Sleep Quality and Its Influence on Chronic Kidney Disease

Individuals should have at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep to maintain optimal health and wellness. Sleep deprivation reduces immune response and increases susceptibility to infections, whereas adequate sleep is required for the immune system to function correctly. Additionally, insufficient sleep has been related to deficits in learning, attention, and mood stability. Sleep is also essential for cognitive function, memory consolidation, and emotional control.

Not obtaining enough sleep or having problems sleeping can increase the chance of developing Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). CKD, formerly known as Chronic Renal Failure (CRF), is a range of impaired kidney function that can progress from at-risk to mild, moderate, and severe stages. It poses a serious threat to world health. Furthermore, individuals suffering from advanced stages of CKD, particularly those requiring dialysis, often experience sleep difficulties due to factors like restless leg syndrome, pain, and medication side effects. This lack of quality sleep can significantly reduce their quality of life, leading to fatigue, decreased energy, and difficulty concentrating.

People affected with CKD frequently experience sleep abnormalities, ranging from sleep apnea to insomnia. The intricate interaction that results from the two-way relationship between kidney health and sleep exacerbates the course of the illness. Sleep disorders are associated with inflammation, hypertension, and metabolic dysregulation, all of which are harmful to kidney function. On the other hand, impaired kidney function causes toxins and metabolic waste products to build up, upsetting the architecture of sleep and creating a vicious cycle.

Recent studies by Medscape[1] show that elderly people are primarily affected by CKD; approximately half of CKD patients are above 70 years of age. Additionally, it is important to note that while kidney function declines gradually in younger people with CKD, about 30% of those 65 and older have consistent disease progression.

Kidney dysfunction[2] generates high blood pressure, which can lead to deadly cardiac illnesses such as angina pectoris, ischemic heart disease, myocardial infarction, and cerebrovascular diseases. Kidney illness can range in severity from primary to more advanced stages, where the patient requires dialysis or a kidney transplant to survive.

Potential Causes of Sleep Problems in CKD patients:

  1. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): This common condition causes an irresistible urge to move the legs, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  2. Sleep apnea: This sleep disorder involves pauses in breathing during sleep, leading to fragmented sleep and daytime sleepiness.
  3. Urinary frequency: The need to urinate frequently at night can disrupt sleep.
  4. Nausea and vomiting: These symptoms, common in CKD, can also interfere with sleep.
  5. Anxiety and depression: These mental health conditions are more prevalent in CKD patients and can significantly impact sleep quality.

Strategies to Improve Sleep:

  1. Prioritize good sleep hygiene: Establish regular sleep and wake times, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and ensure a comfortable sleep environment.
  2. Address underlying causes: If specific medical conditions like RLS or sleep apnea are contributing to sleep problems, appropriate treatment should be pursued.
  3. Manage CKD effectively: Controlling blood pressure, managing fluid intake, and following a healthy diet can improve sleep indirectly.
  4. Consider Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): This form of therapy can help change negative thoughts and behaviour that contribute to sleep disturbances.

Therefore, addressing sleep quality as part of a complete CKD management strategy may result in improved blood pressure control, stress reduction, inflammatory regulation, and overall patient well-being.

Attributed: Dr. Mallikarjuna HM, Nephrologist, NephroPlus

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