A patient receiving hospice care will sometimes find their previous nightly rituals and patterns of sleep disrupted. There are quite a few reasons why this happens ranging anywhere from medication side-effects to psychological conditions. For instance, studies have shown that people with cancer could be affected by anxiety or depression, which in turn may hinder their ability to sleep at night. Sleep is important for one’s overall emotional and physical wellbeing, especially for patients receiving hospice care. Reducing restlessness at night is key to increasing your loved one’s comfort during their stay.
What Causes Sleeplessness in Hospice Patients?
A person receiving hospice care may develop patterns of wakefulness in the evening for a number of different reasons. Some examples include medication, difficulty breathing, bladder or bowel problems, and neurological disorders. The problem may be more simple than that like sleeping in a room that lets in too much light, is too hot or too cold, or is near a noisy area. If your loved one is suffering by insomnia, then discuss it with their caretaker to explore the possible solutions.
Create an Environment that Promotes Sleep
As a relative or caregiver, you’re in a great position to work with your loved one the necessary changes that will help them sleep. They may prefer to sleep in a recliner or comfortable chair rather than a bed, for instance. Adjust the lighting and temperature to their liking, and consider using a sound maker or play soft music if it helps them relax. Bedding is also a key element. If your loved one is feeling significant pain, it might be appropriate to purchase a new mattress that provides the proper support to sensitive pressure points. Firm new pillows can aid in the reduction of neck pain.
Implement Relaxation Exercises
If your loved one is kept up at night due to stress, try guiding them through a muscle relaxation exercise or a controlled breathing exercise. These practices have been found to significantly reduce the cortisol levels in the body that are responsible for stress. Progressive muscle relaxation involves simply tensing then relaxing all the muscles for a few seconds – start with the toes and work your way up towards the face. If you aren’t sure of how to lead your loved one through these techniques, it’s fairly easy to find an app to download or online video to watch that can help you through the process.
Encourage a Consistent Routine Before Bed
Try to settle your loved one down for sleep at the same time every day if at all possible. If they enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon, check to make sure it is decaffeinated. Schedule visitors to stop by in the daytime, so is as relaxed as possible. See if your loved one would enjoy a warm nightly bath or anything that gets their body ready for sleep. Keep electronic devices outside of the room that is used for sleep, since these are known to cause excessive mental alertness.
Persons receiving hospice care often have sleep problems. It is not an uncommon problem. Your loved one is not alone, and with a little discipline, they may be able to find that sleep they’ve been needing. When necessary, always check in with your family doctor for severe sleeping issues.