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.
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