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Tips for Better Sleep

Getting enough sleep helps us stay healthy. Having trouble sleeping is very common for people on dialysis. Going through personal or professional challenges can cause insomnia or trouble sleeping as well.

If you receive hemodialysis treatments in a dialysis center, you may want to talk to your care team about using cooler dialysate. In one study, using cooler dialysate (35°C instead of 37°) helped in-center hemodialysis patients sleep longer and better the night after a treatment.1

Here are some general tips for a good night’s rest:  

  • Get outside during the day. Physical activity and fresh air can help you fall asleep more easily.
  • Have a laugh! Share a joke with a friend or watch a funny movie. Laughter can help reduce stress and prepare your mind for a peaceful night’s rest.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, including weekends.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, relaxing and at a comfortable temperature.
  • Avoid looking at electronic devices, such as TVs, computers and smart phones, for 30 minutes before bed.
  • Take a hot shower or bath to help your muscles relax.
  • Try aromatherapy. A lavender-scented pillow spray or essential oil diffuser can help create a more peaceful sleep environment.
  • Avoid leaving the TV on in the background to help you fall asleep.   

Sometimes we wake up in the night and find it hard to go back to sleep. Try this breathing exercise: 

  • Breathe normally. When you exhale, count to 1.
  • When you breathe again and exhale, count to 2. Keep going until you get to 10 breaths.
  • Start over again. When you start thinking, simply go back to counting—it’s easier than counting sheep!

If you are still unable to fall back to sleep after 20 minutes, try the following:

  • Go into another room for a while.
  • Read a book to settle your mind and prepare to fall back to sleep.
  • Avoid watching TV or looking at your phone or computer, which can be too stimulating.

During challenging times, we are here to help. If you are a DaVita dialysis patient, please reach out to your social worker for more tips and additional support. You can find more information about coping with COVID-19 here.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a medical provider.

Please check with a medical professional if you need a diagnosis and/or for treatments as well as information regarding your specific condition. In case of emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department.

1Parker KP, Bailey JL, Rye DB, Bliwise DL, Van Someren EJ. Insomnia on dialysis nights: the beneficial effects of cool dialysate. J Nephrol. 2008 Mar-Apr;21 Suppl 13:S71-7.