Asthma and Sleep

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  • symptoms.
  • Avoid asthma triggers -- no two asthma patients are exactly the same and something that triggers an attack in one person may not in another. Asthma patients should learn what triggers an attack for them and take steps to avoid exposure to those things.

*Peak flow meters are available online and at most major pharmacies.

For people with asthma, especially children, it is very important to get adequate sleep. One common trigger of nighttime symptoms is dust mites. In order to reduce exposure to dust mites, make sure that the bedroom is clean and free of dust. Nocturnal asthma symptoms may result from decreased respiratory function during sleep. Taking anti-inflammatory medications may help this condition.

Also, there is some evidence that people with asthma are at greater risk of developing sleep apnea, a condition in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. A visit to a sleep center is required to determine whether a person with asthma also suffers from sleep apnea. People with asthma may request a referral to a sleep center from their primary care physicians.


According to the National Sleep Foundation's 2004 Sleep in America poll, about 10% of parents or caregivers say their children have trouble breathing (including heavy or loud breathing) while sleeping at least a few times per week.

Reviewed by Barbara Phillips, M.D., M.S.P.H.

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