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Woman walking from a bed to a recliner pulling a blanket

Sleeping: Recliner vs Bed

Sleeping is never easy when you have COPD. In the early stages of COPD, I developed a nagging cough that intensified when I lay down to sleep.

Laying down exacerbates that cough, and we can and will cough until we elevate ourselves. When coughing begins, it interrupts our sleep by waking us several times every night.

Many of those times, we are unable to go back to sleep. We wake up, and after that struggle is over, we end up feeling more tired than we were when we went to bed.

Benefits of coughing

Coughing is good for you. A productive cough, which accompanies mucus, allows us to rid our lungs of irritants that can make us sick and cause shortness of breath.

Coughing helps us to rid the irritants by moving mucus and expelling it up and out of the lungs. Having a cough is a symptom of issues that are lurking.

Pay attention to your cough and journal its changes and what it could mean to you. Any significant changes in mucus production, such as color and texture, should be reported. 

It could be time to begin your action plan, helping you feel better sooner, and it could save your life. Sleeping in an elevated position might also help keep GERD at bay.

Sleeping in a recliner

From time to time, those with COPD will sleep on a recliner chair instead of our bed. Having had abdominal surgery many years ago and unable to get comfortable in my bed,  I slept on my husband's recliner chair for many nights. 

This works for those of us with COPD because it helps to elevate our torso, and that helps us to control our cough. It also allows you to bend your legs while you sleep. We do have a hard time sleeping on flat surfaces.

Getting rest in your own bed

Some use an electronic bed, much like a hospital bed. It raises and lowers your head and knees with a remote, and in queen size, it often has dual sides for each person's preference.

It is a decadent piece of equipment and works well for those needing it. It is cost-prohibitive for me, and I imagine I might never get out of bed if I had one.

So how can we duplicate the rising and lowering of our bed? It can be done with pillows such as a body pillow or a wedge pillow.

COPD is a disease that often robs us of the sleep we need to repair our bodies. I find it hard to recover the next day when I don't sleep well.

My situation turned dangerous, and I needed to find a way out of this pattern. Whatever your preference, work on finding ways to make sleeping a celebration.

Splurge on the best sheets and blankets you can afford. Keep your bedroom clean, and bring in a plant or two.

Find ways to celebrate sleep.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 7th, 2024, Barbara Moore passed away. Barbara’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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