For people with asthma, getting a good night's sleep can be challenging. The discomfort caused by asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath can disrupt your sleep and leave you feeling tired and groggy the next day. However, by making a few changes to your sleeping position and your sleep environment, you can improve your chances of getting a restful night's sleep.

One of the most important changes you can make is adjusting your sleeping position. The best sleeping position for people with asthma is on their side. Sleeping on your side can help keep your airways open and reduce the likelihood of asthma symptoms disrupting your sleep. It's important to avoid sleeping on your stomach or back, as this can cause your airways to narrow and exacerbate your symptoms.

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If you find it difficult to stay in one position throughout the night, try using a body pillow to help support your neck, back, and legs. This can help keep you in a comfortable side-sleeping position and reduce the likelihood of tossing and turning.

In addition to choosing the right sleeping position, creating a sleep-friendly environment can also improve your chances of getting a good night's sleep. Here are some tips:

Keep your bedroom clean and dust-free

Dust and other allergens can trigger asthma symptoms and make it difficult to sleep. Keep your bedroom clean and dust-free by regularly vacuuming, dusting, and washing your bedding. Consider using allergen-proof covers on your pillows and mattress to help reduce exposure to dust mites.

Use an air purifier

Air Purifier
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An air purifier can help remove allergens and other irritants from the air in your bedroom. Look for a purifier with a HEPA filter, which can capture even the smallest airborne particles.

Invest in a quality mattress and bedding.

A comfortable mattress and bedding can make a significant difference in the quality of your sleep. When shopping for a mattress, look for one that provides good support and is made from materials that won't trigger your asthma symptoms. For example, anti-bacterial, anti-allergy, anti-dust mite fabrics, fabrics with Okeo Tex certification & GOTS certification would be the ideal product to sleep on. Mattresses with zippers would be the best option, as you could have it dry cleaned regularly, maintaining hygiene, and keeping the mattress clean against dust and allergies. 

Similarly, when choosing bedding, opt for hypoallergenic materials such as cotton, bamboo, or silk. Avoid materials like down or wool, which can harbor allergens. Wash your bedding regularly in hot water to eliminate any allergens that may have accumulated.

Keep your bedroom cool

The optimal temperature range for sleeping is between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius. If your bedroom is too warm, it can lead to sweating and discomfort, which can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Use fans or air conditioning to help regulate the temperature and keep your bedroom cool.

Avoid allergens before bedtime

Avoiding allergens before bedtime is essential for a good night's sleep. Keep pets out of the bedroom, avoid smoking or vaping, and avoid outdoor activities when pollen counts are high. If you have allergies, take allergy medication as directed by your doctor to help control symptoms.

Avoid eating heavy meals before bedtime

Eating a heavy meal before bedtime can make it harder to breathe and exacerbate asthma symptoms. Try to avoid eating heavy, fatty, or spicy foods before bedtime, as these can also cause heartburn and disrupt your sleep.

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Practice relaxation techniques before bedtime

Stress and anxiety can also trigger asthma symptoms and disrupt your sleep. Practicing relaxation techniques before bedtime, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation, can help calm your mind and body and promote better sleep.

Consider using a nasal spray

Nasal congestion can make it harder to breathe at night, especially if you have allergies or a cold. Using a nasal spray before bedtime can help reduce congestion and improve your breathing.

Elevate your head

If you find it difficult to breathe while lying flat, try elevating your head by using an extra pillow or a wedge pillow. This can help reduce congestion and improve your breathing. An Ergo bed would help you to adjust your sleeping positions at any given time. 

Exercise during the day

Engaging in frequent physical activity can enhance your respiratory capacity and alleviate the symptoms of asthma. However, exercising too close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep. Try to exercise earlier in the day and avoid vigorous exercise for at least three hours before bedtime.

Don’t smoke

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Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger asthma symptoms and make it harder to breathe. If you smoke, talk to your healthcare provider about quitting strategies. Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke, and don't allow smoking in your home.

Final thoughts

Getting a good night's sleep is essential for managing asthma symptoms and maintaining overall health and well-being. By making a few simple changes to your sleep environment and sleeping position, you can improve your chances of getting a restful night's sleep.

Remember to sleep on your side, keep your bedroom clean and dust-free, use an air purifier, control humidity levels, invest in quality mattresses and bedding, keep your bedroom cool, and avoid allergens before bedtime.

If you're still having trouble sleeping,it is advisable to consult with your doctor. They may be able to provide additional tips and guidance for managing your asthma symptoms and improving the quality of your sleep.

About the author: Dr Namitha Naik B, MBBS, DLO (ENT) is a Medical Officer associated with Magniflex India. All views/opinions expressed in the article are of the author.

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