With the beginning of spring, warm weather, and the hint of summer right around the corner, this time of year can be a bright spot after the dreary cold of winter. However, with warmer weather can come seasonal issues with your patients’ care, especially when their bladder control problems can cause issues with their sleep quality as well.
More and more studies have shown how important sleep is to your health, longevity, and your ability to function during the day. For patients who require active care, the effects of bad sleep patterns can be lasting: depression, confusion, delirium, delayed healing, and decreased ability to perform normal tasks are just a few by-products of bad sleep.
In elderly patients, the effects can be even worse. Bad sleep or interrupted sleep coupled with bladder control problems also leads to decreased skin health, poor cognitive abilities, and higher risk of falling while walking to the bathroom due to darkness or problems with their gait and balance.
Warmer weather can aggravate sleep issues in addition to pre-existing overnight bladder control problems. Trying to sleep in too warm of a room can cause sleeplessness, allergies that can make trying to rest fruitless, and evenings with later sunsets can throw off your circadian rhythm.
In spite of so many interruptions that both bladder control problems and warmer weather can cause to the amount and quality of your patient’s sleep, there are several things that can be done to help minimize the effects and maintain good sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene is the term that refers to the habits and practices that lead to an individual sleeping well regularly. By administering certain habits and altering procedure in your patients’ nighttime routine, you can dramatically help their sleep hygiene and, by extension, help their moods, mental focus, physicality, and safety.
1. Temperature – Keep It Cool
Properly controlling the temperature of the room can dramatically help your patients’ quality of sleep. Keeping the temperature of the room between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit has been shown to be the optimal range to help maintain restful sleep according to a study done in 2015 on inpatient residents with bladder control issues. The temperature should be adjusted according to the patients’ preferences, as too cold of a bedroom can also keep them awake or promote sleeplessness.
2. Minimize Noise and Light
This one may seem intuitive, but what is meant by minimize is really “eliminate as much as possible.” Gently closing and opening doors or drawers and generally eliminating even moderate noise is advisable. Blackout curtains will help block light from windows and removing or covering electronics will help reduce pinpoint light. It may seem as though a small blinking light on your smartphone or from an alarm clock wouldn’t cause too much disruption, but even light the size of pinprick can affect circadian rhythms.
3. Use Better Bladder Control Products
In the same study done in 2015 on inpatients with bladder control issues, a common complaint and cause of sleep problems were the bladder control products themselves. More often than not, the products were not very good at controlling leakage, and often kept the residents wet, leading to skin issues and feelings of being “institutionalized.” Because these products were provided by family members, they were often the wrong size and subsequently could not be adhered or placed properly in order to help contain or control leakage. Furthermore, it was necessary for caregivers to wake patients every two hours in order to check for bladder control occurrences.
Within the study, they were given more absorbent, better fitting, and better leakage containing products made by Attends, a Domtar Personal Care product. Attends’ high-quality, multi-void products were able to help promote better sleep hygiene in the patients. The products were better fitting, which led to better coverage, fewer accidents, and better skin health. More absorbent than the other brands brought in, Attends products allowed caregivers to modify their nighttime schedule so as not to wake the patients continuously throughout the night.
Finding and using the right products for your patients’ bladder control problems will significantly help their overnight leakage issues, promoting more restful sleep.
4. Minimize Fluid and Caffeine Intake
A common problem that can plague those whose bladder control problems are accidental leakage or the need to urinate during the night is an inconsistent sleeping pattern, either from needing to remove the soiled products or sheets, or to head to the bathroom. In spite of the warmer weather, minimizing fluid intake toward bedtime will help keep leakages from occurring and keep the need to head to the bathroom several times a night at bay. Additionally, limiting caffeine intake after noon can also help limit leakages and sleeplessness. Even coffee or tea consumed long before bedtime can have lasting effects on sleepiness, and caffeine is also a diuretic, and consuming it makes it more likely that your patient will need to urinate.
5. Contain Any Allergies
With spring comes seasonal allergies, which can make nighttime sleep very hard to maintain with all the sniffling, sneezing, and general congestion. Adding allergy medication as a part of your patients’ nightly routine will ensure that the strongest part of their dose will be in their system during the night, helping to keep their congestion at a minimum.
Which Methods Will Work for Your Patients?
No two patients are the same or have the same needs when it comes to their care, but these procedures are a good basis for how you approach adjusting your patients’ sleep hygiene. Adding one process at a time to your patients’ routine can help make it a gentler transition if you’re worried that too much change at once could be upsetting or will worsen their sleep. It’s important to note that in the 2015 study, the routine that the patients had prior to the study was the same across the board if they suffered from incontinence issues, regardless of the severity. During the study period, nighttime care was individualized to each patient and their bladder control problems. This individualized care meant that patients had longer, more restful sleep each night in spite of their bladder control issues. While there are overarching methods and tips that can help sleeping in warmer weather with bladder problems, the best results are found in cases where care is customized to each patient. Ensuring that your patients have nighttime bladder control care specific to their needs will ultimately lead to healthy, restful sleep.