Closeup of older woman sleeping in bed

Poor sleep quality is a good predictor of whether a patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will have recurrent flare-ups, a new study finds.

Patients who experienced poor sleep had 25% to 95% greater odds of COPD exacerbations (sudden bouts of worsening breathing) when compared to their peers who had good quality sleep, Aaron Baugh and colleagues reported in a study supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers followed 1,647 people with confirmed COPD who were enrolled in a larger, long-term study of the disease. All participants were current or former tobacco smokers who underwent at least one initial sleep evaluation. COPD flare-ups were tracked over three years and compared with participants’ sleep quality.

Overall, poor sleep quality was strongly tied to more total COPD flare-ups. Participants with the worst quality sleep had a nearly 95% increased risk of experiencing a COPD exacerbation within the next year.

Although it remains unclear whether improving sleep quality will reduce COPD flare-ups, the study demonstrates that poor sleep is especially harmful to people with chronic conditions such as COPD, the authors concluded.

The results offer a “strong rationale into paying more attention to sleep than we have in the past, from both a clinical and research perspective,” Baugh said in a statement.

Full findings were published in the journal Sleep.

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