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  • Writer's pictureChristina Hunt

Rise and Shine. Tips on How to Start Your Day When You Have a Lung Condition

Tips on how to start your day when you have a lung condition

I don’t know why but as I sit here typing this blog, I seem to be singing “wakin’ up is hard to do” to the old 1960’s tune Breakin’ Up is Hard to Do by Neil Sedaka. Here are my adjusted lyrics (as some of you might actually chuckle and sing along…)

Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down

Comma, comma down dooby doo down down

Wakin’ up is hard to do

Don’t take my blankets away from me

Don’t wanna start my day in misery

If I hurry I’ll be blue

Cause wakin’ up is hard to do

Rememberin’ when it felt so right.

And sleepin wasn’t hard at night.

Thinking of all the tossin’ that I do

That wakin’ up is hard to do

Okay, I’ll stop now with the lyrics… cause I don’t want you all to see just how incredibly nerdy I can be. Getting back to the topic of waking up… For many lung patients, getting up and getting started with their day is an obstacle in itself. Many people with lung conditions struggle to get quality sleep at night whether they have an obstructive sleep disorder which requires them to wear a CPAP machine, they may make frequent trips to the bathroom, or they struggle with breathlessness or pain. I have put together some tips and tricks on how to start your day with a little more ease and less breathlessness.

Before You Get Out of Bed

Stretch it out – After waking up, stretching is a wonderful way to wake up your muscles groups and get your circulation going. What more convenient place to stretch than in the comfort of your bed while laying down? Start by stretching your arms over your head and then across your body. Stretch your legs out straight and then try crossing each leg one at a time over toward the opposite side to give your hips and back a slight stretch.

Pull Your Blankets up and Slide Out- One of the hardest things for lung patients is making up their bed. The act of bending over and pulling sheets and blankets up can cause you to be very breathless. While lying in the bed, reach down and pull the sheets and blankets up. When you get out of the bed, you can fold them back together and slide out. Once out of the bed, making up the bed should be as easy as flipping the fold back and adjusting a pillow. If you have a partner or spouse, ask them to make “their side” of the bed when they get out. That will save you extra steps in getting a large bed put back together.

Use Your Rescue Inhaler If You Wake Up Breathless – Many lung patients can get a feeling of just how difficult managing their breathless might be when they first wake up. If you wake up breathless, go ahead a use your rescue inhaler. (Read my “How to Take Your Inhaler” blog if you need to brush up on your technique.) I recommend keeping it on or in your bedside table for easy access therefore you don’t have to take a step before getting that medication on-board.


Bathe with less breathlessness by using the tips in one of my past blogs 7 Ways to Prevent Breathlessness While Bathing

Use Your Inhaled Steroids Before Brushing – A great time to take inhaled steroids like Advair, Flovent, Serevent, etc. is right before you brush your teeth. Many of my patients forget that they should rinse their mouths well after taking these medications to avoid thrush (a common fungal infection that you can get in your mouth and throat if you don’t rinse your mouth after using these meds). I recommend that you take your inhaled corticosteroids right before you brush your teeth. That way there is no question that you have rinsed your mouth well. Many of these inhaled steroids are “twice a day” medications so what better way to remind you to take them, then having them sitting right beside your toothbrush (which you are using twice daily).

Wear Your Oxygen – Standing for prolonged periods of time doing things like shaving, brushing your teeth, applying makeup, etc. can be hard to do without breathlessness. Wear your oxygen if you have it prescribed while in the bathroom bathing and grooming. You may need to remove it for a couple of minutes to do things like shaving close but it will help to lessen your breathlessness if you have it on.

Take a Seat – Many of my lung patients in pulmonary rehab have mentioned that they have placed a seat or bench in their bathrooms in order to “take a break” from time to time. Pacing and energy conservation is a cornerstone in managing breathlessness for someone with a chronic lung condition. Allow yourself plenty of time for a periodic break while getting ready. Have a chair handy in the bathroom if possible so that you don’t have to walk far to sit down.

Getting Dressed

Take the Top Drawers- Bending over and rifling through a dresser drawer to find an article of clothing can be difficult to do without causing breathlessness. Keep your “often worn” articles of clothing in the top drawers to prevent yourself from bending over for prolonged periods of time. If you must share a dresser or bureau with your partner or spouse, ask them if you can have the drawers closer to the top to make it easier to find and retrieve articles of clothing.

Eliminate Perfumes and Strong Scents – Using heavily scented perfumes and grooming products is a sure way to set off a reactive airway. If you become breathless when exposed to strong scents, try fragrance free shampoos, deodorants, and other grooming products. Avoid aerosols and powders that can be easily inhaled and cause lung irritation and shortness of breath.

Don’t Let Your Clothing Restrict Your Breathing – Many of my patients have found that wearing belts can cause them to feel breathless. Many women have opted for pants that have an elastic or stretchy waist band and many of the men have opted for suspenders to avoid feeling breathless while wearing a belt. Women should also avoid tight fitting bra straps that can restrict their breathing instead try comfortable breathable sports bras or camisoles with built in bras for support.

Slip On Your Shoes – Lung patients really feel breathless bending over to tie their shoes. I recommend when appropriate, wear a shoe that you can easily slip on. Also, if you check out my Life Hacks blog, you can convert laces that tie to elastic laces that look similar to the original. You may also benefit from the use of a long shoe horn to prevent you from having to bend over to assist with putting on your shoe. Avoid flip flops and any shoes that could come loose and cause a fall.

Dress in Layers – People with lung conditions do not typically like to wear heavy articles of clothing. Heavy jackets and sweaters can put weight on your shoulder muscles that are often used as accessory muscles to breathe. Dress in layers that are easily removed if you get warm. There are so many insulating light fabrics from worldwide brands like Nike, Reebok, and Under Armour that make warm clothing without the weight.

Do you have any other suggestions to make mornings and getting ready for the day easier? Please feel free to share them in the comments below. I would love to hear your ideas that I can share with other BreatheLiveFit readers!

Thanks for Reading!

Remember: We are in this TOGETHER!

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1,404 views4 comments


Christina Hunt
Christina Hunt
Feb 01, 2020

@babsevans thanks for reading and thank you for the extra tip! 🙂


Feb 01, 2020

This article / articals is so good to read can i add i use a breathing exerciser its just a little plastic mouth piece cost about $2 off ebay helps to control breathing


Christina Hunt
Christina Hunt
Jun 13, 2019

@bettybistrow Thank you sooo much! Your kind words mean sooo much!


Jun 13, 2019

Thank you for the very helpful articles, tips on things to do and so much more! I recently found this blog, and am so very thankful for the information I have gained from it. Please continue to do what you are doing because it is so very helpful to those of us with breathing problems.

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