Stop symptoms from keeping you awake with a few simple changes
As many as 75% of people with asthma experience nocturnal asthma symptoms at least once a week, according to research.1 If you often feel tired, you could be one of them. It’s common for asthma symptoms to occur at night,2 making it harder to get to sleep, but also affecting quality of sleep when you do manage to drift off.3 Unfortunately, lack of sleep can even increase inflammation in the body4 – since we know there’s a link between asthma and inflammation,5 it makes sense to break the cycle.
Here are just a few ways to do just that. Talk to your doctor about whether they might help you breathe easy at bedtime…
Change your sleeping position
If you’re struggling to sleep at night, a change of position could help.2 Whether it’s lying on your front or propping yourself up with extra pillows, experiment to find what’s most comfortable for you.2
Take your meds
Using your asthma medication exactly as prescribed will help to minimise night-time symptoms.6 If you take it first thing in the morning, for example, keep it by your bed to remind you – and if you’ve been prescribed a reliever inhaler, always keep it handy, in case you need it in the night.
Get out the vacuum
Bedrooms can be a hive of triggers, from dust mites in your mattress,7 to pet hair and mould. All of which can aggravate your airways and trigger symptoms.7 Ensure your bedding is hypoallergenic, and aoid letting pets in the bedroom. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of vacuuming regularly to avoid the build-up of dust and dander.7
Create the right conditions
Temperature changes can trigger asthma symptoms in some people, so if the weather is very hot or cold, your sleep may be affected.8 Aim to keep your room comfortably cool,8 and on chilly nights add an extra layer of bedding if necessary.8
Pollen levels are often at their highest in the evenings, so if that’s a trigger for you,9 keep the windows closed and find another way to keep cool.
work up a sweat
It might not be your first choice for trying to improve your sleep quality, but exercising has been shown to reduce the impact of asthma symptoms on how well you sleep.10
Research suggests that 12 weeks of supervised exercise can lessen the frequency of night-time symptoms, although exactly why this is the case remains unclear.10
There are many ways that exercising can help you with your asthma. Check out this article for more reasons why you should be working up a sweat.
STOCK UP ON SOME ASTHMA-FRIENDLY FOODS
In general, foods rich in specific vitamins and minerals have been shown to reduce asthma symptoms and their underlying causes,11–14 which in turn could help you get better sleep.
Knowing exactly which foods could help your asthma can be tricky. We’ve gathered a few options that research suggests could be beneficial, which you can then discuss with your doctor about incorporating into your diet.
Speak to your doctor
If you’re experiencing symptoms at night such as coughing or tightness in your chest, it may be a sign that your asthma isn’t well controlled.6 Daily treatment can make a difference by protecting the airways from inflammation6 and minimising the chance of symptoms,6 so make an appointment to see your doctor.
With a few adjustments to your night-time routine2 and the right asthma treatment,6 you could be enjoying a peaceful night before too long.6 Sweet dreams!
Is your asthma well controlled?
If you’re concerned about your asthma, speak to your doctor about daily treatment. The asthma control test (ACT) is a quick way to see how asthma symptoms are affecting your everyday life. Click on the link below to get the results in seconds – and be sure to share them with your doctor.
- Sutherland ER. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 2005;5:161–167.
- Kalolella AB. Pan Afr Med J 2016;24:59.
- Luyster FS, et al. Sleep Breath 2012;16:1129–1137.
- Irwin MR, et al. Arch Intern Med 2006;166:1756–1762.
- Luyster FS, et al. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2020;125:319–324.
- GINA. Global strategy for asthma management and prevention, 2021. Available at: www.ginasthma.org. Accessed March 2022.
- Gautier C, Charpin D. J Asthma Allergy 2017;10:47–56.
- Harding EC, et al. Front Neurosci 2019;13:336.
- Grewling Ł, et al. Aerobiologia (Bologna) 2016;32:725–728.
- Francisco CO, et al. PLoS One 2018;13(10):e0204953.
- Hyson DA. Adv Nutr 2011;2(5):408–420.
- Bai YJ, Dai RJ. Medicine (Baltimore) 2018;97(7):e9830.
- Okoko BJ, et al. Eur Respir J 2007;29(6):1161–1168.
- Ali NS, Nanji K. Cureus 2017;9(5):e1288.