According to a study, adults with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) have a greater risk of future flare-ups due to poorer sleep quality. Indeed, what’s even more surprising is that their sleep quality tells a lot more about their risk of exacerbations than the number of years they smoked cigarettes.
The study included nearly 1,650 current and former smokers suffering from COPD who’ve done a spirometry test. Then, the researchers conducting the study calculated the incidence of COPD flare-ups adjusted for disease severity, medical comorbidities, and demographic metrics, as well as for socio-environmental exposures using the Area Deprivation Index.
Researchers recorded the participants’ exacerbations for three years and compared the results against PSQI (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) scores. The measurements showed that those who were at the base level, or the threshold, of poor sleep, had a 25% greater risk for COPD exacerbations during the following year. As you may guess, the risk increased as sleep became of poorer quality. In other words, this means that those who slept worse were at a whopping 95% increased risk of having COPD exacerbations within the next year.
The study also showed a significant link between the PSQI scores and total and mean COPD flare-ups in unadjusted analyses. Yet, the connection was still similar after researchers made the adjustments for disease severity, medical comorbidities, medication usage, demographics, and socio-environmental exposures. Moreover, the findings showed that there was a 5% increased risk for exacerbations and a 7% increased risk of hospitalization for every point score increase.
In short, sleep quality can reveal a lot and predict future exacerbations in people with COPD. Still, what’s left unknown is whether or not improving sleep will directly improve COPD outcomes. That’s why future studies are still needed. But, regardless of the results of a potential future study, we can guess and hope that making sleep improvements will help relieve COPD symptoms and flare-ups.
So, let’s have a look at some simple tips for improving sleep quality for people with COPD.
Sleep Tips for People with COPD
- Quitting smoking is the first and most important tip to follow as it is the number one cause of COPD.
- Keep the air in your home free of dust, pollutants, and secondhand smoke by investing in an air purifier with a HEPA filter.
- Incorporate regular physical activity of about 30 minutes into your daily routine, or at least three times a week, to build up your oxygen supply.
- Stop taking daily naps as they would only interfere with your sleep at night. Still, if you truly have to take one, limit it to no more than 20 minutes.
- Keep a sleep diary that includes your bedtime and wake-up time, medications, daily activities, as well as what you ate during the day.
- Follow a strict sleep schedule meaning that you should go to bed and wake up at the same time every day without exceptions, even during the weekend.
- Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated drinks or consuming caffeinated products after dinner as they impede sleep.
- Keep your dinner light and avoid large meals full of starchy or sugary carbohydrates. Instead, follow a well-balanced diet with lots of fruit, vegetables, and lean protein.
- Make your bedroom sleep-friendly by adjusting the temperature between 60-71 F, keeping it dark, and using good-quality bedding.