How To Increase Oxygen Levels While Sleeping? Tips To Treat Hypoxemia

If you are dealing with abnormal oxygen levels then it can be a result of a physical abnormality which can affect your sleep. Follow this article to know how to increase your oxygen levels while sleeping.

Every human body requires oxygen to function properly. It is required by every cell of your body but some of the diseases or medical conditions can make it difficult for you to breathe properly. It can affect the oxygen saturation level of your body and further create problems in functionality of different parts of the body.

This problem can particularly make it difficult for you to sleep at night because the oxygenation level slows down even more when you sleep. This problem is called hypoxia and requires proper medical treatment. Along with medical treatment one needs to make some lifestyle changes as well to increase the lung functionality.

In this article, we will cover all the aspects related to the oxygenation level of the body including its symptoms, different ways to normalize the oxygenation level and how one can increase the oxygen levels while sleeping.

Normal oxygen level while sleeping

We are all aware that sleep plays an important role in the functioning of the body but we often neglect the quality of sleep we get. One of the elements that influences the quality of your sleep is a sufficient amount of oxygen level. Oxygen reaches our tissues and cells through lungs. It enters into our bloodstreams in the form of tiny air sacs. Hemoglobin present in these blood streams, carries it further to the cells and tissues which makes it work properly. The cells and tissues can not store up the oxygen so this supply has to be constant. Therefore, when the body is unable to supply.

Oxygen is an important requirement of every cell and tissue in our body but some of the people do not have an adequate oxygen level when they are sleeping. This is a sign of unhealthy functionality of the body. The oxygenation level of the body is called oxygen saturation level in the body. The normal oxygen saturation level required by a healthy body varies between 93% to 100%. If it drops below it, then the functionality of the body gets affected and gets prevalent in some of the symptoms.

It should be noted that the oxygen level of every person drops when they sleep due to a reduced level of breathing so one can not assume that the oxygen saturation they have when they are awake will remain the same when they go to sleep. A person having oxygen saturation of 94% in the daytime will experience a drop below 88% which is not a healthy level of saturation and requires attention.

Symptoms of low oxygen levels at night

When the body does not supply enough oxygen, it can give rise to health problems. One of the conditions that arises due to inadequate oxygen is called hypoxia. Every person’s body reacts to this condition in a different manner in which the symptoms may vary depending on the intensity of hypoxia. The lower the oxygen saturation the severe the symptoms will be. Some of the common occurring symptoms are as follows:

  • Abnormal heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Change in skin color
  • Vision distortion

Causes of low oxygen level at night

Have you ever wondered about the cause of this condition? There can be a number of reasons for low oxygen level in your body. It disturbs the breathing pattern of the person so this can be due to the body’s abnormality due to a disorder or a problem in the source of oxygen. Here are some of the causes of low oxygen saturation in a body at night:

  • If you are having a lung problem such as lung compression then it will be difficult for your body to supply oxygen.
  • If you have any sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or you sleep in a wrong position then it can cause low oxygen level.
  • If you have anemia then it can get difficult for your body to supply oxygen to cells and tissues because of the decrease in red blood cells.
  • If you have a heart problem then the inability to circulate blood can affect the oxygen saturation level in your body.
  • If there is not sufficient oxygen available in the environment such as on high altitudes then it can get difficult for your body to supply oxygen.
  • If you have respiratory syndrome then it can get difficult for you to breathe properly.
  • If you have pneumonia or asthma then your oxygen supply will decrease.

At what oxygen levels should you go to the hospital?

When a person’s oxygen saturation falls below 90% his arterial pressure to supply oxygen falls under 60 mmHg then there is a need for supplemental oxygen. One can observe it through symptoms but the major diagnosis has to be made by a professional doctor who will check your oxygen saturation through a device called a “pulse oximeter”. The doctor will clip this device to a part of your body (usually they stick it to your finger). It will help them identify the ratio of blood cells carrying oxygen and the ones that are empty.

Another procedure that doctors use to measure the oxygen saturation is called arterial blood “gas study”. In this method, the blood is extracted out of the body with a syringe and is put in an analyzer to measure the oxygen available in the blood. After the results, the doctor can ask you for some other tests considering your symptoms and then plan a suitable treatment for you.

How to increase blood oxygen level?

If there is an urgent requirement of oxygen in your body, the doctor can arrange it in the clinic or hospital by a mask-like cover which works like an inhaler and instantly provides oxygen to your body. There are other steroids that can help you maintain your oxygen level instantly but it is mild or generally occurs when you are asleep then there are some supplements that the doctor prescribes. Doctors usually prescribe medication when you are suffering from any disease such as sleep apnea or COPD as in these cases, the risk of low oxygen level increases.

If the medications do not work for some people, then usually doctors shift to other effective treatment options such as oxygen therapy called HOT (home oxygen therapy). Oxygen therapy helps people who have low oxygen levels due to heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Only a healthcare professional can recommend after proper assessment. The time and duration until the therapy should keep going will also be decided by your doctor. Depending on the intensity and health condition, some people require it for a shorter duration while some patients require it for a longer time.

It is conducted through devices so these equipment needs to be installed to your home. Along with this device some supplements can also be a part of your therapy which will be used according to the doctor’s prescription. Some of the equipments generally used by people for home oxygen therapy are as follows:

  • Standard oxygen concentrator
  • Liquid oxygen tank
  • Compressed oxygen gas tank

Standard oxygen concentrator

The oxygen is inserted into it in a filtered form as it takes in the air from the environment and filters it out leaving only the oxygen in the filter and removing all other gasses. This machine comes along with wheels to rotate to easily carry it to another place. However, it runs on constant supply of electricity and will not function if the power goes out. It is preferred because it is more reliable than other cylinder options because there is a lesser risk of rupturing or leakage.

Liquid oxygen tank

It is a thermos-like tank which carries oxygen in the liquid form as this way oxygen can be stored more so through lowered temperature oxygen is converted into liquid. When the oxygen is exerted out from this device, it converts back into gaseous form. It can be carried with you if you are going to some other place for a few days but it should be noted that it can run out because it slowly evaporates into the air.

Compressed oxygen gas tank

This device squeezes the oxygen for storage. This storage is carried out through the process of compression. There are different sizes available for this tank but the smaller ones will last for a short period of time.

Ways to inhale oxygen properly

Several types of equipment are used to inhale this oxygen from the supply. Some of the most common equipments are as follows:

  • A plastic tube called cannula is wrapped over your ears through two tubes while two small prongs are inserted in your nose. The other end of the cannula leads to the oxygen supply. It will provide a steady flow of oxygen and could dry out the nose. It needs little maintenance because you need to keep it clean by washing it after every few days and replacing it with a new one after every few weeks.
  • Another equipment used for the inhaling process is a mask. It gets fitted over your mouth and covers your nose too. It can be used as a substitute for cannula as well as some people getting irritated from cannula. It provides a high level of oxygen transfer and should be replaced after every 2 weeks.
  • Second substitute of a cannula is a transtracheal catheter. It is inserted in your body through a minor surgery. One end is a plastic tube inserted in your neck area into the windpipe while the other end is connected to the oxygen supply. The oxygen is directly flown to your airway through the catheter but there is a risk of infection in our neck opening.

Breathing exercises to increase oxygen level

It is not always necessary for you to go for the oxygen supplement and some of the minor disturbance can be dealt through certain exercises. It is the most natural way to increase the oxygen level and it benefits the people belonging from all age groups. There can be certain breathing abnormalities that are causing lower levels of oxygen into your body so we can.

Moreover,  it is a part of many treatment plans where the patients dealing with asthma, pulmonary disease or other diseases are taught several breathing techniques by their physiotherapists to increase the quality of their breath. Slow and deep breathing can increase the oxygen level in your blood which can be controlled through respiratory training. It makes you work on your breath by training your respiratory system to reduce the stress levels in your body.

Practiced in a regular manner can have positive outcomes and help you get rid of accumulated stale air. These techniques are not only restricted to the people having breathing problems but can also be practiced by everybody to improve their respiratory health and lung capacity.

These breathing techniques are as follows:

4-7-8 Breathing

It has been considered effective for peaceful sleep providing increased levels of oxygen to your system. It relaxes your body and eases the tension present so the blood circulation also gets better. This breathing technique brings deep relaxation to your overall body as the patterns involve holding and releasing of breath so it allows your body to replenish its oxygen.

It is short method which consists of the following steps:

  • Make a wind like “whoosh” noise by breathing out.
  • Now inhale the air from the nose and slowly count to four.
  • Now hold your breath and count to seven.
  • Exhale the carbon dioxide out from your mouth with a count to eight aligned with a “whoosh” noise.
  • Do these steps for a few more times.

This technique can be practiced more once or twice a day to reduce stress and provide relief from stress and insomnia as it provides your organs and tissues a needed oxygen boost.

ACBT exercises

It makes you change your body into different positions so that the chest clears out. It should be practiced in the following manner:

  • Sit in an upright position by leaning your head against a pillow on the headboard.
  • Then turn lie down completely, place two pillows under your hips and turn on one side.
  • Now turn your side to the other by keeping the pillows under your hips.

People having any injury in their chest or spine should ask their doctors if it is safe for them to practice these steps.

Diaphragmatic breathing

We often do not breathe properly and make it difficult for our body to inhale the proper amount of oxygen it requires. This technique is also called belly breathing. Some people consider that if they have their chest rising during the breathing process then they have inhaled the maximum amount of oxygen which is not actually true. A proper breath will make your belly expand during the process instead of the chest. It should be practiced in the following manner:

  • Sit in an upright position then keep one hand on the stomach and the other on the chest.
  • Then inhale the air slowly through your nose until you start feeling your stomach expand.
  • Now exhale the carbon dioxide from the mouth slowly.
  • Repeat these steps a few more times for at least 15 minutes.

Sleeping position to increase the oxygen

Another factor to influence your breathing quality is the position you sleep in. Sleeping on your back especially in the condition of sleep apnea can make it difficult for your body to inhale the proper amount of oxygen. Sleeping on the side decreases the risk of collapsing as your soft tissues do not get in the way of your breath during your sleep. Moreover, stretching out while sleeping onside can also increase the lung capacity of the person.

Therefore, one should sleep on his side to release the weight from the airway and clear out the obstruction caused while breathing.

Foods to increase oxygen levels in body

Body functionality does not only depend on enough rest but we also need to make sure that our diet is also benefiting the functionality of our body to maintain the proper oxygenation level of the body. The health of your lung and airway plays an important role in the quality of your breath and oxygenation level. It will make your organs perform in a better way by taking in oxygen and crying it to the cells and tissues.

Your diet should be full of nutrients and if your body lacks any important nutrients then there are supplements one should take to recompense the loss. For instance, people suffering from anemia should include food rich in iron such as green leafy vegetables, lentils and red meat. Foods rich in vitamin D such as fatty fish and fruits can also improve your oxygen level.

Moreover, harmful habits such as smoking and alcohol can also affect the lung functionality of your body so you should cut it down to increase the oxygenation level in your body. Quitting cigarettes completely can increase the lung function up to 30%.


People with hypoxemia can find it difficult to sleep peacefully at night due to disturbed pattern of breathing. It can affect the overall health of the person. Therefore, treating sleep-related hypoxemia through different means of supplements, sleeping position, breathing exercises and a rich diet. People with severe problems are asked by the doctors to install an oxygen source and work on the environmental factors. For mild problems, people need to make certain lifestyle adjustments to reduce the symptom and balance their oxygen level for healthier life and quality sleep.