels.

On the basis of these findings, it is tempting to attribute direct and simple causal connections between nocturnal asthma, sleep, and daytime psychological function, but this would be to pre-empt the further research needed to clarify the nature of the relations involved, to identify mediating factors, and to explain the inconsistencies in present reports.

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Positions To Reduce Shortness Of Breath

In conjunction with pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing, use these breathing positions to help you reduce shortness of breath.

These positions are helpful when you have shortness of breath during activity, emotional excitement, exposure to adverse weather conditions or when you feel tense and need to relax.

Tips From Other People With Asthma

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If your asthma is keeping you awake at night, youre not alone.

In our recent sleep survey, 45% of people told us they have difficulty sleeping because of their asthma at least once a week, and nearly 50% said theyd had an asthma attack at night.

Here are some of the things that people tell us help them get a good nights sleep, which our nurses agree might be helpful:

  • Ease a dry throat with a glass of water
  • Try a nasal saline rinse or;use decongestants to unblock a stuffy nose
  • Take regular exercise
  • Relax in the evening using mindfulness, meditation, breathing exercises or yoga
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.

If you find reading about other peoples experiences useful, or have some advice to share, join the conversations on our HealthUnlocked forum.

Is your child disturbed by symptoms at night? Read our advice on asthma and your childs sleep.

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Too Little Sleep Can Mean More Asthma Attacks In Adults

May 11, 2020

First study examining adults with asthma shows negative impacts of sleep deprivation.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. A good nights sleep is crucial to good health. A;new article;in;Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reveals that too little sleep, and occasionally too much sleep, can negatively impact adults with asthma.

Previous research revealed that poor sleep quality has a negative effect on asthma symptoms in adolescents, says Faith Luyster, PhD, lead author of the study. Our study shows that adults with asthma are equally affected by too little sleep. Compared to normal sleepers, short and long sleepers had a higher proportion of people who reported having an asthma attack in the past year and had more days with impaired health-related quality of life. Impaired quality of life was characterized by more days of poor physical and mental health.

The study surveyed 1,389 adults who were 20 years and older who self-identified as having asthma. Of the group, 25.9 percent slept 5 hours or less, 65.9 percent slept 6-8 hours and 8.2 percent slept 9 or more hours. Sleep duration was measured by a single question, How much sleep do you usually get at night on weekdays or workdays? Short sleepers were more likely to be younger and non-White, while long sleepers were more likely to be older, female and a smoker.


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