Copd sleeplessness

Hello, I have just joined this site as we desperately need advice on sleeping with copd. My step dad has been suffering with it for a few years and it is now chronic. He is having a lot of trouble sleeping and ends up sitting at the kitchen table at least once or twice a night trying to steady his breathing/coughing before returning to bed. My mum really wants to try to get something to help so is thinking of buying a reclining chair. Has anybody tried this? I rang the BLF who said they couldn't advise. Any help greatly appreciated as his GP isn't overly interested unfortunately. Nat

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37 Replies

  • hi

    Does he take his inhalers before he goes to bed because they should help ease it they definitely work for me

    i have COPD and all i do is use plenty of pillows to get me comfortable it all depends on what kind of night im having

    ......i know you can buy something that helps raise you up it looks like a strange little deck chair but im on oxygen and i kept getting caught up in it

  • hi and welcome to our club that's the blf and non sleeping club . I have a wedge block on witch I have three pillows in triangle what helps me sleep sitting up. when that's not enough I sleep in armchair in living room . my rehab nurse said it don't matter where you sleep as long as you do . I get on average two hours at a time . its the noise from me chest and oxygen machine that makes it worse for me . I tend to cat nap all day to make up for the nights .

  • my poor old step dad used to stand on the landing resting on the window ledge and window open many a night in summer about 3-4 am he would stand propped up by the front gate.

    Now it is my turn and in sheer desperation I turned to the doc and asked for sleeping pills at first he hummed and ha ad about it until I told him quite firmly that the COPD was starting to interfere with my quality of life and if I was bloody minded enough I would get something from the net I just said me asking you first should show how responsible a person I am. I also sleep on my right side so any gunge in the left lung can drain overnight enough for me to clear it out in the morning by a method taught to me call houghing I learn't this at PR. Plus if it is warm enough I leave my window open which is near my bed and I also have a fan as a back up.

  • Aww Nat, I am in gold stage Emphysema.There are back rests you can buy to help him sleep sitting

  • you not suppose to take any kind of sedative if you have COPD i ended up in hospital when my doctor put me on them

  • Well I do Mandy and have copd. I think you were just very unlucky to end up in hospital like that. There is nothing wrong in a sedative when you have copd. x

  • my waste gasses went sky high i was so ill i couldnt hold a conversation i was that confused and felt like my head was going to explode

    my consultant said if you have lung problems the sedatives effect your breathing during sleep so you dont blow off the carbon dioxide..

    perhaps its just people who have difficulty with their waste gasses like i do so i wouldnt suggest anyone take them

  • Well I do Mandy and have copd. I think you were just very unlucky to end up in hospital like that. There is nothing wrong in a sedative when you have copd. x

  • Hiya Nat-tat. I have slept in a reclining chair for the last three years. It takes a little while to get used to but at least you can sleep. You can adjust the recline to where you breathe best. One bit of advice is to shop around. Many of the specialist disability stores seem to use them as a licence to boost their profits so stick to the mainstream large store groups such as Debenhams, John Lewis etc. I actually got mine from Lloyds, the chemists, so you could try them as well. Good luck.


  • Hi bobby good to see you about ! How do you manage to get yourself out of the chair? I always end up having a fight with reclining chairs, hope your keeping well x x x

  • Ha ha Medow, It can be a struggle some mornings. It beats waking up in a bed gasping for breath though. I have got quite used to my chair now so I won't try to go back to a bed. It's nice to see that you are still around too. I don't get on here as much as I used to but I pop in now and then to make sure everyone is behaving themselves. lol

    Bobby xxx

  • Thank you so much everyone for your help. We really are grateful. Take care x

  • I use a wedge in the bed and pillows to sit up more. Can get wedge via amazon. Took a little while to get use to (kept rolling off in the night) it but worth it.

  • Hi I think that sleeplessness is a problem from time to time. I have sleeping pills i can take if i need to, but as I work that is not very often. I find having a glass of milk helps and a warm bath also making sure I have plenty of water by the bed. hope this helps best wishes Irene

  • Welcome to the site,nat-tat! You have been given some good advice.A friend of mine,was having the same problem,& she has been sleeping in her recliner,the last 12 months,says it's the only way she gets a decent sleep.

    As for the sleepers,I only take them when in hospital,but the last time I was there,they refused them,for exactly the same reasons that Mandy gave.

    Anyway,hope he finds something that suits,as it must be distressing for him.How lovely that you care for your stepdad,& trying to

  • I got this From Amazon.

    I have IPF and am on oxy 20+ hours. I put this UNDER the mattress with pillows on top, this raises me, does not slip, and does not catch the oxy well for me

  • I like so many of the COPD clan have problems sleeping. I have tried all sorts of things with little success.

    I now have anti anxiety tabs from the doctor which he gave me to help me sleep,sometimes they work ,sometimes not. Its all a bit hit and miss at the moment. I think just knowing that you are not the only one out there with the same problems help a little,very often I end up watching TV in the lounge Maybe we should start a COPD insomnia group

  • I occasionally sleep in my recliner ... mostly propped up with extra pillows. If you buy recliner make sure you get electric one ... manual would be too hard to operate when breathless. Z bed may be option ... can manipulate positions easily . It's tough sometimes. X

  • Has he tried, like i do, sleeping on his side on the sofa. ~It may work

  • Good Morning! My husband suffers with severe COPD and he sometimes has difficulty sleeping. I would advise you ring the BLF helpline. They maybe able to advise especially in exactly what to ask and expect from the nurses and your GP.

    Has your stepdad been assessed for oxygen? - it maybe his SATS are dipping very low during the night.

    Does he have a nebuliser at home - it maybe that he needs to use it before he goes to bed.

    Is it the coughing that keeps him up? My husband sometimes has very bad nights coughing. If that is the case it is a matter of finding what works for him - propping up his pillows (though my husband does not find that helps and needs to lie flat on his side!).

    Sleep apnea is also very common with COPD - perhaps the doctors should look at this as a possible cause. The very best of luck TAD xxx

  • Hi nat tat welcome to this brilliant site, I think your question has been answered, Just wanted to say your in the right place for advise. compassion and wit!! Take care Xx

  • I know I have said this before but my sleeping was so improved by the CPap machine that I actually look forward to going to bed especially if I am having a breathless session. It soothes me to know that my breathing is going to be ok. I still have occasional bad nights but more from other reasons.

  • I have RLD and have not had a decent nights sleep since 2008 but I do take Zopiclone on occasions when I am having real bad nights on the trot. I am waiting for another sleep apnoea test!

  • Hi, re recliners. I believe you can get the vat back if you have to buy one for health reasons. Ask for the form at the retailers.

    Doing buy the first one you see, shop around or check retailers websites.

    If you find one you like the look of then you could have a look on eBay to see if you can get a 2nd hand one.

    Sadly there are a lot of 2nd hand ones around due to bereavement.

    There are chairs that just recline & raise the legs, work by pressing button or lever (not recommended, see above reply). There are also ones that recline, raise legs AND gently tip to help stand you up. These come with a handheld push button control and need to be near electric socket. Personally, I'd get one of those for the long term.

    Hope this helps.

  • I too have COPD (moderate) but I also have sleep apnea (mine is CENTAL not OBSTRUCTIVE). Sleep has cycles so I can awake every 15min, or every 90 min. Seem after a cycle whether other body ailment pains or just pack of air I cycle awake. Maybe one needs a BIPAP machine versus the standby CIPA. Perhaps added oxygen at night. AND definitely address other health issues. Yep sleep is there, but one needs to work on it. Exercise in the evening also can calm on down, much better than eating or TV. Relax and have sweet dreams.

  • When I have sleep problems, I take half of one benadryl . Works wonders for me.

  • Tell him to sleep I the soffer but do not use any pillows or anything as I only sleep for about 3 hours a night so I puts the TV on and lay on the soffer with my head on the arm do not wake up with any coughing fits just dry mouth so haves a cup of tea and my e fag and then every thing comes out then not to bad sins doing it this way I have not been in to hospital for a long time and I am very sever copd tell him to try at the end of the day it do not cost any thing GOOD LuCk

  • I have slept in a riser/recliner for the last 8 years, and regularly get a good 6 hours sleep despite being severe stage 4 COPD (fev1=32%) and on LTOT. I can't sleep flat on a bed, and also due to water retention need to elevate my legs. It's really comfy and I often fall asleep while relaxing in front of the tv. Mine is a single motor chair with just one simple control, which can raise you to a virtual standing position, great if you're not very good at getting up from a low base. The dual motor ones are more expensive and complicated, but whichever you choose, remember you can get the VAT removed.

  • welcome to the site nat-tat,,,that was a very good post by tadow,, many other good posts too,,,, but the reason i say tadow,s post, is, this is what happened to me, my sats were dropping very low at night,i was up nearly every night,,,,but since having oxygen,ive been sleeping better,[best to try sleeping sitting up,, better for lung function]

    i also have a reclining chair [i got mine from nhs its a kinda plastic one, but beggars are not choosers lol, i just put a cover on it,, then slip off lol]] this was mainly for my back ,but sometimes i do sleep in this, backed up with pillows.,,,,sometimes i sit on the control by mistake, and think i am going up to heaven quicker than i thought:) its a strange feeling at first lol

    i dont know about taking sedatives, but i am prescribed oramorph,, any difficulty in sleeping, i just take 10 ml,,,

    maybe something milder would help,,, does he have a nebulizer, or oxygen, maybe worth looking into,, its a rotten situation to be in,, horrible, im sure most of us know that,,,,, i just hope/pray he gets something that will help him,, kindest regards,,,jimmy

  • Having trouble replying but great site. trying back rest then recliner. you are funny jimmy! xx

  • receiving you loud and clear nat-tat,,,lol

    good luck to you ,,,,i hope the back rest works, if not go for the recliner,, even the queen has one of those,,, [not sure its an n,h,s,one though:)],,

    good luck to you nat-tat ,,stick in now,, all the very best jimmy xxxx

    nice to have a smile, if at all poss. at times lol x

  • 10 mls Oramorph! That's quite a dose. Personally, I would be wary of taking that much at night as it can really slow your breathing down, but whatever your healthcare professional recommends. I use it purely for reducing stress and calming shallow breathing 2.5 - 5 mls and it works really well, although it is specifically not recommended for COPD sufferers! By the by, as regards sleeping, I too have abandoned even the electric bed in favour of reclining chairs, as I find the increased restriction of movement beneficial to sleep. Important to get the feet above the seat though to avoid major fluid retention. (COPD 8 years FEV1 18%)

  • hi baron, yes it is quite a dose,but for me its really for pain, but you are right 2,5ml can often beneficial for relaxing or calming the breathing, and 10 ml is as you say, quite a dose, i think my g p has prescribed this dose as i am well used to it ,it started at 2.5 ml,,,then 5 ml, and now 10 ml,[over a few years],,, every 4 to 6 hours,,,"as needed", being on strong painkillers for underlying illnesses [both illneses fighting against each other i,e meds for one does not help the other and vica versa],, for many years,,, but i try to take these, as little as poss, as it makes me too tired.

    strangely enough, this very last night i fell asleep on my reclining chair by sheer accident,,, or exhaustion!!, the leg bit wasnt up properly, i woke up sliding off it at 3,15 this morning, mine is a nhs plasticy type, i had put a flannel cover on it to sit on, this off course made it "slippy" especially the way the recliner was set,,, aiming at the ground, if you can see what i mean. but woke up with a "start" lights and tv still on, i was in a bit of a state with my breathing, and took some time to "come too" and done my repeated nebs, lucky i had my oxygen on, etc,,,, so not the best of days today,,, i did have an hour or so in my bed about 11am.

    i also have fluid retention but take water tabs, but i often wonder why they say "keep your feet/legs up" as the fluid must still be there, somewhere!!!,, anyway baron, best of luck with your chair i hope it gives you some relief ,,

    me,, ill just be glad to get this day in,, not the best of days,,,, jimmy

  • Hi nat, Welcome to the site, Iv'e given up with trying to get a good sleep pattern, so i just get some sleep when ever possible. I use a v pillow and 4 other pillows to keep me in a elevated position in bed, I find this gives some relief, because laying too flat starts you off coughing. I hope your dad manages to get some sleep. Take care Nannyb xxx

  • * I have copd. I suffer insomnia because of the albuterol inhalers, nebulizing with albuterol, the Symbicort & Spiriva not to mention the steroid therapy I have to do once a month. I'm on an oxygen generator 27/7. All of the meds increase My adrenaline so the lungs function better & the oxygen is a noise in My head. Put it all together & I suffer. My Pulmonologist said I could take a mild form of sleep aid so I take ambien. Sleepy Time teas help. I do not recommend over the counter sleep aides as they're not 100% safe & effective.

    * If Your step Dad gets online get Him on Facebook. I find having over 300 friends I don't ever see in Person but visit with everyday can tire Me out. Twitter's not as personable. Reading could also be a plus.

    * I hope & pray for Step Dad's sake He finds something soon otherwise He may become unbearable (like I did for a short while).

    * BTW, My Daughter pointed out how My lack of rem sleep was causing My short temper & inability to deal with My GrandKids.

    * My name on My Facebook page is DeeDee.Stone.3 & if He decides to go that route I'll help Him as best I can. I'm a good friend. I listen. :-D

  • Hi Nat-tat

    Reading through the replies theybare as always spot on, firstly I am sorry to hear about your Step Dad that sounds distressing for you all. Medical review sounds a goid idea heart and lung unit via GP. Not sure what part of the country you are from but different techniques / equipment to adapting the environment are critical in supporting the person to maintain comfort and level of independence. May be worth asking for an Occupational Therapy (OT) assessment via the Gp, Community Matron (which are wonderful at supporting people at home), Social Services department or community hospital.

    OTs are specialist in adaptations, have access to equipment services (which may include a raiser recliner) etc.. There are also Independent Living Centres across the country, pop it into the internet to find your local centre, they have OTs based in them and have all kinds of equipment for people to look at (they do not sell equipment so no sells pressure) they provide an assessment and advice service only which is free of charge. They often have a good range of raiser recliner armchairs to trial and can discuss the needs/measurements etc to avoid costly mistakes. They have other equipment small aids like helping hands (long handled reacher); bathing

    equipment, walking aids, scooters and bundles of information so a phone call is nearly always

    helpful. I know quite alot of people that have choosen to sleep in a riser recliner but it is

    critical to get the right advice. Goodluck and remember you and your family are not alone x

  • I suggest that you ask your GP to refer your stepdad to the Respiratory Specialist practitioner team who should be based at your local hospital. They will assess him thoroughly and he may be given an NIV mask/machine, which you wear at night. I have had one for the past 3 years, it may feel uncomfortable to begin with but get used to it. I sometimes put it on during the day especially after having a shower which can leave me very very breathless, wearing this for an hour really helps. Hope he can be sorted.

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