Sunday, December 4, 2011

What is it about Nighttime Sleep?

This has been in draft mode for a while, but I feel it's worth publishing now, enjoy:

Night time has become an issue for my family, for all of my family - me, my children and most poignantly, my dad.

My parents were almost nazis about sleep.  Growing up, it was 9pm in bed on a school night, 10pm on a weekend night.  Bed by 9pm up by 5am.  That was the schedule my parents kept for as long as I can remember and that was the schedule they tried to enforce on me as well.

It didn't stick though.  Maybe in an act of rebellion or just a realization of how the world currently works, midnight or sometimes even later is my new bedtime.  Some nights I fight the urge to go to bed as long as I can for reasons I can't really fathom.

Now as a parent, my children's bed time is my least favorite part of the day.  My kids don't want to go sleep, they fight the inevitable almost every night, trying to find ways to extend their awake time as long as possible - I need a drink of water..  I want to read just one more chapter of this book...  I want to practice my instrument.

It seems like they get this burst of energy to do the things most parents would love to hear from their kids - it's the right activity at the wrong time.  It's frustrating as a parent for two reasons.  Sleep is really important, especially for kids, and it's my job to make sure they get enough of it.  Second, of course, the quicker they get the sleep the quicker I get some much needed alone time with my wife.

But night time has gotten even more challenging lately.  Last night I was called by my dad's caregiver at around 11pm to come over to where they are currently staying to help him take a drug he was refusing.  I ended up staying there a couple of hours to help manage him and to get first hand awareness of what's been happening to him at night.

He's been exhibiting sundowners syndrome.   Early this past summer he had a stroke and he's not been the same physically or mentally since and he's been gradually degrading.  Of course, it is worse at night.  For him, it means he doesn't sleep.  He'll lay in bed for a while, then want to get up and eat breakfast or go back to his condo or go to the bathroom.  Through it all, he won't be reasoned with.   As I said, he's generally confused, this exacerbates at night.  The next day, he will not remember any of it.

My mom is staying with him and he's keeping her awake right along with him.  One night she stayed with us to kind of see how that would work.  In short, it didn't.  My dad was much, much worse thinking she left him for another man and a bunch of other paranoia.

What's sad is that he's not getting sleep, sleep he really, really needs.  He's also robbing sleep from all those around him.

So, what is it about night time?  Why can't we embrace sleep, when it's so good for us, essential for our health?  Our days go better when our night time goes well.

Sometimes it's just better to call it a night and go to bed.

1 comment:

H said...

OK, OK, I get the hint. I'll go to sleep :)