Difficulty breathing can be an everyday experience for asthma suffers and unfortunately, that doesn’t stop when it comes to sleep. A recent sleep survey found that 45% of people said they have difficulty sleeping due to their asthma, at least once a week. A further 47% said they’d suffered an asthma attack at night, either when they were asleep or while trying to get to sleep. This is referred to as nocturnal asthma, which is the worsening of symptoms at night.
People with asthma are 70% more likely to suffer from sleep apnea or other related sleeping issues, as they are more likely to experience sleep disruptions due to frequent night-time coughing, wheezing and breathlessness.
According to National Asthma Council Australia over 2 million Australians have asthma, which is about 1 in 10 people. Of these, about 80% have allergies like hay-fever. What a lot of people dont know is asthma triggers have a lot to do with the sleep environment, with the most common triggers being house dust mites, air and the sleeping position.
Room temperature/air – the temperature of the room, particularly the air you breathe, can worsen your asthma when too hot or too cold. The air should be cool, rather than cold, as cold air can be a trigger. But be careful when using air conditioning as it tends to dry out the air, which again is a trigger. A possible solution to this can be using a humidifier, as it prevents the air from becoming too dry and keeps moisture levels consistent, which helps sooth airways and allow for easier breathing.
Allergens – according to National Asthma Council Australia, dust mites are the most common trigger of allergies and asthma in Australia due to the humid climate. One way to battle dust mites is to invest in bedding that uses materials which are anti-microbial and can be regularly washed at 55-60° Celsius. This will keep dust mites at bay and allow you to keep your bedding hygienic.
SilverMed® was developed by Wenatex to provide a sleep environment that takes advantage of the many properties of silver, which has been shown to be extremely effective in reducing allergens. The use of silver for its antibacterial and antimicrobic properties creates a sleep environment that provides excellent hygiene, and the mattress cover, pillows and quilt are all washable at up to 60° Celsius.
Sleeping position – when sleeping, everyone’s airways tighten due to histamine production and decreased lung functioning. This doesn’t necessarily become an issue for everyone, but people with asthma may then have trouble breathing, resulting in their asthma symptoms worsening. When sleeping on our backs, the added pressure on the chest and lungs can also make it harder to breathe. The longer you are in that position, the more post nasal drip and mucus tend to accumulate in your airways. A solution to this can be propping your head up slightly or sleeping on your side, as changing your sleep position can allow mucus to flow without causing coughing. The Wenaflex Electric Base allows you to slightly raise your head, which aids in opening upper airway passages and may help you to breathe better during sleep.
Apart from taking prescribed asthma medications, here are some tips to decrease your asthma symptoms during the night:
- Having a clean bedroom
- Wash your bedding frequently
- Invest in mattress and pillows that are resistant to dust mites
- Don’t sleep with pets
- Invest in a humidifier
- Showering before going to bed to remove outdoor allergens, such as pollen.
- Sleep with your head slightly elevated
By taking small steps to create a sleep environment free of asthma triggers, your asthma symptoms can become easier to manage.
National Asthma Council, 2019, Asthma & Allergy, https://www.nationalasthma.org.au/living-with-asthma/resources/patients-carers/brochures/asthma-allergy#hcy