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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD describes deficient airflow through the lungs due to combined aspects of two respiratory diseases: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. People with COPD work hard to breathe, yet achieve little in the way of the quality "gas exchange" that breathing should provide. Inhaling oxygen should enrich the blood and fuel the cells, while exhaling should release carbon dioxide, a waste product of the cells. With COPD, the airway tissues are permanently damaged and no longer adequately host this important gas exchange. In part, it’s because of the loss of elasticity of the lungs which inhibits the ability to breathe deep enough on a breath to breath basis, otherwise known as Tidal Volume.
People with COPD also overwork their accessory breathing muscles just to get minimal oxygen; their diseased lungs generate excess mucus that leads to characteristic coughing. Over time, they begin to suffer from hypoxemia (chronic low blood oxygen) and hypercapnia (chronic carbon dioxide overload). It's no wonder people with COPD are exhausted during the day.At night, things only get worse. They tend to sleep less, suffer from fragmented sleep, and enjoy less REM sleep because of the paralysis of their accessory muscles their breathing is more compromised during REM sleep. Add on the fragmentation of nonREM deep sleep—critical opportunities for the body and brain to repair tissues at the cellular level are impaired. Reductions in sleep quality only lead to more daytime fatigue. It becomes a vicious circle.While there is no cure for COPD, daily management includes steroids, bronchodilators and other drug therapies. However, at night, Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV) therapies can help stabilize sleep breathing patterns for those with COPD.
Imagine, then, what it must be like to have a lung disorder like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). People with COPD do not take in adequate amounts of oxygen during their wakeful moments; their muscular systems are dysfunctional, compensating for failures in their respiratory systems.
When they sleep at night, the struggle continues, with even less oxygen intake. The time when people with COPD sleep may be the most dangerous part of their day; between their frank respiratory problems and any secondary problems—hypertension, arrhythmia, even Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)—the chance they will experience acute respiratory problems at night runs high.