Advice please - how to get some sleep? - British Lung Foun...

British Lung Foundation
43,957 members50,926 posts

Advice please - how to get some sleep?



I am currently caring for my boyfriend whose condition has deteroriated dramatically in the last fortnight. A long time asthmatic. He's currently on anti-biotics and stereoids for bi-lateral bronchiectasis, plus a current throat and chest infection. He's been told to stop taking the anti-fungal tablets he was prescribed 2 months ago to help his allergy to Aspergillus. He has lost his voice completely, so I am doing his business calls too (he's self employed).

His coughing disturbs our sleep every 20 mins and he can't get into a comfortable position. He says it hurts less when lying face down, but he normally goes to sleep on his side or back and can't then drop off to sleep when face down.

It's pretty bad and we are more desperate every day as it has been like this for a week. I've seen a change in his moods, and mental health as well as the physical impacts, such as lose of appetite, breathlessness, zero energy, doesn't want to see any-one....

Has any-one got suggestions of what would help him (and me) sleep please? I can't find a way to help him at the moment and it is breaking my heart to see him suffer so much.

29 Replies

The only thing I can think of (for you) is a good pair of ear plugs, or maybe sleep in a different room until he has improved. Another option is, could he sleep in a semi sitting position, by putting extra pillows beneath his upper chest, shoulders, neck and head. which I finds helps me to cough less.

Thank you poemsgalore. Weve tried extra pillows but he says he cant get comfy...i might insist further.

Ear plugs are a reasonible idea....!

I would ask the advice of your health professional , just to check that his condition is improving .

Also prednisolone can affect mood and sleep patterns.

Thanks Knitter. saw gp just yesterday so too soon to expect antibiotics to have worked. The side affects of the stereoids are known but punishing!!! You've made me feel less alone by replying, so thank you

Has he see his GP recently? Perhaps he needs checking to see if antibiotics are working.

When he coughs is he coughing anything up.if he is ,he could perhaps be prescribed something to thin the mucus.

Take care

Thanks Oshgosh. Yes we saw gp just yesterday and he started the antibiotics on top of existing stereoid prescription. Too soon i suspect for antibiotics to take effect.

Yes he us coughing up a lot of thick creamy white mucus - about a cup ful a day if not more. we gave a sample to hospital on Monday so are waitingv for the results. A thinner to make it easier to cough it up sounds like a great idea.

Does he take steroids in the morning?they are known to keep you awake!

His prescriprion is for steteoids every 12 hours and he is taking them about 8am and 8 try and avoid them just before bed, but a really great point. Thank you

Hi, you sound a very kind and thoughtful person, looking after someone is exhausting and you need your rest. When I am unwell my husband sleeps in another room. This made us both sad but we manage by agreeing it is only a temporary measure and it has made a positive difference. I feel better as I can fidget/cough/put light on! Feeling very low in mood seems to happen to me every time I get a flare up of Bronchiectasis. I try to arrange something to look forward to when stronger, helps a little!

Best wishes x

Thank you very much Dibola for responding. His breathing is so bad that i dont think he should be alone right now. Plus having lost his voice he cant call for help.

For an average cold i agree and we have been in seperate rooms before....but he just seems too sick.

Sounds like you are both going through a really tough time. Do you have back up ? If you could have someone supporting you both so you could get good sleep every other night or so ? Hope you both find a way to sleep. X

Thanks Thinkhealthy - normally we'd have support from either set of our elderly parents - but his dad is currently in London in a cardiac ward, and my mum has had an eye op today - so the family is pretty torn right now. Great idea though.....I might call on my best friend if she can leave her partner to look after her adopted daughter who is only 9!

The poor guy sounds in an awful state .... I would feel happier if he had a home visit from a Doctor. However I have found apple cider vinegar with some warm water and a squeeze of lemon with honey mixed in soothed my cough when it was driving me crazy one night. I hope he gets relief soon ... you too! 💐

Thanks Gladwyn for a positive suggestion - I will add apple cider vinegar to this week's shopping list and see if that soothes the pain!!

I so hope it helps! 🙏

Advil PM for sleep and inhale silver through a nebulizer for 15 minutes twice a day until the infection is gone. (Purchase "Thank you Silver" online).

Hi OnefishTwofish . 👋

Before nebulizing anything that has not been prescribed by a medical doctor, please do make sure you and your boyfriend speak to his doctor about it. There are risks with any treatment. Some of the risks of using colloidal silver are a reduced ability to absorb certain medications , like antibiotics and Argyria. Please be safe.

Everyone has given such good advice. I have none to offer other than I hope he feels better very soon. Take care and best wishes.

Cas xx 🍀

Got it Caspiana - thank you for your care and thoughtfulness

Hi Margaret9999,

Thanks for the suggestion - I had not heard of anything like this before.

Have you seen GP about this? Phone asthma helpline or chest heart and stroke helpline?

Hi Gintyferguson,

Yes, we've been to see the GP, and spoken to the Respiratory Consultant at the hospital out-patients clinic that originally prescribed the stereoids and anti-fungal medications for his bi-lateral Bronchicectis and allergy to Asperillus. I haven't phoned the helplines you suggested - yet, but since joining this forum I have now got the number for the British Lung Foundation and will try them tomorrow depending on his sleep tomorrow.

Thanks again for your time to reply. I definately feel less alone

That's good , the BLF have a helpline too....there is always someone to talk to and offload. Hope you can get somewhere. Sounds pretty challenging.

Hi OnefishTwofish, the biggest thing your boyfriend can do to help with his cough is to clear his lungs on a regular basis. Your gp can give him mucodyne which helps to thin out the mucus so he can cough it out. I would also invest in a v pillow, put a normal pillow underneath so he is raised up and pull the side down under his arms, being raised will help to clear the mucus from his nose, they are very comfortable. I would also get him a very good multivitamin. It seems to take ages for an exacerbation to go when you have bronchiectasis. Its hard on you as well not getting any sleep, try earplugs for the moment. Once he is off antibiotics and steroids he could try antistimine which helps to dry up the mucus and helps you sleep. I do hope he gets better soon x

in reply to Izb1

Thanks Izb1 - I would never have thought of that, but now you say it - it seems to make sense! I will see if I can borrow one from a friend who was recently pregnant!!

Gosh. So sorry. All our thoughts are with you both. Seems to me if your boyfriend improves it will make life better for you. So key is improving him. Others have written with suggestions. To help chest and mucous and to help with breathing. Google - golden milk. A Turmeric based drink. I make my own version with added herbs - coriander, cinnamon, small nutmeg, small cayenne pepper and cloves, cumin and lots of chopped ginger, black pepper. Cooked with water to make a paste. Level teaspoon in a cup with warmed coconut milk and dollop of good honey. Can only say it seems to work for me. Helps my breathing and reduces my mucous. All known for anti inflammatory properties. Ginger aids sickness and digestion. Not medically trained so goes with usual safeguards.

Thanks Tryfan - sounds like you are making a curry paste, but we might well give it a go as we are both fans of curry!!

With Bronchiectasis he should be seeing a Pulmonary dr, not a GP...they generally lack the knowledge..he should have a sputum culture done to make sure he hasn't picked up another bacteria..should be sleeping on left side or back so as not to aggrabpvate Gerd..please hook up with Mayo Clinic connect...there is too much info to give you..Is he using airway clearance methods ie aerobika huff coughing to get rid of mucus.

HI Neville33

Thanks for replying. We are in the UK and I have never heard of a pulmonary doctor - but he was originally diagnosed by a consultant over 2 months ago at the hospital respiratory outpatient clinic. We took a sputum sample to the hospital at the beginning of this week, but I guess it will take awhile for them to come back to us. I will investigate Mayo clinic connect as I am unaware of this currently.

I'd love to say he was disciplined in doing his huffing cough exercises, but he is bringing up mucus through coughing fits about every 20 minutes at the moment, so he feels it redundant.....

I have told him what you said, so I hope it will sink in and we see some improvement shortly.

Thanks again for replying.


Sorry to hear your tale of woe - it's bad enough to be unwell but to not get any decent sleep is even worse. I went through a month or two if not being able to sleep properly so I tried the pillows idea which did not do any good at all for me. I then bought a proper folding backrest which took me a night or two to get used to but once I was used to it I was able to sleep quite comfortably. It's worth a try. Good luck!

You may also like...