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Sleeping asthma

Dealing with asthma attacks during sleep

Sleeping is probably the most important time for the people suffering from asthma because it is the time which has the greatest risk of asthma attack. Most asthma attacks, which are periods of breathing difficulties, happen between 3 and 5 o’clock in the morning. On the opposite side somewhere in the region of 4pm is the most calm or relaxing time for people suffering from asthma as the minimal amount of attacks happen during this time.

During sleep we lie down for a number of hours and the breathing volume relative to the needs of the body can be really quite excessive for asthma patients. Often times they also snore and can as well have sleep apnea, which is a complete cessation of breathing.

Signs of sleeping asthma

  • Attacks between 3-5am
  • The need to go to the bathroom around 6am
  • Waking up extremely tired and unable to get out of bed

Sleeping asthma: how to deal with it

To start addressing the issue we can look at the first factor: the bedroom temperature. The bedroom should be cool and no heating should be on in the bedroom. If the room is too hot then the person is likely to breathe heavy.

The next item is not to eat for several hours before going to bed. If you have any food two to three hours before going to bed then this will increase your breathing volume.

Next, if you have symptoms of asthma then do not lie down and try to sleep. Even if you succeed and fall asleep you are almost guaranteed to be woken up by a sleeping asthma attack. So what you can do is try to relax the symptoms, take medicine. If you do go to sleep then set an alarm clock to wake you up prior to having a sleeping asthma attack. If you know from history or statistics that the attack is likely to occur around 3-5 am then set your alarm somewhere around 2 am. When you wake up re-evaluate the situation and take medicine if needed.

The following factor is the position in which you lay down. If you lay down on your back then this is not very good because there is a high possibility of movement in any direction. From the research the best position is to lie down on your left hand side. When you sleep on your left hands side then you tend to use your left lung more, which is smaller due to the position of the heart and as a result you will breathe less.

Another good position is to lie down on your tummy (assuming you have a relatively hard mattress), because this limits the amount of breathing.

Sleeping asthma: the open mouth

A great issue with practically all people suffering from asthma is that they all have their mouth open and this is not very good and steps should be taken to keep the mouth closed. One very basic method is to use a special non-allergic tape to shut the mouth. If you are also keeping your mouth open during the day then you can again apply the tape and go around your business as your body and you learn to keep the mouth closed. The more you practice the quicker it will become a natural habit. How do you know when to stop using the tape? You can stop it the day you can sleep the night with your mouth closed without having the tape on.

Depending on your unique case this habit generation can take a few weeks or months and even, in some very difficult cases, it could take a few years.

A note of caution: the tape should not be used if you are feeling unwell, if you have any gastro intestinal problems, if you have drunk a large amount of alcohol or if your age is very young.