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Disturbed sleep for patients with COPD

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People with COPD experience disturbed sleep because of anxiety about breathlessness, concludes a study that aimed to investigate patients’ perspective of sleep and the role of sleep in quality of life.


Ten patients with moderate to severe airflow obstruction completed questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Six reported bad sleep but all described some sleep problems. Fears of breathlessness, panic and dying affected their sleep as well as feelings of isolation, vulnerability and frustration. They also reported a lack of support from GPs and few had received advice about managing sleep problems.

Patients reported sleeping better during the day and when they had easy access to support systems, such as being in hospital and respite care.

The authors suggest that this issue of COPD and sleep disturbance is complex and should be discussed at clinical consultations.

Shackell, B.S. et al (2007) ‘Am I going to see the next morning?’ A qualitative study of patients’ perspectives of sleep in COPD. Primary Care Respiratory Journal; 16: 6, 378–383.

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