Quality sleep for Dialysis patients

Dr. Surinder Sodhi
A regular haemodialysis patient told once that, “I cannot sleep at dialysis centre. I sleep with earplugs, but they do not block out the noise well enough.
The treatment leaves me more exhausted every day and it is seriously interfering with my ability to participate in activities and otherwise, enjoy life. What can I do?”
Let’s be honest : it is very difficult to get any rest at all at a Dialysis Centre. Whether it is the constant ringing of Dialysis alarms, sounds of washing of hands, loud conversation across the clinic floor, patients calling for assistance, moving of medical carts, and the other litany of disruptions and loud noises, the sounds at Dialysis Clinics have the potential to affect patient’s rest and even health.
It’s easy to overlook the significance of patients being able to sleep while at Dialysis. However, due to the fact that many patients cannot get quality rest at home the day before having to go into their treatments due to anxiety, itching, frustration, and more – Dialysis offers a perfect opportunity to catch up on much-needed slumber.
If patients do not get enough sleep then this can contribute to health complications including: extending recovery times, grogginess after treatments, worsening or causing Type II Diabetes, weight gain, severe weakness, stress, and Heart Disease ( the leading cause of death among Dialysis patients).
Tips that help
Block the sounds around you: Carry disposable foam earplugs instead of silicone earbuds. It has been found that foam plugs are more effective than their alternatives because foam earplugs are made from a type of memory foam that is inserted into the ear canal. Foam earplugs compress as they are pressed into the ear and expand slightly when released to plug the ear canal in order to cancel noise more effectively. Pop them in, and you’ll at least muffle or completely eliminate the noise around you so you can fall asleep.
Play something distracting: If you have the option to plug in a television headset or have music on your phone/iPod, then listen to the television, radio, or music to help drown out and block outside sounds. This should help patients get some rest, but is not the ideal option since research suggests that the noises from your TV channels, radio station, and music can still disrupt natural sleep patterns. For best results, use earplugs while sleeping.
Relax your mind and body: Try to empty your mind of thoughts and focus on the rhythm of your breathing. One technique that can help de-stress you fast and set the stage for sleep is known as the “4-7-8” breathing exercise. First, exhale fully through your mouth, making a whooshing sound, and then close your eyes and inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four. Finally, hold your breath for a count of seven, and then exhale completely through your mouth, making that whooshing sound again, for a count of eight. Repeat the sequence three more times. Close your eyes and try to drift to sleep.
Put your senses on your side: Try doing progressive muscle relaxation exercises-in which you systematically tense and then relax the muscles in your body from head to toe (or vice versa)-to downshift your body and mind into a relaxed state. Also, use visualization techniques, where you recruit all your senses to imagine a tranquil scene, such as a pristine beach or mountainside lake. Close your eyes and imagine that you are there. What does it look like? What sounds do you hear there at the beach or along the mountainside? Start setting the scene and drifting to sleep.
(The author is a faculty, Deptt. Of Nephrology SSH Jammu)