Monday, September 12, 2011

What I Wouldn't Give for a Good Night's Sleep...

Chamomile tea, a nice warm bath, counting sheep - when it comes to sleep, you name it, I've tried it. But insomnia still dogs me, as it has since I was diagnosed with end-stage liver disease and told that I needed a transplant. While everyone else slumbers, I'm awake and watching TV, tired but unable to sleep. Often, it isn't until 5 or 6 a.m. that I doze off, not restfully, feeling uncomfortable about all the things I'm missing as I sleep the day away... and then the cycle repeats itself.

I've come to learn that I'm not alone. A PubMed article, "Role of Sleep Disturbance in Chronic Hepatitis C Infection," posted on the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine website, reveals the following:
Chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus (CHC) is associated with physical and mental symptoms including fatigue and depression that adversely affect quality of life. A related complaint, sleep disturbance, has received little attention in the literature, with the exception of sleep changes noted in cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease. We present an overview of studies indicating sleep problems in patients with CHC, with about 60% to 65% of individuals reporting such complaints. Evidence suggests that impairments in sleep quality exist independent of antiviral therapy with interferon-α and prior to advanced stages of liver disease. Further investigation of sleep disturbance in CHC patients with a mild stage of liver disease may provide important information on disease course as well as allow additional opportunities for patient support.
Unfortunately, there is no "cure" for insomnia; experts stress the importance of working with your doctor to find a solution. A Guide to Hepatitis C, Treatment Side Effect Management, is a fact sheet on the HCV Advocate website that offers basic suggestions to address insomnia, including the following:
Make eight hours of sleep a regular habit. Sleeping less during the week and trying to catch up on the weekend doesn’t work

• Try to go to bed at the same time every night

• If you have a clock that is always lit, turn it so you can’t see the time

• Exercise every day

• If you nap, keep it short and early in the day

• Try reading before bedtime, but use a low-watt bulb

• Do not eat during the few hours before bedtime, but don’t go to bed hungry. If you eat something, choose food that is light and nutritious. Avoid spicy or greasy foods

• Take a hot bath before retiring

• If you feel you need to worry, tell yourself that you will only worry in the daytime. Make your bedroom a fret-free zone. Learn relaxation techniques to reduce stress and worrying

• Listen to relaxation tapes before retiring

• Do not lay awake in bed for more than 20 to 30 minutes. Get up, do something boring for a little while, and then go back to bed

• Your bed is for sleep and sex. If you are not doing either of these, stay out of bed
Hopefully, some of these tips will help. Here's wishing Sweet Dreams for us all.

Photo by Philippe Ramakers

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