American scientists have been able to establish a clear link between the severity of asthma attacks and the circadian rhythm. It turns out that the nighttime suffocation that most patients suffer from does not depend on whether you are asleep or awake.
According to the World Health Organization, at least 339 million people worldwide suffer from bronchial asthma. In their study, the researchers noted that about 75% of patients with this disease complain of worsening symptoms at night. Since attacks can be influenced by many factors, starting with the air temperature and ending with the comfort of the sleeping place, experts set themselves the goal of assessing how circadian rhythms – cyclical fluctuations in the intensity of various biological processes at different times of the day – affect the severity of asthma attacks.
To cut off other possible factors, the researchers conducted a rather harsh experiment in which 17 asthmatics participated, they were divided into two groups. In the first group, volunteers were required to stay awake for 38 hours in the same position in dim light, with breaks for snacking every two hours.
The researchers then conducted a “forced desynchronization” test, in which participants in the second group went through seven cycles of wakefulness and sleep for 28 hours in dim light. During the observations, specialists monitored the severity of asthma attacks and the need for an inhaler for all participants.
The results of both experiments showed that the “biological clock” does affect lung function during the day. Worsening occurs at about 11 pm and reaches its peak at 4 am. The severity of the seizures was also influenced by sleep conditions.
Scientists noted that they have yet to study the mechanism of this relationship, but suggested that circadian variations in the autonomic nervous system, the production of certain hormones at different times of the day, and temporary changes in lung tissues and cells of the immune system may affect asthma symptoms.