Sleeplessness with Kidney Failure - Early CKD Support

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Sleeplessness with Kidney Failure


Hi everyone

I hope you don't mind me posting a question on here on behalf of my father. He is 83 and was diagnosed with kidney failure in January 2012. He started dialysis at Christmas. He has never felt well since then.

Over the past 3 months he has had difficulty sleeping and most nights gets little or no sleep at all. I understand this can happen with kidney failure but am especially worried as at his age as he has heart problems and is quite frail too.

I read that anaemia can contribute to sleeplessness and he does have intravenous iron and transfusions periodically for this but it doesn't seem to be helping with the sleep problem.

My father also gets diarrhoea and I was just wondering if anyone has experienced these problems and if they found any way that helped them get through them.

I emailed his new doctor at the hospital over 3 weeks ago saying that my father wanted to see her and she has yet to make an appearance. Sadly, his former consultant, who was excellent and very diligent, retired earlier this year.

Many thanks!


7 Replies

When your kidneys are not working it impacts on the rest of the body in so many different ways. I did not start dialysis myself but was extremely close to it at one point..

I really dont know if it will benefit your father, or even if he at 83 will be prepared to make dietary changes, but I strongly believe that changing my diet to include more alkaline foodstuffs and less acid foodstuffs help me to regain some kidney improvement. This link will give you some idea of what foods MAY be beneficial/detrimental.

Any improvements will lessen the negative symptoms he is experiencing.

Maybe someone who is actually on dialysis can give more targeted advice.

I too suffer sleeplessness and have been on dialysis for 16 months now . Don't refer to the alkaline vs acid diet sheet that is recommended by people who are not on dialysis as you body cannot cope with most of the foods on the alkaline side like tomatoes etc , Talk to the dietician about foods that will help with the digestion . As things like your fathers phosphates, potassium , etc will be getting monitored every month via blood tests . I too suffer with upset stomachs and strangely my gp put me on senna to help relieve some of the symptoms along with really reducing dairy produce to a minimum . I have yet to find a cure for the sleeplessness although a friend who is also on dialysis takes anti depressants that help them sleep prescribed by the hospital consultant.

Thanks so much Overnighthearingloss and pluto 94 for your advice. It's very interesting to hear your dietary advice on the acid/alkaline topic as it is a diet I myself have recently started following for other reasons and am already seeing benefits.

He does have access to a dietician at the hospital but all she does is tell him to eat whatever he wants! A fellow dialysis patient couldn't believe it as he had been put on a strict diet. I think I need to try and see another dietician.

He does eat a lot of dairy and has started to reduce it and I think it is helping him.

I will also mention the anti depressants to him. This may be an immediate step to take so at least he can get some sleep and I shall have another attempt to track down the elusive consultant!

Thanks again so much for your help.

Best wishes


Hi KJay, my dad was on dialysis for the last ten years of his life, he died aged 90. He used to suffer with the same sort of symptoms. I had a chat with his consultant via the dialysis team, and they prescribed him loperamide for his diarrhoea and gave him diet sheets. He used to say that he never really felt well again either, but I think age was against his body adapting too well. Dialysis makes you a bit of a 'moving target' as far as symptoms are concerned, and I found that I was always seeing someone about making adjustments.

I wish you and your father all the very best xx

Thanks for replying GrannyChris and thanks so much for your well wishes. Your father did well to reach 90 on dialysis. My father was given 2 years last September and I think, as you say, age is a big contributing factor to their symptoms especially as my father has heart problems too.

I think as you, Pluto94 and Overnighthearingloss have said, diet is a big factor so I think I need to speak to the dietician again. I will also mention loperamide to them too.

Many thanks Grannychris and best wishes xx

Actually I must apologise. I never got to dialysis so it was alkaline foods without dialysis for me.

As your father is actually on dialysis I think you would be better advised to listen to those who are already on dialysis with regards to your father.

Many thanks Overnighthearingloss for your message. The link you gave was very interesting and my father has just been reading a book called How to Avoid Dialysis and Cure Kidney Disease which talks a lot about the alkaline diet from what he has told me.

He will proceed with caution as he is on dialysis but advice from the NHS dietician seems to vary according to the form of kidney failure patients have. I asked the hospital dietician about slippery elm powder to soothe his stomach and she said she'd never heard of it. When I asked about whether he could eat sprouts as they are very nutritious, she said she'd never heard of them either!

I am trying to book an appointment for him with a dietician not connected to the NHS but who is highly qualified, advises cancer charities and also has kidney failure (not sure whether that's a good or a bad thing in my father's case!) and came recommended by a friend. So I am hoping she can give a bit more guidance to us and hopefully she will have heard of sprouts!

I have read a lot about diet for my own health but as I know nothing about diets for kidney failure apart from the basics, I don't want to encourage him to follow a path that proves dangerous for someone in his condition, so I fully understand what you say.

Incidentally, I have recently read that slippery elm can reverse kidney failure in cats so hopefully this is a safe remedy for my father to take.

Thanks again for your help and advice.

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