Your sleep habits may worsen your asthma

Getting too little or too much sleep may worsen asthma in adults, a new study finds.

Researchers asked nearly 1 400 adults, 20 and older, with self-reported asthma about their sleep habits.

About one-quarter said they slept five hours or less a night (short sleepers), 66% slept six to eight hours a night (normal sleepers), and 8% slept nine or more hours a night (long sleepers).

Short sleepers were more likely to be younger and non-white, while long sleepers were more likely to be older, female and smokers, according to the study published recently in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Inadequate sleeping patterns

"Disturbed sleep in an asthma patient can be a red flag indicating their asthma isn't well-controlled," said Dr Gailen Marshall, an allergist and journal editor-in-chief.

The study warns that "consequences can be expected when sleep patterns are chronically inadequate", Marshall said in a journal news release.

Compared to normal sleepers, short sleepers had: a higher risk of an asthma attack, dry cough and an overnight hospitalisation during the past year; significantly worse health-related quality of life, including poor physical and mental health and inactivity due to poor health; and more frequent general healthcare use during the past year.

Compared to normal sleepers, long sleepers were more likely to have some activity limitation due to wheezing, but no other significant differences.

"Previous research revealed that poor sleep quality has a negative effect on asthma symptoms in adolescents," study author Faith Luyster said.

Good asthma management

"Our study shows that adults with asthma are equally affected by too little [or sometimes too much] sleep. Compared to normal sleepers, short and long sleepers had a higher proportion of people who reported having an asthma attack in the past year (45% vs. 59% and 51% respectively) and had more days with impaired health-related quality of life. Impaired quality of life was characterised by more days of poor physical and mental health," Luyster said.

Marshall said the study adds solid evidence to the practice of asthma patients discussing sleep issues with their allergist. Those discussions can help determine if they need to change their asthma plan to achieve adequate sleep as a component of overall good asthma management.  

Image credit: iStock

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