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Don't Let Nocturnal Asthma Prevent You From Getting a Good Night's Sleep
Don't Let Nocturnal Asthma Prevent You From Getting a Good Night's Sleep

Posted on November 30, 2013 by admin There have been 0 comments

Nocturnal, or sleep-related asthma, and the coughing, wheezing, chocking and congestion that accompanies it interferes with the sleep of more than 20 million Americans.  This nightime asthma affects both children and adults, and can keep both the asthma sufferer and the rest of the family awake at night.

The effects of nocturnal asthma are felt beyond the bedroom.  Fatigue, irritability and lack of alertness are often experienced on the following day, and it is known that night time asthma sufferers miss more work and school time than non-sufferers, and experience more headaches, depression and impaired performance.


Factors Contributing to Nocturnal Asthma

Asthma is a recurring inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by airflow obstruction and sudden constrictions, or spasms in the walls of the airways.  During breathing, the lungs transport oxygen into the bloodstream, where it is supplied to the rest of the body, and they transport the waste product, carbon dioxide, out of the blood stream.

The efficiency of this process varies throughout the day as part of the body's natural circadian rhythm, an internal clock that regulates body functions over a 24-hour period.  Lungs work best during the day, with peak function at around 4:00 p.m. and minimum function at about 4:00 a.m.  Even though the fluctuation is normally less than 10%, people with asthma can experience a 50% difference between daytime and nightime lung function.  This factor alone can make the difference between a good and bad night's sleep.

Other factors impacting nocturnal asthma include the degree of airway passage inflammation experienced by an asthma patient at sleep time and the level of allergen exposure.  Allergens, such as pollen or mold can trigger a chain reaction that can produce symptoms hours later, as can bedroom allergens such as dust mites or animal dander.

The responsiveness of patients to their medications is also a factor in nighttime asthma.  For example, short-acting bronchodilators wear off while patients sleep and their effectiveness over the 4-6 hours of their activity is less at night than during the day.  This causes patients to wake up short of breath in the middle of the night because they need to take another dose.

Acid reflux, a back-wash of stomach acid into the esophagus is another contributing factor to sleep disturbance.  Although researchers aren't sure how reflux and asthma interact, it is known that as many as 75% of adults with asthma also have acid reflux.  Reflux can bring on asthma symptoms, and because reflux is more common when one is lying down, asthma patients may have more difficulty when lying in bed.


How to Get Relief


There is no single magic bullet or cure for nocturnal asthma, but there are a number of things that can be done to improve one's sleep:


Talk to your doctor - Your doctor can help you to identify factors that trigger your asthma episodes and develop a plan of action.  Medications that are properly timed can provided significant relief.

Reduce bedroom allergens - Dust and dust mites can be a major source of problems.  To minimize these problems, make your bedroom the most dust-free part of your home.  Cover mattresses and pillows with allergy free cover guards, and wash sheets, pillowcases and covers weekly in hot water.  Old-style pillow and mattress encasements were made of plastic and didn't allow for air flow, so you'd end up sweaty.  And they made a lot of noise when you turned over.  New encasements are made of tightly woven fabrics that are soft, breathable and silent. Use hypoallergenic pillows and mattresses such as those described in the Anti-Allergy Sleep Improvement Products Section below, and consider replacing carpeting with hardwood floors.  Make children's stuffed animals "allergy friendly" by putting them into the freezer overnight.

Properly ventilate your bedroom - Warm moist air is better than cold dry air to reduce nightime asthma sleeping problems.  Consider using a humidifier, and make sure to change air filters in all appliances to keep bedroom air clean.

Don't let animals sleep in the bedroom - Animal dander can be a major trigger for nighttime asthma symptoms.  Avoid pets in the bedroom, and by all means, keep them off the bed.

Avoid allergy triggers before bedtime - Know your triggers both indoor and outdoor types, and avoid them in the evening.  Aim to restrict errands, outdoor exercise and other strenuous activities to the earlier part of the day.

Avoid eating 2 - 3 hours before bed time - This will help avoid acid reflux, which has been known to trigger spasms in the throat, leading to an asthma like attack. Try to sleep with your head elevated to minimize the impact of reflux.

Use a sinus rinse before going to bed - Rinse both nostrils to clean out the sinus cavities and minimize the presence of allergens.


Anti-Allergy Products for Improved Sleep


A variety of effective and moderately priced devices  are commercially available to remove allergens from the air and from bed linen and to minimize the effects of certain sleep disorders caused by poor head positioning, poor body alignment, or blocked air passages. The following, offered  online  by Deluxe Comfort are highly recommended:

Allergy Relief Pillow Cover - This hypoallergenic pillow cover protects you from dust mites and bacteria.  It's breathable construction is cool and comfortable for sleeping to protect against sweaty nights.

Steam Inhaler with soft flexible mask - Provides quick therapy to relieve soreness related to nasal congestion due to hypersensitivity, laryngitis, colds, flu, bronchitis, rhinitis and sinusitis.

Better Sleep Pillow - By elevating your head, this pillow allows the full extension of your neck and opens air passageways, thereby removing the circumstances that cause snoring and sleep apnea. The Better Sleep Pillow is a beneficial addition to your current sleep apnea treatment..

Fiberfill Cozy Cover - Custom fitted cover for the better sleep pillow protects against dust mites and bacteria

This post was posted in Pillows & Sleep


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