Everyone needs adequate sleep each night. Sleep allows the body to rest and recharge for the following day.
But for people with cerebral palsy, sleeping isn’t always easy, as we frequently struggle with spasticity and involuntarily movements. I have difficulty sleeping. Luckily, I’ve found ways to help me address this problem.
Cerebral palsy isn’t something we can turn on and off. At night, we experience spasms and movements in our muscles.
When I was 16, I started taking the medication, baclofen, which helped to calm my muscles enough so that I could sleep. Baclofen must be prescribed by a doctor and taken as recommended. Also, patients shouldn’t stop taking it abruptly without tapering the dosage or they might have seizures.
Before I took baclofen, I would tear the bed apart each night. Although that medication helped, I still have difficulty sleeping. So I try to exercise daily to tire and relax my muscles. I can do several arm lifts, use an arm cycle, and work with hand weights. I also lie on my back and do leg lifts and kick my legs as if I’m pedaling a bicycle. All of these activities are a great way to get a workout.
Setting an exercise goal each day also helps if you do your best to stick to the plan.
For my birthday, a friend bought me a weighted blanket to use in bed. Weighted blankets have beads, usually made of glass or plastic, sewn into them. The idea is that when you lie down, the weight of the blanket will comfort and calm you.
Many people, even those who don’t have cerebral palsy, use weighted blankets because they work so well. I use mine each night, and I fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep.
If you buy a weighted blanket, do some research. Not all blankets have the same weight or quality. Avoid ones that are too heavy because they can be uncomfortable. For example, my blanket, which weighs 20 pounds, might be a little too heavy. I have trouble pulling it on top of me and need to ask my husband for help. A slightly lighter blanket would probably work perfectly.
Spasms that wake me up are pretty annoying. I try to remember that they’re part of life and will pass. Depending on the time that the spasms occur, I might take a muscle-relaxing medication. Timing is very important because if I’m getting up in five hours anyway, taking medication to help me sleep probably isn’t the wisest idea.
If I don’t take medication because I need to wake up early, I try to change my position. Or I sit up and read a book on my Kindle. A distraction usually helps my muscles to relax so that I can fall asleep.
If you have sleeping issues associated with cerebral palsy, know that you aren’t alone. Try several things to see if they help. Remember to avoid drinking a lot before bed so that bathroom breaks won’t wake you. And always consult your physician before taking medication or trying new exercises.
What are some of your tips to fall asleep faster? Please share in the comments below.
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.