People who struggle with chronic kidney disease often find themselves skipping sleep, both voluntarily and involuntarily. Their struggles leave them facing numerous sleep disorders, which can hamper their ability to get solid sleep each night. The effects that kidney disease can have on sleep are well documented in many cases. Many sleep disorders coincide with multiple stages of kidney disease, from initial diagnosis, through progression and end-stages of the ailment. Here are some things you should know if you care for someone with chronic kidney disease.
Your body needs your kidneys in order to stay alive. They filter out everything that goes through your body, plus they help to keep your blood clean. When your kidneys do not function properly, toxins build up in your body. This can make you very sick, plus it can make it to where you develop other disorders. One of the first types of disorders that commonly follows a diagnosis of kidney disease is sleep disorders. This can lead to periods where you start skipping sleep because you simply cannot sleep when you try.
Every part of your body struggles when your kidneys begin to fail. The kidneys are not able to pull the right things out of the blood, which then get deposited elsewhere in the body. This can cause your body to struggle from both the effects of the deposits, and the effects of not having the right nutrients pulled out of the blood. One example of this is an increase in restless leg syndrome from the body not having enough iron to function properly. The more sleep you get, the slower these effects are to impact your quality of life.
Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders that lead those with chronic kidney disease to begin skipping sleep. They go to lie down, and no matter how hard they try, they cannot sleep. Sometimes it is due to pain or discomfort, while other times it is due to the body not responding the way it should. Any disease that affects your kidneys affects the rest of your body, too. Since they are the body’s filter, your body has to struggle to compensate in other ways when the kidneys do not work properly. This can make it difficult to sleep.
Another common sleep disorder that can lead to missed sleep is obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. OSA makes it difficult to breathe, since whenever you go to sleep, a part of your body obstructs the airway. That is where the name comes from. Research has found a strong correlation between people who struggle with kidney problems and those who struggle with OSA. If you have one, you may want to get checked to see if you have the other.
You may also struggle with sleeping at the right times when you have chronic kidney disease. One of the effects of skipping sleep that you may not be aware of is the mixing up of your circadian rhythms. This means that your body starts skipping sleep at night, opting to do it during the day. It forgets when the right time to sleep actually is. Your body is then constantly trying to play catch up when this happens, which can make your ailments worse.
When you begin skipping sleep, your body tries to overcompensate through other means. This can include trying to react more quickly when something seems awry in your body. While a quick response is often a good thing, it can lead to issues when you also struggle with chronic kidney disease. When your kidneys do not function properly, you can wind up with too much carbon dioxide in your body. This is something that both your lungs and your kidneys will try and overcompensate for when you have been skipping sleep. This can leave you facing what is called hypoventilation, which is when your body takes out the low levels of carbon dioxide it is used to functioning with. This is difficult for your body to recover from. Plus, it can cause your oxygen levels to bounce around instead of staying steady.
If you have been skipping sleep at night, it could also result in you needing more sleep during the daytime to function. This is known as hypersomnia. Your inability to breathe properly can leave you facing daily exhaustion. This can impair how you function during the day during all of your activities, including focusing, driving, and working. Skipping sleep can lead you to act similarly to someone who is drunk, becoming a danger to yourself and those around you.
When skipping sleep impacts your daily life, it is time to get some help. What you should do is seek out someone who has the experience and training to help. Here at Mark Levy, DDS, we can help you manage the symptoms of OSA. This can make it easier for you to sleep, which can make managing your chronic kidney disease easier.
What we do when you come in is test you for the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. If you do have it, in any form, we can help you. What we use is an oral appliance. It is customized to your mouth, and is wearable whenever you sleep. It helps to pull your bottom jaw forward a bit when you sleep. That way, instead of skipping sleep from this sleep disorder, you can go back to sleeping soundly at night.
You do not need to live a life where skipping sleep is your normal. There are things that you can do to help your body as it struggles with chronic kidney disease. Sleep disorders may disrupt your ability to manage your ailment. However, when you manage those disorders, they often help you manage your kidney issues to some extent as well.