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Different Strokes
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Post stroke insomnia

Hi. My mum has suffered from insomnia since she had her stroke a few months ago. The doctor has prescribed zopiclone which gives her about 3 to 4 hours sleep per night but she cant manage any sleep when she doesn't take it. She is reluctant to take anti depressants because of the side effects. The doctor seems to have run out of ideas other than putting her on the sleeping tablets permanently which doesn't seem ideal. Does anyone have any other suggestions. My mum is 78 years old. I look after both my parents on a full time basis now as they are both fully blind and my dad have severe dementia.

4 Replies
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Sleep is a problem after any brain injury, you don’t mention if your father has this problem as well.

I remember being told by my fathers GP that as we age we should all take antidepressants because our bodies don’t make sufficient serotonin. All that is happening is that chemical is being replaced.

You don’t say if her reluctance is because she has previously taken them and had problems or if this is because she’s heard other people’s tales.

If it’s the latter then you shouldn’t believe all you hear, people are only too willing to share medical problems and sometimes embellish them for effect.

Personally, and I know of others on this site who are of the same opinion, I am happy to take antidepressants whenever I need them, I have been taking them on and off since my 40s, I am now 65.

I was prescribed them in the hospital when I came round from my coma and took them for around 3-4 years at that point, they were necessary while I learned to cope with the changes my brain injury made to me.

Sleep as we age becomes difficult anyway. Lying quietly and resting helps us too. Does your mum listen to audiobooks? I do now and it is the first thing I reach for if I wake in the night, I also go to sleep listening to it, I put it on timer, half an hour is usually enough, remember falling asleep as a child when you were read a bedtime story?

Hope this helps.

Janet x

Reply

Thank you so much for your reply Janet.

My dad actually sleeps all the time - sometimes we wish we could trade off some of his sleep to give to my mum.

My mum did take anti depressants many years ago and didn't have the best experience with them. The doctor did prescribe sertraline but after reading through the notes and all the potential side effects, she was reluctant to try it especially given that the doctor said it could be three to four weeks before she experienced any benefit from it.

She does have audio books from the RNIB but she has been reluctant to go back to them after her stroke and has reverted to braille books again but perhaps this is something we will try.

I'm also going to try taking her for a short walk each day just to give her some more exercise and to get some fresh air as I'm hoping this might help.

She also has problems with very hot feet at night (I put cream on them every night for her) and she sometimes has to step in a basin of water during the night to cool them off. She was once prescribed amitryptiline for this but again she decided against taking it as it was an anti depressant (even though the doctor did state it wasn't particulary great as an anti depressant!).

thanks again

Jeremy

Reply

Hi Jeremy, i tried amitryptilene but it dodnt help the problem i was prescribed it for, neuropathic pain and pressure headaches. For it to work as an antidepressant it is presctibed in larger doses.

I find relief from my pressure headaches has been achieved with pregabalin which is also prescribed for pain relief, as an antidepressant and also gor epilepsy, all at different dosages. She really should try, after that initial 3/4 weeks it should be worth it.

The walk will help, theres nothing worse that sitting around all day then thinking you may sleep at night.

Janet x

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JerH.

Itoo hadTHIS AFTER MY STROKE ,THE DOCTOR prescribed termazapine which has worked wonders.hope this helps..

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