Does the very notion of “a long winter’s nap” sound out of the question? If you have asthma, you likely have experienced plenty of nights with poor sleep. Indeed, many asthma sufferers find that their symptoms get worse at night.
Medical experts say don’t despair.
“The best way to get a good night’s sleep if you have asthma is to make sure your asthma is well-controlled,” says Dr. Andy Nish of the Allergy and Asthma Care Center in Gainesville, Ga.
That includes taking doctor-prescribed or recommended medication and avoiding triggers that might worsen your asthma.
Some other strategies include:
Reconsider that crackling fire this winter. If you heat your home by burning wood in your fireplace, the particles and smoke can aggravate your asthma.
Reposition yourself. When you lie down, secretions may drain from your sinuses and accumulate in your airways. You also may experience increased airway resistance. Consider propping yourself up slightly.
Make your bedroom a pet-free zone. People with pet allergies are better off not having animals sleep in their bedrooms, Nish says. So if you depend on your dog to keep your feet warm at night, it’s time to get thicker socks.
Confer with your doctor about medications that can help. Some people benefit from inhaling a long-acting corticosteroid to ward off nighttime attacks.
Use a humidifier in your bedroom. Dry air can trigger asthma, says Dr. Michael Decker, a board-certified sleep medicine expert and associate professor at Georgia State University.
Remove dust from the nooks and crannies of your home. “Duct cleaning helps tremendously,” Decker says.
Relieve stress. Stress hormones can cause the muscles around your airways to tighten.
Avoid viruses. Wash your hands frequently.