How to Fall Asleep if You Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Опубликовал Admin
23-01-2021, 16:50
Falling asleep can be particularly difficult if you are blind or visually impaired. If you or someone you know is visually impaired or blind and having trouble falling asleep, you should make an appointment to see the doctor. A medical professional can diagnose underlying conditions that might be affecting the blind or visually impaired person’s ability to fall asleep. After ruling out medical causes, you can make behavioral changes that will help you fall asleep more easily.

Exploring Medical Options to Address Sleep Issues

  1. Talk to your doctor. If you are a blind or visually impaired person who is having trouble falling asleep, you should set up an appointment with your doctor. Ask your doctor to examine you for Non-24, a sleep disorder that frequently affects visually impaired and blind people.
    • Non-24 is a disorder that affects your sleep-wake cycles and is common in blind people.
    • People with Non-24 have trouble falling and staying asleep at night, as well as extreme urges to nap during the day.
    • Direct medical interventions for Non-24 include phototherapy and the medication tasimelteon, which is also called Hetlioz.
  2. Try taking melatonin. Many visually impaired and blind people have disrupted sleep-wake cycles due to their inability to sense light. Taking a melatonin supplement daily is a promising therapeutic strategy for many patients. Talk to your doctor about using melatonin to help regulate your sleep-wake cycles and help you fall asleep.
  3. Address underlying anxiety or depression. Experiencing anxiety at night can make it difficult to fall asleep, and those who experience sleeplessness are at a higher risk for depression. If you think your anxiety or depression is affecting your ability to fall asleep, make an appointment with a mental health professional who can treat your anxiety with therapy and/or medication.
    • Treatments for anxiety and depression may include cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, medication to reduce anxiety, and anti-depressant medications.
  4. Consider phototherapy. As long as the light capturing cells in the retina are at least partially functional, the use of bright light therapy may be beneficial. This type of therapy helps regulate internal queues that help dictate sleep cycles. Talk to your doctor or a local practitioner for more information.

Making Behavioral Changes

  1. Follow a strict sleep/wake schedule. You can help regulate your sleep and wake cycles by sticking to a sleep schedule. Make sure you go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time every morning. Going to bed at the same time every night can make it easier for you to fall asleep.
  2. Create a relaxing bedtime ritual. It will be easier to fall asleep at night if you are relaxed when you get into bed. Try creating a bedtime ritual that allows you to relax, and make an effort to engage in this ritual each night. For example, you can take a warm bath, read, or listen to music.
  3. Exercise regularly. Movement is an important part of being able to fall asleep at night. This is particularly important for people who are blind or visually impaired. Try getting at least thirty minutes of exercise daily. This can include gentle walking, swimming, dancing, or any physical activity that you enjoy.
    • Make sure you talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
    • Try to exercise in the morning or afternoon. Try to avoid exercising in the late evening or right before bed, as some evidence suggests it may impact sleep.
  4. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening. Consuming caffeine too late in the day can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. Try to limit your overall consumption of caffeine. If you do consume caffeine, try to do so before noon and never before bed.
    • Watch out for hidden sources of caffeine including certain medications, teas, and foods.
  5. Limit your alcohol consumption. Alcohol can affect your ability to fall and stay asleep, especially if it is consumed too close to bedtime. If you do consume alcohol, limit your consumption to one drink. You should also try to consume the drink at least one hour before bed as it takes the body an average of one hour to metabolize one unit of alcohol.
  6. Don’t eat or drink right before bed. If you eat a late dinner or consume snacks high in carbohydrates, sugars, or protein right before bed, it could disturb your sleep. Try to eat your evening meal several hours before bed. You should also avoid snacks that contain carbohydrates or protein right before bed.
    • If you need to eat later due to other circumstances, opt for small, nutrient-dense, low-energy foods such as vegetables, nuts, avocado, or apples.
  7. Try to avoid napping. Napping during the day can make it more challenging to fall asleep at night. It can be particularly troublesome for blind or visually impaired individuals whose sleep and wake cycle may already be out of synch. Try limiting or altogether eliminating naps.
    • If you do need to nap, try to limit the naps to 20 minutes.
    • If you go to bed around 10pm, your nap should begin no later than 2:00pm.
    • If you go to bed around midnight, your nap should begin no later than 3:00pm.
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