My mom gets up just about every hour at night to go to the bathroom. What can I do to get her to sleep through the night?


I'm so tired that I get upset with her. We've ruled out anything medical and tried so many things......from white noise, not drinking anything starting in the early afternoon, staying up later, going to bed earlier, eating less, eating more, melatonin/natural sleep aid, different types of bedding (everything cotton), excerising each time we get up, not talking at all, just going to the bathroom and getting back in bed, I'm out of ideas and I'm exhausted all of the time. She broke her hip about 3 months ago and has recovered so well, but this night time thing is awful for her, and for me. I hate to admit it but the lack of sleep is making me impatient with my Mom, whom I love so very much. She lives with me and is a wonderful lady...such a great attitude and so postiive 99 percent of the time. I feel like such a rotten daughter for not just dealing with this 'one' thing, when everything else is so good. I want to stop being impatient at night when we have to get up, so I go into another room and cry and then come back and lay down to try to get some sleep. Tonight I'm writing this note to see if anyone has any other ideas or things that you've tried that may work for us. Oh, and Mom is 94 and has short term memory dementia. Prior to her fall and broken hip, she stayed in her own room so I have no idea if she was getting up so many times during the night before. I guess I feel even worse because there are so many other people out there with such worse situations than me, that I should be happy that we have it so good.



Please don't feel guilty. You are under incredible stress from lack of sleep. Your mom's short term memory issues may be dementia of the Alzheimer's type and the trauma of a broken hip and subsequent hospitalization may have pushed her dementia farther down the road. This is a documented issue with hospitalized elders, especially those with AD.
Your mom is remarkable to have recovered this well from a broken hip at her age. Statistics about this would make a complete, long term recover quite rare.
First of all, of course, you need to talk to her doctor about this, and you should also discuss your health with your doctor. You can't keep this up. If her doctor has no better ideas, it's entirely possible that, even though you won't want to hear this, for both of you it may be time for a good nursing home where they have staff shifts who can deal with this. You are placing too much on yourself, and this will affect your ability to be a good caregiver, to say nothing of putting your own health at risk.
Who will be there for your mother if you go down? If she is in a good facility (assuming the doctor has no better suggestion), you will still be there for her as a caregiver and her advocate. Please take care of yourself. She would feel horrible if her situation damaged your health irreparably.
Take care,
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Carol Bradley Bursack

Maybe hire a night nurse? And you sleep in your own room. Cheaper than a nursinng home and you can still keep her at home. If your like me, I want to keep my mom near as long as I can take it. My health is declining from stress, but I'm going to hang on.
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Reply to Here4her

I am really new to this site but have been caring for my grandfather-in-law for the last 5 years off and on but the last 2 years continuously. We had the same problem except we have a 4 year old that without fail he would wake up every single night when he made his rounds. After a few weeks the lack of sleep got to me as well! I tracked the extended potty breaks to 2 things. The first problem was that after he went to the bathroom he wasnt able to go back to sleep because there was nothing going on at 2AM. I went to Walmart and bought some glow in the dark stars that simply stick to the ceiling. I put a few around his room and a few on his ceiling fan. Now when he lays back down he can watch them until he falls back to sleep. (I did the same thing with my daughter) The second reason was he wanted to check on all of us and make sure we were breathing and havent left (which we have never done) in the middle of the night. My solution for that was a baby monitor. I put one in his room and one in ours. I told him that our end was a mic and his was just a speaker so that if anyone got up or if there was a problem he would hear it. The catch is that I never turned our end on. As long as the green light is on in his room he thinks he is able to hear everything that goes on. Then he doesnt worry about us. The monitors dont actually have to work so you could probably find a set on craigslist or worst case scenario they are like $15 new for the cheapest ones!
I know its a little dishonest but I needed sleep! We are going on month 2 of not waking up in the middle of the night!
Hope it helps!
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Reply to amandajoy1851

Hi there, I also went thru this with my mom who lives with me. She got up so many times and its drove me crazy after her broken hip and they think maybe from the catheter, never knew. Then, I went thru it with her again about a year later and it lasted almost a year. I will tell you what I did. I begged the doctor to treat my Mom for an UTI even thou the urine culture was negative, it helped off and on. Also, I have her door cut in half with a hook lock on the outside. She got up, stood there and said "hi" and went back to bed at least 15 times a night. (kind of like a Mr Ed door if you remember that show, I can see her from my bed)
3rd, she went on depakote and it relaxed her brain and she started sleeping.
(Have you listened to her, do you hear her pee?) My Mom also wen thru a stage where she dropped her pants and peed all over the floor many times!! I had to make her pajamas she couldnt get off! I think your Moms is probably just aggitation from the dementia but try them all , one WILL work!! I have to tell you, I sometimes didnt sleep more then 2 hours a night , my cna came, and I still went to work. When someone else at work told me they were tired I felt like slugging them! LOL What you are going thru is horrible, but it will end and My Mom also is/was a great Mom so I put up with it. She now sleeps 12 hours a night on depakote and she doesnt have any attitude outbursts. Hang in there, you're a fabulous daughter!
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Reply to anonymous101100

I'd suggest getting a portable potty that you can set next to her bed. She won't have to go far to get to it so maybe she can do it herself.
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Reply to NancyH

Don't minimize this, KJSpradlin. It is not "just" a getting up at night issue. That is often the critical factor that tips the decision to out-of-home placement. Sleep deprivation is, after all, used as a torture device. It is not trvial or unimportant.

Bringing in night help is one good idea for keeping Mom home. You HAVE to sleep. Get someone else in who can stay up reading or knitting and help Mom when she needs it. Get a bedside commode. Would Mom be able to handle it without your help?

But the best solution would be for Mom to sleep through the night, too. Could you convince her to wear Depends at night. If she has the urge but doesn't really produce much volume (losts of false alarms) maybe not getting up would work. But I would go back to the doctor with facts in hand. The list with when she got up, how long she stayed up, what she did. And a clear summary of what this is doing to you. If the doctor understands that solving this is what is going to allow you to keep Mom at home, and that that is very important to both of you, he or she may be able to get a little more creative in the solution.

Good luck!
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Reply to jeannegibbs

There are certain foods that help you sleep, I saw this on Dr. Oz. you gotta love that man. I can only remember MILK is one Oh and wine. Maybe check out his web site and get more info on that.
My Mom (in NH) uses the bathroom alot as well, (as I may have mentioned in an earlier posts). She didn't like the diaper issue at all, used as precautionary purposes, and when she'd go to BR she'd have to remove it so she could go. I think this confused her because at this stage she's aware of what is normal or comfortable. So then they tried pull ups, they serve the purpose and she can go the regular old fashioned way. Funny thing....she told me "these underwear are wierd but it's better than none, this is all I have now, someone stole my regular undies". At least she didn't say that I stole them, this time.
Which reminds me of a Major reason of .....why it is better for both of us that she's in a NH. She is better behaved for the staff as far as making changes in routine for her needs, even her eating habits are better. The NH says this is the way it is, to her, and she listens, no problem, when I was doing that she hated me. I am aware of all the changes and if I see a problem I address it but she just thinks she's independant and we both are less stressed.
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Reply to wuvsicecream

Wuvsicecream, I appreciate your response. So true with my mother as well. She is also better behaved towards the professional staff at her NH. She had issues when I tried to give her meds at her home, or tried to encourage her to use her walker or would offer to help her with incontinence issues. Now the staff can care for her physical needs, and I have the opportunity to take mom on outings, attend church with her at the NH, visit, go on walks, etc. Much less stress for all concerned. I'm so glad we made this decision. My mother would be lonely at her home; wouldn't be able to drive. At the NH she wheels about on her wheelchair throughout the facility, and talks to staff and other residents. If a family can find a good NH, and still be active in their families' lives, they can count their blessings!
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Reply to Hopeful2011

Thanks Carol. I do appreciate the thoughts and the support. You are right, I don't want to hear about moving Mom anywhere. She is such a joy in all of our family's lives that I would not even consider it at this point. She has had the dementia for over 7 years now and it has not gotten much worse than when it started. (due to low blood flow to her brain prior to a pace maker) She still crochets and plays pinocle (cards) with us and goes to bingo and bible study, etc. That's why I feel so bad.......she is wonderful and so easy going and fun to have's just the sleeping thing. I wish I knew how to even slow it down to a couple of times per night. I will keep trying! Thanks again for responding back to me. It means alot to know that there are people that care enough about us to help out and support!! Hugs and God Bless!!
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Reply to KJSpradlin

Perhaps one last thing to try!

Regular exposure to bright light at an early-morning hour may help shift the sleep-wake rhythm and exposure to bright light for 30 to 60 minutes in the evening may be beneficial in reinforcing the circadian rhythm.
In sunny climates, outdoor bright light exposure may work just as well.
Minimizing the amount of light in the bedroom also may help.
(Her doctor should review all drugs that your mom is taking to check whether any may induce photosensitivity and to determine whether there are any other disorders that may be exacerbated by light therapy)

Researchers at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience reviewed the benefits of melatonin and the effect of environmental light in elderly with dementia. In this study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, melatonin did help with sleep but increased withdrawn dementia-related behavior. The results improved when given in combination with a bright light environment.
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Reply to Aleeta

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