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Sleeping - COPD

Sleeping with COPD and Sleep Apnea


What is COPD?

COPD is the incident of chronic bronchitis or emphysema, a pair of commonly co-existing diseases of the lungs in which the airways narrow over time.  This restricts airflow to and from the lungs, causing shortness of breath. In clinical practice, COPD is defined by its characteristically low airflow on lung function tests.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder described by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep. Episodes last for 10 seconds or more, when the sleeper stops or virtually stops breathing, causing blood oxygen levels to drop dangerously low. Basically, there are two types of sleep apnea, according to the COPD Foundation.


Overlap Syndrome

When someone has both COPD and sleep apnea, it’s called overlap syndrome.  Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD and sleep apnea-hypopnea syndrome SAHS are both common diseases affecting respectively 10 and 5% of the adult population over 40 years of age, and their coexistence, which is denominated overlap syndrome, can be expected to occur in about 0.5% of this population.


Sleep is essential in humans to maintain cognitive performance and work productivity, as well as physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing . The acute effects of sleep deprivation include impaired cognitive, psychomotor and executive functioning. Longer term sleep deprivation appears to have additional detrimental impacts on metabolism and may contribute to the development of obesity.


According to the COPD Foundation, the best ways to treat sleep apnea if you also have COPD include:

Oxygen therapy, wear a mask over your mouth and nose as you sleep for optimal oxygen delivery. 

Oral appliances, these keep your tongue in place or your jaw pulled forward to improve breathing as you sleep.

COPD Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease therapy

Breathing, Sleep & Copd Printable Flyer - Great for printing out and those in need!