In the US the number of people diagnosed with asthma is around 1 in 12 and that is on the increase; but the only definite thing you can say about us as a group of people, is that we all experience shortness of breath.
Yes, there are certainly commonalities some of us share, but there are also aspects that are peculiar to us as individuals. If that’s the case, how can we begin to identify and manage all of our triggers for a full and productive life? Of course, ensuring we are taking the correct medication in the correct way is essential, as is doing all that we can to pinpoint what makes our asthma worse. But none of us can be expected to manage the unexpected or the unknown. Or can we?
While listening to a podcast regarding obesity, I was relieved to hear that doctors are gradually coming round to thinking that obesity and a whole host of other conditions can be alleviated to some degree, by treating ourselves better. That our overall health can be improved if a better diet, sleep regime, physical activity and stress alleviation, is employed.
Little changes, big results
Now, I’m not suggesting that you adopt a vegan lifestyle or start practising for the local marathon, but even little changes can help. Over the years I have come across some unexpected foods and activities that have helped and hindered my condition and have altered my lifestyle accordingly; but I have never considered the part that sleep and relaxation play on my overall health, well apart from knowing that a bad nights’ sleep results in me making bad choices and reaching for the carbs!
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should be getting between 7 – 9 hours of sleep per night, which for many asthmatics can be difficult because of the body’s natural defense against inflammation is less effective when asleep and our airways are less efficiently at night. When you consider this and the fact that, today ‘busy’ is worn as a badge of honor, it’s no wonder that stress and anxiety is on the rise.
When we are sleep deprived and anxious, not only are our decisions adversely affected, but our body doesn’t work to the best of its ability; hence, our asthma could become worse. So, maybe it’s time that we all stop watching just one more episode or catching up with social media, make sure we block out the light and discover if sleep and relaxation can indeed improve our asthma.