Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that has been associated with IPF and occurs when a person’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted for brief periods during sleep. This means your brain and your body may not get enough oxygen while you sleep. There is a chance that while sleeping, your oxygen levels may go even lower than during exercise. Oxygen is prescribed when oxygen levels go below about 88%.
Here are some reasons to consider night-time oxygen supplementation:
Improve sleep. Low oxygen levels can contribute to sleep problems. Several studies suggest poor sleep quality in patients with IPF. When overnight blood oxygen levels fall, it may cause you to wake up, thus disrupting sleep- reducing overall sleep time and causing broken sleep. This lack of restful sleep increases fatigue and affects your quality of life. Using oxygen therapy at night leads to less breathlessness and fatigue.
Boost immunity. Lack of sleep can weaken your immune system. Sleep affects how well your body recovers from injuries and how well your immune system works. Thus, if your oxygen levels drop while you sleep due to apnea or other disturbances, your body can become less capable of repairing itself and fending off bugs.
Protect against heart disease. Low oxygen levels at night can contribute to heart disease. Studies have shown that a drop in oxygen levels can cause increases in heart rate, blood pressure and higher levels of certain chemicals linked with inflammation, which may put extra strain on your heart. Using supplemental oxygen at night can reduce stress on your organs.
Uplift mood and mental health. Low oxygen levels while sleeping affect mental well-being. It may cause you to be irritable when you wake up and have morning headaches. It can also cause you to be confused or have a lack of focus the next day. It may worsen the anxiety and depression which you may already be feeling due to your disease condition. Using oxygen at night to help you sleep better may improve how you feel when you wake up in the morning as well as your mood throughout your day.
Improve sexual health. Men who suffer from sleep apnea tend to have lower testosterone levels, which can lower libido.
Improve survival*. Low oxygen levels during sleep are linked to poor survival in IPF. There may be a possible link between sleep apnea and lung damage which influences survival in patients with IPF.
Ask your doctor if you would benefit from an overnight oximetry study or sleep test to check your oxygen levels while you sleep and whether you would benefit from oxygen therapy at night.