COPD and Difficulty Breathing

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in COPD patients. If you have symptoms of insomnia such as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up unrefreshed, talk to your doctor about treatment options. Keep in mind that certain store-purchased and prescription sleep aids may impair breathing in COPD patients. One exception is ramelteon, which was studied in mild and moderate COPD patients and found to not harm their breathing.

In addition to spending enough time sleeping, sleep quality is also important. Conditions such as overlap syndrome - having both COPD and OSA - can seriously undermine health. If you have COPD as well as symptoms of OSA, talk to your physician about treatment options, including the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

COPING:

In addition to quitting smoking and the other self-directed therapies mentioned under "treatment," getting adequate sleep is essential to feeling well and maintaining overall health. This can be challenging for COPD patients. Here are some tips for getting the sleep you need:

  • Maintain a regular sleep and wake schedule
  • Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex, not for other stimulating activities
  • Create a sleep environment that is cool, dark, and comfortable
  • Avoid caffeine in the hours before bedtime

In addition to healthy sleep, try these tips for coping with COPD:

  • Conserve energy by limiting activities and getting adequate sleep
  • Develop an exercise plan in consultation with your physician
  • Keep your home free of smoke and airborne irritants
  • Join a respiration rehabilitation group
  • Take naps as needed, but not close to bedtime
  • Eat healthy high-protein foods
  • Seek support from family and friends

POLL DATA:

NSF's 2003 Sleep in America poll found that untreated sleep problems may interfere with the ability to cope with chronic medical conditions. In addition, NSF's 2005 Sleep in America poll found that 26% of American adults are at high risk for OSA.