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In the wee hours of the morning, when I can't sleep or am awakened by my husband, I feel a depth of despair that frightens and upsets me. It's always better in the morning. Anyone heard of caregiver sundowning? Any tips on managing those awful moments?


Thank you!

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It isn't caregiver sundowning. It is the caregiver realizing the hopelessness of the situation and it will only become more difficult. It is depressing looking at a life sentence of caring for someone that will not improve.

Have you started to look into other options that will allow you to get your life back?
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You sent me scuttling upstairs to retrieve a book from my bedside table - I read this just the other night, it's from 'Complainers', a short story by Jeffrey Eugenides...

"A friend of Cathy's in Detroit, a woman who has seen a therapist regularly for the past thirty years, recently passed on advice the therapist had given her. Pay no attention to the terrors that visit you in the night. The psyche is at its lowest ebb then, unable to defend itself. The desolation that envelops you feels like truth, but isn't. It's just mental fatigue masquerading as insight.

"Cathy reminds herself of this as she lies sleepless on the slab of mattress. Her impotence in helping Della has filled her mind with nihilistic thoughts. Cold, clear recognitions, lacerating in their strictness. She has never known who Clark is. Theirs is a marriage devoid of intimacy. If Mike, John, Chris, and Palmer weren't her children, they would be people of whom she disapproves. She has spent her life catering to people who disappear, like the bookstore she used to work in.

"Sleep finally comes. When Cathy wakes the next morning, feeling stiff, she is relieved to see that the therapist was right. The sun is up and the universe isn't so bleak..."

I'm not sure I'd necessarily recommend the strategy that follows, mind! - but I don't want to spoil the story :)

I think recognising the reality of how you feel, and understanding why, is the best way to get patiently through it.

Unless... you do like learning poetry? Having favourite lines to recite in your head might be soothing.
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Although anxiety is part of sundowning, I don’t think one can sundown if one does not have dementia, but I’m not a psychiatrist.

I have awful episodes of anxiety. I’ll finally sit up in bed in the middle of the night and play on my iPad for an hour or more. I tried Ambien and Xanax but neither worked for long. I’ve found that distracting myself by playing in the iPad helps. Most often I’ll lay back down and doze off for an hour or so.
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Riverdale Oct 22, 2018
I have these too. It is not helped when my husband becomes hostile especially about my mother. I have read many of your answers and admire your strength. I recently read about gray rock and am going to try to apply this in regards to him. I am trying to find a support group but don't know if one exists near me and traveling far will just give me more anxiety.
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My grandma used to have same problem. Singing quietly funny songs was good for her, as she told.
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I would suggest the early morning wakefulness you're experiencing isn't "sundowning" but something more like depression. Rather than laying in bed, caught in a loop of despairing thoughts, you might try "pushing the reset button" by getting up and reading something, watching television, or yes, even web-surfing (which I know breaks the rules), nothing too stimulating, just long enough (an hour at most) to replace anxious thoughts with relaxation and boredom. If you get hungry, a light snack is OK (no caffeine), then go back to bed and hopefully to sleep. Works for me.
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