Who doesn’t enjoy a good night’s sleep? We all long to fall into bed after a long, busy day. When you have cerebral palsy, it can be challenging to fall and stay asleep. Over the years, I have tried various methods to achieve uninterrupted sleep. I want to share some of my suggestions to help you sleep better and longer.
When I was a young child and during my teenage years, I experienced frequent uncontrolled movements. My body wasn’t still long enough to allow me to sleep easily. When I was 16, I visited a cerebral palsy specialist who prescribed baclofen to help my muscles relax and improve my sleep. I still take that medication every night.
The doctors wanted me to take baclofen during the day, too, but it made me too tired. I sometimes take it if I’m having an unusually bad muscle day, but mostly I limit it to nighttime. Before I took baclofen, my movements would pull the sheets off my bed and I would come close to falling out of bed. And when I awoke, I was still exhausted.
Exercise has many benefits including improving quality of sleep. I find that the more I exercise, the more I relax and the better I sleep. I aim to spend five to 10 minutes being active about three times each day.
Reducing caffeine also has helped me with my sleep. My spasms increase if I consume drinks with a lot of caffeine. My body responds much better to water, milk, and juice, so I limit my caffeine intake after early afternoon.
Speaking of drinking, nothing is worse than getting comfortable in bed and then realizing you need to use the bathroom. When you have cerebral palsy, you can’t run to the toilet. I’ve learned to heed the first signs I need to go. If I wait, it takes longer to get there. If you’re with someone who needs help during the night, please be patient. No one likes to wake up another person in the middle of the night, but as human beings, we have the same basic needs.
People who have cerebral palsy often have trouble breathing while lying down. Finding the right position can be a challenge because of stiff muscles and spasms. I often lie on my left arm because the pressure helps my arm to relax. Remember to use pillows to elevate your head.
I also take melatonin to help me fall and stay asleep. I use it with baclofen, and as a result, I sleep longer and wake up feeling more rested.
Good luck and happy sleeping!
Note: Cerebral Palsy News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disorder. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cerebral Palsy News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cerebral palsy.