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Asthma and chronic insomnia

I was wondering if anyone could offer me some advice.

I have been asthmatic since I was two or three years old but until this week, I haven't had a flare up since before I was a teenager (I'm 27 tomorrow) so I haven't taken any medications until now.

On Monday, my neighbour was cutting my grass for me and I normally get hayfever in the summer which isn't usually a problem as I'll take an antihistamine and I'll be fine the next day. I started wheezing and coughing as well as getting a blocked nose. I managed to get a little bit of sleep on Monday and Tuesday but I woke up on Wednesday morning at 5am and have now been awake for four days with no end in sight. I was taking a cough bottle and antihistamines until Thursday when it got really bad that I ended up at the doctor's who gave me Ventolin and Qvar inhalers, a week's worth of prednisolone and a week's worth of antibiotics as my doctor thought there might be an underlying chest infection.

Every time I lay my head down, I can hear and feel the wheezing in my throat and then of course I have to cough. I went to see the out of hours doctor today who upped my prednisolone and apparently I'm not breathing correctly when I take my inhalers so told me to concentrate on breathing deeply so it goes all the way into my lungs. I do smoke but when all this started I stopped immediately. The doctor at the hospital also told me that sleeping tablets weren't the answer and reiterated concentrating on my breathing. So right now I'm sat here, totally wired because I can't sleep and at my wit's end about what to do now. I've taken some Nytol but that's not worked either.

Any advice and help is appreciated.



5 Replies

It's normal you can't sleep if you're breathing is not good. In term of priority, breathing come before sleeping.

Does your doctor recommend to use a spacer with your inhaler? Like this myhealth.alberta.ca/health/...

Prednisolone can also cause insomnia. It stimulate your body and mind the exact same way a high amount of stress will do.

If you still can't sleep, with the treatment you're doctor gave to you, maybe it's not enough. You're insomnia seems to be related to your breathing. When you're breathing will come back to normal, you're sleep will probably do the same.


Make sure you take the pred very early in the morning, because the steroids will not be helping with the insomnia. The qvar won't have had time to kick in yet, so you won't be feeling the benefit, but it is Improtamt to breathe deeply and slowly when you take inhalers. Do you have a spacer? That might help you make sure you are taking it properly!

They are always reluctant to give sleeping tablets to asthmatics, and they aren't ideal anyway. You're better off trying to sleep without. If u are struggling,at night, you might be better if you take your reliever before bed, and some people are better sleeping sat slightly upright!

When you stop the pred it is likely that the insomnia will go away on its own, but taking them really early (I wake up at 6am especially to take the, with a cereal bar and then go back to sleep)

What type of antihistamines do you take? Some, like chlorphenamine, make you drowsy, so you could discuss taking them at night instead of/as well as in the morning!

Even if you can't sleep, lie in bed with a film you know well on in the background and close your eyes, you may drift off, but even if you don't you'll be resting your body and brain as much as possible!



As soph said, sleeping aids aren't ideal for asthmatics, I asked a pharmacists about em once, basically they work by slowing your breathing down which obviously isn't good for asthma so I would stay away from them. Also sleep as up right as possible to stop mucus etc. settling. I used to be on chlorphenamine and I can vouch for the drowsiness, however I stopped them as I feel tired enough in the day anyway (I took chlorphenamne before bed).


You have my sympathy, I too have chronic insomnia (have had for 17yrs) and am not allowed sleeping tablets due to my asthma. I take 2 different drowsy-type antihisthamines which make very little difference sadly. Mostly I try to rest even if I cant sleep, and sometimes a carby snack helps (toast, digestive biscuits etc). I do wish you luck getting some sleep, my own sleep pattern is non existant now after a series of admissions.



I can certainly relate to your situation. It's often hard to deal with the attacks and cough. I managed to improve my sleep with the help of mint tea, exercising and visiting the seaside. I'm listening hypnotic sessions here sleephypnopill.com/ as well, to calm myself. And sometimes It even seems to me that my psychological condition causes much more problems than my actual health problems. Because hypnosis probably did all the job of fixing my sleep.


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