Life Sparkles

Sundowning, Sleep and Me.

Sundowning was something I had never heard of until about two years ago. Out of the blue Mom would get confused, agitated, nervous and not know if it was morning or evening. If we did get to bed there may be “room roaming”, Mom would be on patrol within her room, back and forth to the window wondering why it was dark during the day. Some nights we wouldn’t make it up to bed at all. Other nights we’d get to bed and sleep only to find ourselves back downstairs a few hours later. This is what has happened tonight. Last night Mom and I didn’t get to bed at all.

Since the Doctor said Mom’s topsy turvy nights were due to Sundowning I’ve read quite a lot about it. We don’t fit any of the profiles given (typical) however some of the remedies do work for us. Keeping to routines, staying calm and reassuring, making hot sweet tea and favourite biscuits as sometimes Sundowning can come on due to low blood sugar.

It is always worse when the clocks change. When our clocks recently changed due to the end of British Summer Time I was expecting a couple of weeks sleep disruption. We had four weeks where we went to bed every other night. We then had a run of six nights in a row of uninterrupted sleep which believe me was heaven. For the past two weeks we’ve had one Sundown night each week until this week; last night and tonight. Mom was expecting visitors. I tried to explain it was 2:30 am but Mom thought it was afternoon and of course in the depth of Winter we can have some very dark days where night time starts to descend mid to late afternoon; a typical Sundowning trait of switching night to day.

My night out last Sunday did not help things. Routine was upset, I was out and came home late, 1:15 am. Mom was happily enjoying her time with the Carer and Dad. I got into bed at 3 am and Mom got up at 6 am…last Monday was a very long tired out day.

A slight twist to the Sundown is that some nights Mom just doesn’t want to go to bed even though she is tired. This isn’t Sundowning. I’ve researched this too! It seems that elderly people can get so comfortable, cosy, warm and relaxed in their chair they don’t see the point in moving to bed, so they don’t, they sleep quite comfortably where they are. This is fine for them but hard on their carer who doesn’t get a proper night of sleep. There is no change of mood when this happens, no anxiety or confusion. My fairy of a Mom just wants to stay put where she is.

My main issue with being up at night on a regular basis is not only am I lacking in vital sleep but I need to keep going during the day to take care of Dad when he gets up and to do the cooking etc. I did very little yesterday and I’m thinking today is going to be written off chores wise. That’s how it goes, we just have to go with the flow. Keeping Mom happy, relaxed and safe is our priority.

We have had our 3 am tea and biscuits, Mom has fallen asleep in her chair, Dad is asleep upstairs and I’ll attempt a few hours sleep now. The wind and rain are pelting against the window, it’s comforting, soothing and I hope will help me drift off to sleep.

Pictures via Pinterest

©️ @aurorasparkles 2017

Life Sparkles

Love your bed!!

Why am I saying this? Because I haven’t managed to stay in bed all night for four nights out of six and at the moment, I’m not sure about tonight.

Mom is having a very unsettled week when it comes to bedtime. On average we experience one night in twentyone where I am up all night with Mom. It’s all part of the “Sundowning” which Mom goes through. Sundowning is a condition where the body clock goes out of kilter; for want of a better explanation. It is especially prominent in the Winter when it gets dark around 3 pm and doesn’t brighten up again until after 8:30 am. The start and end to British Summer Time, when the clocks go backwards and forwards are particularly challenging weeks where Mom can suffer with Sundown perhaps eight out of twelve days. It is particularly tiring for me as I am up with her; chatting, making tea, trying to remove the confusion or alleviate whatever it is that is causing her fear.  It was particularly hard to deal with when I had the day job; being up most of the night and then having to log in to work was stressful and at least now, if we’re up all night, it doesn’t affect anything other than my mood, energy levels and plans for the day which can always be changed.

Via Pinterest.

I no longer, and haven’t for a long time, taken for granted the simple act of getting into bed, going to sleep and staying in bed until morning.  Something I gave no thought to before, I just did it, has almost become the goal of the day. 

I don’t know why Mom is unsettled this week; we’ve had one all nighter, one get up and return to bed four times night (that’s unusual), one get up and stay up five minutes after going to bed in the first place and one “I’m not going to bed” night. Add to a couple of these confusion about not being in her own bed or home and it can be so hard to deal with…especially when you’re tired.

Tonight I inflated the blow up mattress my b/f uses when he comes to stay, (I’ve no idea how he manages to pack it away so small and tidy afterwards, that’s a task for the morning) however, no sooner had I got settled on the mattress as I just couldn’t face another night on the sofa and neither could my back, Mom decides to go to bed! Hallelujah!

Dad bless him does his best, he offers to stay up all night but I have to be strong, he has to lie in bed all night and get sleep, no argument.  The lack of sleep tiredness is so awful; makes me impatient, grumpy and absolutely no energy. I thought I was going to cry tonight when there was no sign of bed and my beautiful fairy of a Mom just wouldn’t have understood why.

Whether we stay up here or end up back downstairs is still open at the moment. Between us, I’m praying for a night of sleep in my bed.  I hope you are all sleeping well, love your bed!!

Via Pinterest