Make Rest a Priority.
Although sleep is one of the most important things in a person’s life, it is often taken for granted. Further, the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation is often ignored or not known.
Sleep is important for growth and repair, mental processing, memory storage, mental health, among others. Research shows us that a lack of sleep increases rates of infections, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Sleep and asthma are an especially close relationship.
When your asthma is uncontrolled, it will disturb your sleep patterns. This is true even if you are not waking up at night coughing, wheezing and short of breath. Uncontrolled asthma leads to restlessness, early morning awakenings, difficulty maintaining sleep, and daytime sleepiness. Getting control of your asthma should be a first step in improving your sleep.
Alternatively, sleep deprivation may make your asthma more difficult to control. With the invention of artificial light, we have pushed back our bedtimes (and our circadian clocks) considerably. We have not compensated by waking up later, but rather we have shortened our sleep duration. In addition, there is new evidence that blue light emitted from electronics strongly impacts our circadian clocks—making it more difficult to fall asleep at night. In agreement, our data using mobile health tracking devices showed that most people actually get less than 7 hours of sleep per night. Thus, we are as a society becoming more and more sleep deprived. With asthma, it’s difficult to differentiate the chicken or the egg, i.e. whether worsening asthma continues to worsen sleep or vice versa. Nonetheless, the stress, fatigue and poor dietary habits associated with prolonged sleep deprivation is not going to do your asthma any favors.
Make sleep a priority. This means making it an important part of your life to be valued and treasured. This is a mindset. It’s also a goal. Turn off the electronics (hours before bed), as smartphones and computers are particularly bad at disrupting our circadian rhythms. It is no reasonable to think you can reply to work emails, many of which will invoke stress, worry and headache, and then reasonably expect to fall asleep 10 minutes later.
Keep your sleeping area free of asthma triggers. For allergy sufferers, this may mean closing windows, keeping pets off the bed, or placing house dust mite covers on the bed. It also often means keeping windows closed.
Keep the bedroom cooler.
Reduce ambient noise and light.