Many things can help your brain and body get to sleep at night, but living with asthma is sadly not one of those things. For those who don’t have asthma, it may not occur to you just how the condition which affects the respiratory system, can prevent sound sleep at night.
Signs of an impending asthma attack include coughing, wheezing and feelings of breathlessness. All of these symptoms are detrimental when it comes to creating an unwelcoming environment for both mind and body when it comes to unwinding and settling in for bed.
In addition, there are asthmatics who have a condition known as night-time (nocturnal) asthma too. It can cause those who suffer from it to endure asthmatic symptoms that become more intense in the night.
Does your breathing change at night?
During the night, notably, as bedtime nears, alterations take place that relates to your own internal body clock, known as your natural circadian rhythm.
For healthy individuals, nightly alterations are nothing to be overly concerned with. however, for asthmatics who encounter asthma attacks, it can cause more problems such as airways becoming somewhat inflamed and closing up, as well as a restriction in terms of airflow.
What can I do to improve sleep and avert asthma attacks at night?
After factoring in taking asthma medications as prescribed, we have nine top tips that are on hand to help you reduce the likelihood of being confronted with a night-time asthma attack.
- Keep a clean bedroom
It’s important to regularly clean your bedroom and to keep it tidy. When you hoover up your bedroom make sure that it is fitted with a high-efficiency particulate air filter in order to trap any lingering mites and their subsequent waste and have them both removed from your bedroom.
- Regularly wash your bedding
You should be washing your bedding on a weekly basis and making sure that the water temperature is at least 50-60 degrees Celsius which will kill the dust mites. If you have one, put your bedding in a tumble dryer to make the job more thorough.
- Fit a dust-proof mattress
You might want to look at investing in a dust-proof mattress; these zippered covers are woven tightly as an effective defence against keeping dust mites out of your bedding. You can also place a mattress topper on there too for added comfort, although it’s important that you keep this constantly fresh and clean.
- Use a humidifier
When the air is cold it becomes drier; something that is more problematic for those who suffer from higher severities of asthma. So, depending on your locations, it can be worth investing in a humidifier so that you can add some potentially asthma-averting moisture to the bedroom air, particularly in winter.
Furthermore, those pesky dust mites absolutely love low humidity, so, if you can up the humidity by adding a humidifier into the equation, you can increase the chances of reducing dust mites in your bedroom.
- Keep your pets away from the bedroom
If you own a pet, it’s essential to keep them away from your bedroom space so that their dander doesn’t stick in the carpeting or collect in your bedding.
Don’t forget to keep the door shut when you’re not home, because pets can be cheeky and go for the comfort of your bed when they fancy a lie-down!
- Seek professional advice on sleep apnoea
Anyone who suffers from asthma stands a bigger chance of having sleep apnoea, the American Thoracic Society states. Sleep apnoea instigates recurrent breaks in your breathing as you are sleeping. what’s more, it can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Seek medical advice from your doctor about testing and any consequent treatment, if required.
- Vacuum frequently
Dust mites love to get into your carpets at home, so, when we mentioned vacuuming your bedroom regularly earlier in the article, we advise hoovering up the rest of the house no less than twice a week to assist in ridding your home of dust mites.
You might want to consider wearing a dust mask so that you can avoid inhaling dust that gets sent into the air as you vacuum.
- Consider changing curtains
Do you have heavy curtains fitted in your home, and more specifically, in your bedroom? If this is the case, then it’s a sound choice to change them for more asthma-friendly options.
Essentially, heavy curtains are a favourable breeding ground for dust and common bits and pieces, including dead skin, and other airborne cells.
Instead, choose either a lighter-style curtain or install some blackout blinds wherever possible.
- Try various sleeping positions
Prone position: The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health explains that by lying on your front, which is referred to as prone position, it can reduce the gravitational effects on your upper airway and lessen any impending collapsibility.
This is known to help people who have asthma because the airways will be able to stay open for longer due to the fact that they’re not at risk of the gravity effect, therefore, by assuming prone position, you’re far more likely to experience a better night’s sleep.
Supine position: It’s not just prone position you can try; there’s supine too. this allows you to breathe unrestricted while lying on your back as you sleep.
Some believe that the prone position can provide greater benefits, but many people find lying on their front to be unnatural or simply just uncomfortable mainly due to having your face in your pillow can make it tricky to breathe in a relaxed and consistent way that ensures you get enough oxygen.
Avoid reclining position: While we’ve touched on good positions for sleeping and avoiding asthma attacks, we should also touch on one to avoid which is reclining position; this can make it harder for asthmatics to achieve sound slumber.
Lying in a reclined position can bring about the build-up of secretions in the airways as a result of drainage from your postnasal drip. Moreover, there’s the fact that this particular position raises blood volume in the lungs and creates a larger resistance on the airways.
As far as sleeping positions are concerned, it comes down to trial and error most of the time. You can follow advice that has come from studies and research, but you should do what works best for you.
Don’t be disheartened if you try one thing and it doesn’t work well instantly or you feel slightly uncomfortable; you may just need to get used to something new.
It’s only by taking these steps to create a positive sleeping environment that is free of asthma triggers that you will find it easier to prevent night-time asthma attacks and enjoy improved levels of high-quality sleep.