Those who suffer with COPD or other respiratory diseases may find it difficult trying to get a full night’s sleep. It is even more important for COPD sufferers than non-affected individuals to try and get a proper night’s sleep as your body tires easily during the day from trying to complete basic daily tasks and activities let alone if you are tired from not having slept the night before. A good night’s sleep will enable your body to have more energy so that you can socialize, perform normal daily tasks, breathe better and have an improved quality of life. In the summer months it can be particularly more difficult to try and sleep with the warm humid nights and external noises. However it is in these months that many people want to go out and do more activities to enjoy the good weather, so getting a full night’s sleep in the summer is particularly important.
There are also long term health benefits of sleeping, a lack of sleep has been linked to obesity and diabetes but also now research has shown that a lack of sleep can affect your long-term mental health and can cause memory problems and increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
A study in mice has shown that even brief periods of sleep deprivation can disrupt the chemical pathways in an area of the brain called the Hippocampus and affect the levels of certain enzymes and molecules, which resulted in a decrease of memory function.
Researchers from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health have linked disturbed sleep to cognitive impairment in older individuals. Their study suggested that reduced sleep and poor sleep quality may be linked to an increased build-up of beta-amyloid plaques in the brains of older adults, which is a major sign of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). AD is the most common form of dementia and almost half of older adults with the disorder report insomnia-based symptoms.
These studies suggest that whether you are young or old it is important to get a decent period of undisturbed sleep each night to prevent any imbalances/build-up of certain molecules within your brain, which long-term can potentially lead to a variety of mental disorders from memory impairment to Dementia.
Tips to help you sleep:
1. Talk to your GP about whether you need oxygen at night or how best to use/monitor your current night time oxygen prescription. If your oxygen levels remain stable through the night you will awaken less often.
2. Some people find that using oxygen at night to be awkward or noisy but there is newer technology that is a lot quieter and more user friendly-it may be that you can talk to your oxygen machine supplier and get yourself an upgrade.
3. Also talk to your GP if you think that you may suffer from Sleep Apnea. Ask about CPAP or another non-invasive, positive-pressure ventilation. This can help improve oxygen saturation levels during the day and night.
4. Try to clear your airways during the day so they are clear at bedtime. To do so, try coughing or huffing (take a breath in and forcefully exhale, like “huffing” onto a mirror/window to steam it up). Huffing is not as forceful as a cough but it can work better and be less tiring.
5. Don’t forget to review your medications with your GP, as some may cause side effects that can keep you up at night.
6. Practice pursed-lip breathing while lying in bed to help you relax and drift to sleep.
Some other more generic tips:
1. Keep your bedroom cool, dark and cozy. Without distractions, you can fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
2. Do not use your bed for working, chatting on the phone or watching television. Use it only for sleeping.
3. Avoid caffeine after lunchtime.
4. Wear loose, comfortable clothing to bed.
5. Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, even weekends. When your body has a sleep cycle to rely on, rest comes more naturally.