Dialysis and Sleep

sleepI recently got the question: “Why do dialysis patients sleep so much?”   Some patients would answer that question with another:  “What are you talking about?” because we often have sleep disorders like insomnia.  I wrote about “Dialysis and Insomnia” because so many of us share that.  I also wrote about “Dialysis and Sleep Apnea”  because that’s another issue we often share.

The short answer to the question is: “Because we often have problems sleeping”.  But, that’s hardly an answer, is it?   The longer answer is: “There no specific reason.”  Wait! That’s not longer.   How about because we are tired for a number of reasons including insomnia, sleep apnea, general lethargy, medications, boredom, relief from pain, etc.

There are some patients that can fall sleep almost before the needle stick! Wow!  Must be nice.  And, there are some that sleep through almost all their dialysis treatment.  I can’t.  If I do sleep, it’s only for a few minutes.   My record is almost an hour.  Whoopie!

Sleep is extremely important but, alas, far too many of us have problems with it.  I’ve talked with a lot of patients about this and many don’t take any sleep medications (some because they can’t). A typical pattern is that they sleep for a couple hours, are awake for a couple, then repeat this cycle until it’s time to go to dialysis. My concern is that they are not getting enough proper sleep; an eight hour sleep cycle.

See the image above for information about a complete sleep cycle.  It begins with Alpha Sleep and finishes with REM Sleep during which we dream and process all the information from our waking hours.  If we don’t sleep long enough, we don’t complete the cycle and we feel sleep-deprived the next day.

I’ve found that using a sleep medication helps me.  I’ve been taking them for over four years.  I sleep all night through and with few side-effects.  However, I had the chance to experiment by not using those (mostly because I’m between insurance providers and medications are in short supply or I have to pay full price for them and I can’t afford it.) I didn’t sleep well last night without them.  I woke up several times and didn’t feel like I got a full night’s sleep.

Although I took my sleep medication, I’m up in the wee hours of the morning now as I write this post.  I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep.  So, I sit at my computer and write.  I suspect it may be a bad batch of generic medications.  The manufacturers of generics are not the most reliable group as I posted in “Dirty Medicine“.   A friend of mine was telling me about her sleep cycle and it’s very much like mine, too.  She goes to bed about midnight and awakens at 3 or 4.  I’ve talked to others with a similar pattern.

Unfortunately Medicare Part D (that I’m currently on) doesn’t pay for any of my sleep meds.  I’m new to this because I changed nsurance plans last month.  They sent me a letter that said they’d pay for one prescription refill but no more.  So, I’m not sure what I’m going to do about sleeping.  And this fact, may explain why so many dialysis patients have sleep problems;  they can’t get them because they can’t afford them and Medicare won’t pay for them.

But, I wanted to address this issue and I’ll add more to it as I discover more about it in the coming months.  It’s obviously going to be a real problem!

© 2013 DevonTexas

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About DevonTexas

I am a person with ESRD (End Stage Renal Disease) which means my kidneys don't work. Forty or so years ago that would have been a death sentence but today there is Dialysis which means I can be hooked up to a machine that will clean my blood as the kidneys should. Three days a week, I go to a center and have too very large needles stuck in my arm to remove and replace my blood as it passes through a process where it's cleaned and the fluid is removed, a process taking a little over four hours each time. I want to advance knowledge about dialysis so that other patients can learn from my experience and mistakes. We shouldn't have to reinvent the wheel, eh? There is so much to be learned and experienced about our predicament. There are vast resources available to support us and enrich our lives but many patients don't know about them. There are also many issues that we have to deal with whether we want to or not. So I blog about them. All comments are confidential until I approve them. If you don't want your comment public, let me know and I will respect that. So, feel free to leave a comment. Enjoy.
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