Sleep apnea and your lungs

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is often associated with sleep apnea. Indeed, studies have shown that the prevalence of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) in people with COPD is higher than the general population.1

COPD refers to a progressive deterioration of the respiratory system by blocked airways and decreased airflow. This can apply to a number of lung disorders such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and in some cases, chronic asthma.

If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, you may exhibit symptoms that profoundly impact your sleep, such as:

  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Frequent nighttime urination

In addition, medication used to treat COPD may cause insomnia or daytime sleepiness.2 Simply having to wake up and take prescriptions on schedule may also disturb your sleep.

Patients who have both COPD and sleep apnea have “overlap syndrome,” which may cause extreme fatigue and other health problems.

If you have COPD and sleep apnea, talk to your doctor about getting proper treatment. Therapy options like noninvasive ventilation (NIV) can help you decrease the sensation of breathlessness and help you breathe better.3 Most importantly, proper treatment can help you reduce frequency of hospitalisations and may reduce mortality.3 At ResMed, we’re supporting multiple global trials that evaluate mortality benefits, as well as quality of life and other outcomes in COPD patients treated with NIV.

ResMed can help you live and get your life back with innovative solutions. Discover the benefits of treatment.


  1. Carlos Zamarrón, Vanesa García Paz, Emilio Morete, and Felix del Campo Matías. Association of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and obstructive sleep apnea consequences. Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. Dec 2008; 3(4): 671–682.

2: National Sleep Foundation: “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Sleep.”

3: Lightowler, J.V., et al., Non-invasive positive pressure ventilation to treat respiratory failure resulting from exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ, 2003. 326(7382): p. 185.

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