After a stroke, you may experience changes related to sleep. Lack of sleep has a negative effect on our thinking, mood, energy levels and appetite. These effects are multiplied many times by a brain injury such as stroke.

Although some people may have problems with getting too much sleep, the usual problem is having trouble sleeping at night, then feeling drowsy during the day.

The average person needs eight hours of sleep a night. Some people can cope very well with less sleep and some need much more. A lack of sleep can cause decreased concentration, energy and many other problems. Fatigue is a major challenge for many stroke survivors, and this may affect the amount of sleep you require. Sleep-related breathing disorders can also develop after a stroke.

Getting a decent night’s sleep is an important part of stroke recovery. When these sleep problems go on for a long time, they are considered sleep disorders. Having a sleep disorder can affect your health and quality of life and increase your risk of having another stroke.

There are things you can do. ‘Sleep hygiene’ are the habits that help you have a good night’s sleep. They include:

  • Work with your body clock, not against it – get up at the same time every day, get enough early morning sunshine and go to bed when your body tells you it’s ready.
  • Create a more restful sleep environment – make sure your bed and bedroom is comfortable, dark and quiet (use earplugs if necessary). Use your bedroom only for sleeping and intimacy. If you treat your bed like a second lounge room, your mind will associate your bedroom with activity.
  • Avoid caffeine, cigarettes, drugs and alcohol – sleeping pills in particular should only be used as a temporary last resort and under strict medical advice.
  • Relax your ‘monkey mind’ – consciously do your worrying earlier in the day so you can ‘knock off’ at bedtime. Create a relaxing routine and try relaxation exercises.

If you are still having difficulties sleeping, talk to your doctor or health professional.

You may have trouble with sleep.

Some people sleep too much.

But most people can’t sleep at night.

They then feel drowsy during the day.

Not getting enough sleep can make it even harder to get better.

Getting enough sleep

Most people need 8 hours of sleep every night.

Having a stroke can make is hard to get enough sleep.

Trouble sleeping can make you sick.

It can also make it more likely you will have another stroke.

What you can do

Work with your body clock, not against it.

Get up at the same time every day.

Get sunshine early in the morning.

Go to bed at night when you are sleepy.

Make sure your bedroom is comfortable, dark and quiet.

Don’t use caffeine, tobacco, drugs and/or alcohol.

Only use sleeping pills temporarily, and only after talking to your doctor.

Create a relaxing bedtime routine.

Try relaxation exercises.

If you are still having difficulties sleeping, talk to your doctor or health professional.

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