‘A Well Spent Day brings happy sleep.’
We all know that sleep is vital for our health; but how to reconcile this knowledge with how our illnesses make us feel ?
There I was last night falling asleep at 10 pm but unable to go to bed as I desired; since I suddenly began experiencing severe heartburn after taking my last dose of pills of the evening. So instead of finding rest in my own bed had to search for meds to relieve awful pain in my belly and throat which felt as if I open my mouth fire would surely come out. After taking several medications to ease the burning pain and drinking mint tea and passing the floor for at least a couple of hours my fiery pain was finally easing and although I was quickly becoming more alert through the whole ordeal I was eagerly anticipating a good nights rest after the last two weeks events which had maintained me extremely occupied and unable to sleep much. and then as many of you who live with a chronic illness in their life can relate as soon as one problem eases another pops up.
Sure enough after showering putting on my pj’s relieved my belly pain was FINALLY subsiding for me to be able to recline, a new pain set in. This one was of course a real pain in my derriere literally and figuratively! Now my hip was in deep throbbing pain for no good reason other than to interrupt my sleep. The pain which was centralized in my ischial tuberosity ( the siting bones of our pelvis) was worst with laying down- surely there was a low pressure storm brewing somewhere in my vicinity. More muscle relaxants needed along with stretching exercises and a deep massage to the area along with more pacing until pain began to ease around 2 a.m.
As you can see and know from personal experience – getting a good night sleep has multiple layers of complexity. In order to understand our problem and how to achieve better rest in order to delay cognitive decline, diabetes, heart disease among many other problems caused by poor sleep not to mention increase pain, fatigue, stiffness and increased depression, we have to look at the many facets blocking of what should be a non-challenging natural occurrence.
First, we have to understand that as we age our own circadian rhythms undergo natural changes. Hence, teenagers can sleep till noon while elderly people usually arise very early in the wee hours of the morning. More importantly is the fact that for those of us who suffer neurological illnesses such as PD or Alzheimer’s, our internal clocks can become completely unable to function and become disconnected. This disruption is what causes us to get confused and invert our sleep wake cycles- sleeping all day and up all night. We need to avoid this pattern because the disruption leads to accumulation of amyloid plaques hallmark of Alzheimer’s. In end stage Alzheimer’s and in PD people rarely sleep for long periods of time , rather they dose off and on all throughout day and night making the propensity for confusion, hallucinations, and psychosis that much worse.
The way to prevent and combat this natural tendency to shift our sleep caused by our disease is to make every attempt to reset our inner clocks. This takes a continuous effort on our parts. ( see ‘8 top sleep habits’– bit.ly/NN-SleepTips) experts have suggested that although maintaining a routine of bed time, the most important factor is Keeping a routine of awaking at the same time each day. This is I believe one of the biggest challenge’s we face. certainly for me. It’s easy during school days since I have to take my child to school however, it goes out the window during breaks and weekends. One way to help is making sure that the room you sleep ion is very dark at night but light comes in in the am. if unable to get light in, sleep experts recommend the use of a light box.
In order to improve night time sleepiness is….
Second, another common obstacle is pain, stiffness, discomfort- as I experienced last night. Pain is usually worst at night, experts says because of lack of outside stimulation to distract us from our pain. Sleep deprivation can cause a vicious cycle i.e. more pain hence less sleep.
Third, other medical problems or non-motor problems…
In conclusion, you have gathered already that proper sleep hygiene takes work and effort and that one fix does not fit all and even for same individual as disease progresses there are many factors involved which have to be addressed by you and your physician. Don’t be embarrassed to discuss or ignore. Adjust both your medications and life style to accommodate for these changes. May also require a stimulant during daytime to maintain sleep wake cycle which I often prescribed to my patients in conjunction with sleep aids. All in an effort to try to maintain a “normal” sleep wake cycle.
As I finish typing this blog, I have already taken my sleep aid so when I am done I will be ready for bed sensing sleep beginning to hit me before I get second wind and I am up all night again; which I could easily do and my body prefers. However, from experience as patient, doctor, and caregiver the next 24 hours will be mostly unproductive and exhibit poor concentration skills and decrease multi-tasking abilities. I certainly don’t need this nor do you since we all have responsibilities to attend to.
This week make time to start looking at your sleep habits closely and identify the problem areas then talk to your doctor to help find the right treatment for you. plus remember that your disruptive sleep patterns not only impact you but your bed partner as well who may become as sleep deprived as you from constant commotion in middle of the night.
Happy Sleep everyone……