Chronic Bronchitis And Sleep

What is chronic bronchitis?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lung airways known as bronchioles.

Any infection of the lung airways leads to swelling, which in turn traps more dust, irritating the airway route and producing more mucus than usual.

Chronic bronchitis is where there is a productive cough for more than 3 months in a row for at least 2 years.1

It is an Obstructive lung disease because the inflamed bronchioles trap the air inside, making it difficult to exhale, which worsens other respiratory symptoms.

What are the symptoms of chronic bronchitis?

  1. Patient complaints of Malaise (body ache)
  2. Excess amount of productive cough. The colour of the sputum may be clear, yellow, or green2
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. A wheezing sound can be heard while breathing without auscultation
  5. Chest or abdominal pain
  6. Headache and tiredness

Homeostasis is crucial to the functioning of all organ systems, including the bronchi. Homeostasis is a state where the body attains its equilibrium, maintaining the internal environment and is crucial to allow the functioning of all the organs.

A stimulus→received by the receptors→control center→feedback by the effectors.

The respiratory system plays a vital role in maintaining homeostasis by allowing the exchange of gases, thereby keeping the acid-base balance in the body.

In chronic bronchitis, there is a failure in these gaseous exchanges due to the carbon-di-oxide trapped inside the lungs. This is due to inflamed bronchioles.

Carbon-di-oxide is a waste product that needs to be exhaled in exchange for oxygen. The build-up of excess Carbon-di-oxide inside the lungs and restriction to the inflow of oxygen impairs the body’s acid-base balance.

As the condition worsens, the person might find it difficult to breathe and perform his daily activities.

Does sleep help with chronic bronchitis?

Benefits of Sleep

Sleep is an excellent antidote to the body’s repairing process and plays an important role in an individual's life. According to National Sleep Foundation’s updated sleep duration recommendation, 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended for adults and 7-8 hours for older adults.3

A night of good sleep boosts positivity in an individual’s mood. During sleep, the heart rate slows down and there is a decrease in blood pressure. Lack of sleep that lasts for a long time increases the risk of cardiac diseases. Undisturbed sleep provides stress relief and helps in coping with anxiety, depression and improves mental functions. Leptin is an appetite suppressor hormone that is produced in more amounts during sleep which helps in controlling overeating.

Have you ever noticed that people who have got insufficient sleep tend to catch a cold or infection faster? The reason is the immune system. Our body produces cytokines (small proteins) that act as a shield to fight inflammation/infections. Insufficient sleep causes a decrease in production and hence the body is more susceptible to infections.

During sleep, the body remains in a gravity-eliminated plane. You breathe slowly and your intake of oxygen decreases. It is hard for a person with chronic bronchitis (COPD) to sleep in a gravity-eliminated plane as it might worsen the condition. Difficulty in breathing over time decreases the efficacy of the muscles of respiration like the diaphragm (the primary muscle), the abdominal muscles, and the intercostals. The person thus uses his accessory muscles like the sternocleidomastoid, the trapezius, and other neck muscles to breathe. Sleep provides rest to the respiratory muscles. However, it is one of the most difficult tasks to perform for a person with chronic bronchitis.

In chronic bronchitis, certain factors should be avoided so that the condition doesn’t get worsens.

  1. Stay away from smoking both active and passive
  2. Avoid exposure to dusty environments.
  3. Maintaining a healthy weight
  4. Occupational exposure to chemicals and smoke
  5. Overexertion during physical activity

Tips on sleeping with chronic bronchitis

Adjust your sleep position

Propping up the bed to around a 45-degree angle aids in sleeping.

Reducing the afternoon nap. The longer the afternoon nap, the shorter the night’s sleep.

Keeping low-maintenance home plants is a good choice to keep in the room.

Make sure the room is appropriately humid

The room must be well-ventilated to let the fresh air pass through.

Unplugging yourself from all electronic devices.

In the case of mild to moderate cases, brisk walking along with gentle breathing exercises appears to be helpful in chronic bronchitis.

Get assessed for sleep apnea 

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder where there is a stop and a start in breathing during sleep.

If you are finding it difficult to sleep, have headaches and a dry mouth in the morning, feel tired the whole day and your partner notices you snoring loudly, it is time for you to consult the doctor and get yourself assessed for sleep apnea.

Polysomnography is a sleep study done to assess sleep apnea.

In this, the following are observed:

  1. Your heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure
  2. Your breathing pattern including the oxygen level, and the snoring
  3. Your eye movements during sleep
  4. Any changes in the position


Chronic bronchitis is an obstructive lung disease that can turn life-threatening if not treated early. It is recommended to consult a doctor as early as possible to get an overall grasp of the condition.

People can modify their lifestyles, get periodic check-ups, and take care of the risk factors to perform daily activities throughout their life.


  1. Widysanto A, Mathew G. Chronic bronchitis. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 2022 Sep 29].
  2. Miravitlles M, Kruesmann F, Haverstock D, Perroncel R, Choudhri SH, Arvis P. Sputum colour and bacteria in chronic bronchitis exacerbations: a pooled analysis. Eur Respir J. 2012 Jun;39(6):1354–60.
  3. Hirshkowitz M, Whiton K, Albert SM, Alessi C, Bruni O, DonCarlos L, et al. National Sleep Foundation’s updated sleep duration recommendations: final report. Sleep Health. 2015 Dec;1(4):233–43.

Bhashwati Deb Barma

Bachelor of Physiotherapy,M.S., Ramaiah Medical College, India

Bhashwati is a Physiotherapist with a firm grasp of Paediatric physiotherapy and is currently working with special children in the community.

She has 6 years of experience working in hospitals and non-profit organizations set up. As a writer by passion, she is putting up her practical and academic knowledge into her articles. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
Klarity / Managed Self Ltd
Alum House
5 Alum Chine Road
Westbourne Bournemouth BH4 8DT
VAT Number: 362 5758 74
Company Number: 10696687

Phone Number:

 +44 20 3239 9818