How to get a good night’s sleep when you have asthma

Explore how a few simple changes could help ease the impact of symptoms on your sleep

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 hard 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…

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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 back or propping yourself up with extra pillows, experiment to find what’s most comfortable for you.2

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Caffeine is a stimulant that can be found in tea, coffee, and other food and drinks. That’s great for keeping you alert during the day, but it also means it’s harder to get to sleep at night.6
Try gradually cutting down on your caffeine intake and avoid it completely for at least 9 hours before bed.6

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Take your meds


Using your asthma medication exactly as prescribed will help to minimise night-time symptoms.7 If you take your controller medication first thing in the morning or just before bed each night, keep it by your bedside to remind you. If you’ve been prescribed a reliever inhaler, always keep it handy, in case you need it in the night.

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We’ve all been guilty of late-night social media scrolling, but studies show that devices with screens, such as phones or tablets, can interfere with sleep. Try not to look at screens when you are winding down before bed, or even make your bedroom a screen-free zone.8

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Get out the vacuum


Bedrooms can be a hive of triggers, from dust mites in your mattress,9 to pet hair and mould. All of which can aggravate your airways and trigger symptoms.9 Ensure your bedding is hypoallergenic and avoid letting pets in the bedroom.9 It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of vacuuming regularly to avoid the build-up of dust and dander.

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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.10 Aim to keep your room comfortably cool,10 and on chilly nights add an extra layer of bedding if necessary.10

Pollen levels are often at their highest in the evenings, so if that’s a trigger for you,11 keep the windows closed and find another way to keep cool.

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Get active


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.12

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.

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Fatigue can be different for everyone and it can impact your day-to-day living, so it’s good to have some helpful energy-saving hacks.13

This can be as simple as breaking tasks like laundry into smaller, more manageable tasks and taking breaks to rest. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from those around you – family, friends and professional helpers can support you with essential daily jobs like cleaning or shopping.14

With a few adjustments to your night-time routine2 and the right asthma treatment,7 you could be enjoying a peaceful night before too long.7 Sweet dreams!

What to do next:

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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.7 Daily treatment can make a difference by protecting the airways from inflammation7 and minimising the chance of symptoms,7 so make an appointment to see your doctor.


If you’re concerned that your asthma symptoms might be holding you back, speak to your doctor for more information.
The asthma control test (ACT) is a quick way to see how the symptoms of asthma 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.

  • referenceS

    1. Sutherland ER. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep 2005;5:161–167.
    2. Kalolella AB. Pan Afr Med J 2016;24:59.
    3. Luyster FS, et al. Sleep Breath 2012;16:1129–1137.
    4. Irwin MR, et al. Arch Intern Med 2006;166:1756–1762.
    5. Luyster FS, et al. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2020;125:319–324.
    6. Gardiner C, et al. Sleep Med Rev. 2023;(69):101764.
    7. GINA. Global strategy for asthma management and prevention, 2023. Available at: Accessed February 2024.
    8. Rafique N, et al. Nature and Science of Sleep. 2020;12:357-364.
    9. Gautier C, Charpin D. J Asthma Allergy 2017;10:47–56.Harding 2019.
    10. Harding EC, et al. Front Neurosci 2019;13:336.
    11. Grewling Ł, et al. Aerobiologia (Bologna) 2016;32:725–728.
    12. Francisco CO, et al. PLoS One 2018;13(10):e0204953.
    13. NHS Inform. Effects of fatigue. Available at: Accessed February 2024.
    14. NHS Inform. Coping with fatigue at home. Available at: Accessed February 2024.