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a woman sleeping with an oxygen mask and a wedge pillow

Sleeping and COPD

If you are anything like me, your sleep was disrupted for a few years before your diagnosis of COPD. In fact, if I had known better at the time, I would have known that this was one of the first symptoms of COPD.

Menopause and sleeping

When the process of menopause began at age 50, I soon recognized that my daily living patterns were changing. These changes were not for the better. I was coughing more, excreting more phlegm and I was HOT! Once these symptoms were triggered, they fed on each other. As I would find out much later, the hot that I felt was above normal and caused by high blood pressure. Soon I began to shed suit jackets for sleeveless tops in my fruitless attempt to have one cool moment.

Racing mind when trying to sleep

As nighttime approached, I was fatigued and in great need of sleep. Once in bed though, my mind would begin to race and it could take me more than an hour to get to sleep. It seems I am unable to calm the multiple thoughts traveling through my brain once my head hits the pillow and when I wake at 3 AM I am unable to return to sleep.

Visual meditation for resting

I read about a possible solution called visual meditation and used it in an attempt to calm myself. My vision was building a cottage and I would keep my mind busy/ my vision was managing contractors that worked on my cottage. It helped me fall asleep for a while. Soon I would be interrupted by coughing and I was again waking breathless at 3 AM. I began adding more pillows in an attempt to sleep in a more upright position but I would soon slip down to a flatter position and the coughing would start all over again. My days are spent fatigued and tired as I am no longer able to sleep a solid 8 hours. I no longer wake refreshed as I was doing in the past.

Catching up on my ZZZZ’s

I somehow thought that I would eventually catch up, but going to bed earlier caused bigger problems and brought about a night of no possible sleep. Going to bed later in the evening simply meant less sleep as I continued to wake at 3 AM. Using over the counter medication meant I would fall asleep OK but staying asleep would prove to be another matter. Having a glass of wine or a strong shot of rye before bed helped me to get to sleep but 3 AM was still my waking time.

Awake at three AM

This pattern evolved and I continued waking at 3 AM unable to return to slumber. Having to get up at 6 am for work was proving to be tough. That was just when I would be dozing off again into a peaceful slumber. I talked to my doctor about my inability to find a sound sleeping pattern. He acknowledged that some of the medication I needed for my COPD could be causing some of these sleeping issues.

He ordered daily exercise and diet changes eliminating sugar and carbohydrates. I began taking a sleep aid, supplemental oxygen and using a BiPap to eliminate excess carbon dioxide. Having purchased a wedge pillow, it keeps me comfortable and in an upright position. In spite of all of that, guess what time I am up every morning? 3 AM!

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.


  • BeverlyDeMarco
    5 months ago

    The only way I had a good 8 hours of sleep was taking Melatonin 3mg, ABOUT ONE HOUR before bedtime, I have been taking it for years and get a good night sleep and not drowsy the next day.I think I am in Stage3 of COPD NOW AND ON OXYGEN 24/7I am still able to get to REHAB FOR EXERCISE THREE DAYS A WEEK WHICH TIRE ME OUT AND HAD TO STOP CHOCLATE AFTER 5PM.

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    5 months ago

    Many people have said the same. Thank you for letting us know what worked for you. Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

  • Vittoria
    5 months ago

    Thanks Barbara for sharing your story. I feel your pain as I spend almost all night long up wide awake. I ended up sleeping/resting on the recliner. When I start getting somewhat sleepy (around that magic hour of 3am) I go back to bed and sleep for a couple hours more. I hate waking up feeling fatigued and sleepy. I bought a weighted blanket to see if that would help. It makes me feel comfortable and snug but does nothing for the sleep. I’ve just accepted the fact that I’m not going to have 8 hours of sleep anymore. I’ll think of you in the wee hours and know I’m not alone.

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    5 months ago

    Thank you Vittoria, I too, shall think of you.
    Thanks for chiming in. Barbara Moore (site moderator)

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