By Rick Phelps
Sleepless nights. We all have dealt with this—caregivers especially. When a loved one is up for whatever reason, they have to be too. You never know what might happen.
I am blessed in a way; I do have many sleepless nights, but I am still at an early enough stage where I can get up, and at least Phyllis June can stay in bed.
I think we went to bed about 11:00 PM last night. It took me a long time to get to sleep, and I was wide awake at 2:00 AM.
When this happens, it throws my entire day into a tailspin. From the time a patient wakes up until the time they go back to sleep, their mind is racing.
It's just what happens. We become mentally drained because of this disease, and when you add the lack of sleep into the mix, then you have a real disaster waiting to happen.
I can only imagine what it is like to try to care for your loved one with only three or four hours of sleep daily—sometimes less. This becomes a bad situation for everyone involved.
The caregiver obviously is on thin ice from lack of sleep, and even their decision making can be impaired at times because of this.
I will definitely lay down sometime later today, but it sure puts a damper on what is already an impossible situation at times. As I said, we patients are constantly fighting with memory deficits and being mentally drained. I don't know what is worse: dealing with this or trying to explain to people that there is just nothing that can be done for this situation.
I take enough medication at times to drop a fully grown elephant. I also take sleeping pills prescribed by my doctor. They don't work, and they never have. A lack of sleep is something I have dealt with for years now.
I remember my doctor telling me to get sleep whenever I can. It doesn't matter if it’s in the middle of the day. In other words, don't be concerned that your loved one seems to be sleeping too much and at odd hours.
My guess is that they rarely get any good, restful sleep at all, and if they do, it's very rare. Like I said, I have been battling this lack of sleep for as long as I can remember.
One day there will be something that can be done for the sleepless nights patients have to deal with. And, when that happens, that will result in the caregiver being able to get more restful sleep as well. There just isn't anything that can be done right now…
I have done everything to try to get a restful sleep. I have heard all of the usual suggestions and tried many different things—all to no avail. Some people have suggested attending a sleep clinic. However, the problem is that this issue stems from dementia. It isn't something that can be analyzed and "fixed" in a sleep clinic, for example.
The one thing I do know is that there isn't anything on TV at two in the morning. Thank God for Memory People… I usually read some posts that I had previously overlooked during the wee hours of the morning.