We all know that sleep is important, yet many of us never seem to get enough of it. The journal Sleep Review recently found that 67% of end-stage renal disease patients said they were impacted by sleep disorders that prevented them from getting enough sleep. These sleep disorders include periodic leg movement syndrome (PLMS), restless legs syndrome (RLS), insomnia and sleep apnea. Researchers from Monash University reported in the journal Renal Failure that lack of sleep, especially when coupled with chronic kidney disease, leads to hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, lower quality of life and shorter life expectancy. This leaves many kidney patients wondering how they can get more high-quality sleep. Fortunately, there are several actions you can take to become more rested.

You may want to set a goal for number of hours to sleep each night. Keep in mind that people under 64 are recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, while people over 64 are recommended to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. After setting a goal, think about whether you have any trouble sleeping as a direct result of dialysis. Monitoring your Kt/V clearances will help ensure you receive adequate dialysis treatments, which in turn will help you sleep better.

Some peritoneal dialysis patients also report trouble sleeping as a result of the sound from their cyclers, and other dialysis patients report difficulty sleeping after experiencing depression or anxiety for over two weeks. If you experience either of these issues, be sure to let your healthcare team know.

There are two other issues you should make sure to discuss with your healthcare team The first is whether you have an iron deficiency that causes sleep disturbances as a result of RLS.  If you do, your nephrologist may prescribe you an iron or RLS medication. The second is the amount of caffeine in your diet.  It is often easier for patients to reduce their caffeine intake when they keep an accurate diary of the foods and drinks they consume, and discuss the diary with their renal dietitians.

Hopefully, these tips give you some ideas for what you can to do to get more high-quality sleep, but they are just a starting point. For more ideas, be sure to talk with your healthcare team.