Steroids and Sleep

What is it about (oral) steroids that results in them keeping you awake? I'm on a very high dose at the moment as asthma is not behaving. Concerned it's going to be a trip to docs tomorrow :(

But, it's 3:45am and body isn't going to sleep, when sleep and rest is surely something that would help us get better?

Does anyone have any tips to aid sleep when on Pred? Anything appreciated, I've done all the usual, but to no avail. I feel tired but my bodies staying awake; bit of an in-between states zombie at the moment.

15 Replies

  • ratty

    Sorry i cant help just wanted you to know your not alone in the zombie state!! I've had a hideous chest infections for almost 2 weeks now and resulted to high dose red smarties again last week to prevent major splatage before a big family wedding! I've been unable to sleep properly at nights untill it all catches up with me then i crash for hours and hours and would quite happily sleep the clock round if it wasn't for the whole needing a neb thing! Grr! :(

    Not been too bad this evening had a nice hot milky drink followed by a nice relaxing shower with the good old lavender scented shower gel which made me a little sleepy-also made sure that my bedroom wasn't too hot/too cold and settled rather well.... Slept for 3 hours before waking up at about 2am for a neb (as the infection is still making the old asthma rather narky at night time) - haven't been able to get back to sleep yet :( not sure whether its the nebs making me a little zittery or the old red smarties tho this evening! Its very very frustrating tho as i know i am getting woken up at 8.30am and now im getting stressed out that i NEED my sleep or im going to be exhausted all day tomorrow and i really do have loads to do tomorrow!! :(

    My only advice ratty would be to try a hot milky drink if your not allergic followed by a relaxing bath or shower and trying not to do anything too stimulating before bed- ie dont watch tv in bed or use the computer in bed etc as this can stimulate you too much making it very very difficult to drop off. Also if you haven't managed to drop off after a while and you are starting to get stressed out/upset by it dont lie there getting worked up about it. Get up go into a different room or make yourself a drink sit till you feel tired and try going to bed again. The more you lie there feeling frustrated the harder it will be to actually get to sleep.

    Have you been watching tv or using the computer/doing uni work whilst sat on the bed recently?? If so this could have been over stimulating you and can psychologically make your body feel that your bed is a place for work etc not sleep. A few years ago whilst i was at uni i had terrible insomnia and my gp worked out that as i had a tiny room and was using my bed as a desk essentially my brain thought that was a place for studying and not relaxing/sleeping! I was told to relocate where i studyed and see if that helped my sleeping pattern and after a few weeks i did see an improvement. If you are finding your not getting sleep at all or really struggling you could always see if your gp could prescribe you a couple of days of sleeping tablets which may help to jolt your body back into a normal pattern again-of course this also depends on if you can take anything and are not allergic etc and also if your asthma would not suffer if you did take anything-there are also herbal remadies out there (never tried them myself but they're supposed to be fairly good).

    Hope you get some rest soon ratty. Take care. Lotsa lv kat Xx

  • Having the same problem, i cannot sleep and when i do sleep my brain is so active i have nightmares the total joys! Meantioned it to my consultant this am and he said it will be steriods and theophyillne having a field day together.

    Joyous! I was wide awake at midnight and then wide awake at 2am then 4am and then 6am. Now i am completlly shatter and aggravated by other things. So i fully understand you but cannot help.

  • Having the same problem, i cannot sleep and when i do sleep my brain is so active i have nightmares the total joys! Meantioned it to my consultant this am and he said it will be steriods and theophyillne having a field day together.

    Joyous! I was wide awake at midnight and then wide awake at 2am then 4am and then 6am. Now i am completlly shatter and aggravated by other things. So i fully understand you but cannot help.

  • I know what you mean, I found when I was on them continusouly for 2 years by body re-adjusted and went into a normal sleep pattern eventually but now that I only have them occasionaly I am the same although my GP prescribed me a low dose sleeping tablet to take if I needed it, I tend to not take it everyday unless I have to and then I cut them in half, or otherwise take it every 2-3 days so at least I get some sleep and can boost the system.

    Might be worth mentioning it as it does help me and takes away the dread of going back on them!

    Snowy x

  • Im in the same boat too. Pred is doing ym ehad in but it is keeping my chest stable. i get so tired and grumpy during the day but then cant sleep at night because of the side effects and insomnia the pred gives me.

    I spend my time reading books in the hope they will send me to sleep but they dont always.

    Sorry got no tips on getting to sleep.


  • Terribly sorry to hear you are having so many problems trying to sleep. There is absolutely nothing worse in my book.

    If we could avoid chest infections we might be able to reduce the amount of steroids required. I take half a teaspoon of calcium ascorbate powder (vitamin C) every night in water with a squeeze of lemon juice. I have had no chest infections for four years after suffering them constantly in 2005. (Of course I also take vitamins A and E for my asthma so maybe that helps also).

    Best of luck,


  • not entirely sure it's medication based this lack of sleep. I just wish we could change to 48 hour days, purely so I can try to sleep for 40 hours. Strange feel tire when go to sleep, do have good sleep, and wake up feeling even worse than the night before.. Wonder if its the weather, as I've had a few people email me the same problem.

    Marian, Nice to see you around again, and glad you're keeping well. There is certainly something in the vitamin debate, and we did create one earlier in the year. Touch wood I'm staying cold free following the increase in vitmains, everyone around me has really bad colds, and had them for several weeks, I should be suffering , but I've escaped with nothing more than a slight sore throat., Chris

  • That's good news Chris. Glad to hear it.


  • IM so tired all the time,not sure if its an increase in steroid and inhaylers.

    just getting over a bad attack and I could sleep for days.

    hoping things will settle down because im quite a bubbly person and feel so rundown and tired.

    got an asthma review tuesday so will tell him how tired I amxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  • CRUK - impact of high dose supplements not yet clear

    on the subject of taking high dose vitamin supplements (in the context of cancer prevention), a press release from CRUK today advising caution -

    ""High-dose vitamin and mineral supplements may do more harm than good, an expert at the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has warned.

    Professor Martin Wiseman, the WCRF's medical and scientific adviser, explained that while low-dose supplements are recommended for some people, the effect of higher doses on cancer risk is difficult to predict.

    For this reason, the WCRF advises people to get the vitamins and minerals they need by eating a healthy, balanced diet rather than taking high-dose supplements if they want to reduce their risk of cancer.


  • Firstly, thanks everyone (here and by PM) who has made me feel not so alone in feeling zombified/insomniac/predified etc. Just knowing that I'm not the only one going through this does help and it's good to know that we're amongst people who 'get' it.

    Having splatted big time (see, I'm learning, I said I felt a trip to the docs coming on... - oops!) I'm now on high dose steroids for a while to hopefully keep me going and going to see what cons says next week - it's really difficult not being able to sleep and also being utterly exhausted following a splat - my body seems to be doing the keep going and then crash thing - I did fall asleep this afternoon (till my grumpy lungs woke me up) but of course that may make me less likely to sleep tonight.

    Thanks too for the tips - most I've tried and they work partially so I stick at them, I shall remember to use this as an excuse to treat myself to yummy lavender and nice smelling bath/shower things! The studying/sleeping thing is definitely an issue - as I student I have a small study bedroom and so the two don't get separated - unfortunately there isn't really anywhere else to work (the halls are off campus) so it's a tricky one to sort. I have had sleeping tablets from the GP in the past, I don't like taking them but they do work. I'll see how things are and ask when I see her next.

    Now a slight rant/moan - I was really upset reading the suggestion about not getting chest infections (probably didn't help as I read it in hospital so was feeling low anyway). This admission wasn't caused by a chest infection (hosp confirmed this), in fact I haven't had a chest infection for ages but still struggle with asthma. Because I'm currently struggling I'm on the high dose pred and was asking a specific question about this. I really wish that managing my asthma and getting sleep was as easy as popping a vitamin tablet. It's not and when my asthma's bad it's really debilitating and it's currently stopping me doing the things I love and want to do. No amount of vitamin taking is going to mend that. I'm very pleased if it's apparently worked for some (although personally I've never seen it scientifically proven - and NO, I don't want to start a debate on it) but don't make me feel like I'm not doing the best to look after my health - I'm doing everything I can and wish there was more I could do.

  • Sorry Ratty. Didn't mean to offend you.


  • Ratty- Just read this thread, I'm feeling exactly the same, I'm exhausted after comming out of hosp from my latest splat, so i'm on the 60mg of pred, but I swear this is the first time its caused me problems sleeping. Its not so much the going to sleep, its the staying asleep, the secound I wake up for a neb I can't get back to sleep again! I'm shattered... and I've got 9-5 today ofly behind lectures and seminars that I'm incredibibly behind on as missing a weeks worth while in hospital!

    Anyways thought I'd tell you I'm in a simular boat

    ally x

  • Thanks Ally, hope you begin to feel a little better soon and catch up with uni, it's a horrible cycle of not sleeping, feeling unwell, getting behind and hard to get out of. It's so frustrating when you're doing ok and then splat despite doing everything to keep yourself well.

    The staying asleep is definitely a problem - could have killed the NHS last night as I got an automated text from them which woke me up when I'd finally been asleep for a while, and I couldn't get back to sleep at all.

  • What's sleep......????????

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