Learning how to sleep with asthma can be a real challenge. Have you ever considered how sleeping in an elevated position can help?
Best sleep position for asthma
Discovering how to sleep with asthma is an important part of allowing your body to heal. The best sleep position for asthma is sleeping on your back with your head and torso elevated on a wedge pillow. Sleeping with your torso elevated does several things to combat nighttime asthma symptoms.
First, it helps your sinuses drain. Sleeping flat on your back causes mucous to pool in your sinuses and can make asthma symptoms worse at night. It is important to keep mucous and fluid moving rather than building up and staying still. The best way to do this is to sleep in an inclined position and allow gravity to assist the flow of fluid out of your sinuses.
Second, an inclined sleep position alleviates nighttime asthma symptoms by opening your chest cavity. Sleeping flat on your back can cause a feeling of tightness throughout your chest and lungs. This feeling of discomfort and tightness can trigger coughing, wheezing, and make breathing more difficult. You can combat this by using a wedge pillow to elevate your torso. This will work to increase your ease of breathing.
Third, sleeping on a wedge pillow helps with the circulation of fluid through your lungs. To help asthma at night, sleeping elevated uses gravity to move fluid while you sleep. This is important for lung function because it helps keep fluid from pooling in your lungs.
What kind of wedge pillow do I need?
When you are first learning how to sleep with asthma and are looking for a wedge pillow, you will quickly find that there are many different heights and kinds. Which one do you need?
For adults, the ideal height for a triangle wedge pillow for asthma is 12 inches. After placing your regular neck pillow on top of a 12-inch triangle wedge pillow, your head and chest will be at the ideal height to combat asthma symptoms.
Children who suffer from asthma can use a 7-inch triangle pillow wedge to sleep elevated at night. This height provides comfortable elevation for smaller bodies and still helps the sinuses and lungs drain. Sleeping on a wedge pillow will help children who suffer from nocturnal asthma sleep better.
In addition to a triangle wedge pillow for your upper body, you may want to use a knee wedge pillow to elevate your legs. Sleeping with your legs and torso elevated increases circulation throughout your whole body. Increasing full body circulation has many benefits, one of which is controlling asthma during the night. A knee wedge pillow will also keep you from sliding down the triangle wedge as you sleep.
Now that you know how to sleep with asthma, you can continue your healing journey. Get ready to experience true rest, even in the midst of the challenges that asthma can bring.
-Hillary Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy