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Can You Do Dialysis at Home While Sleeping?

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When it comes to dialysis, choosing the right treatment option to fit your lifestyle is the key to success. In-center dialysis can be a great treatment option, where you can have treatments done during the day or, in some dialysis centers, you can do dialysis while sleeping. If, however, you prefer to be in control of your treatments to better fit your lifestyle, home dialysis may be the right choice.

How Does Dialysis Work?

Dialysis is the process of removing excess fluid and waste from your blood when your kidneys are no longer able to do so effectively. Dialysis can either be done in a dialysis center or at home.

There are two forms of dialysis: peritoneal dialysis (PD) and hemodialysis (HD), both of which can be done at home at night while you sleep. PD uses the lining of your lower abdomen—the peritoneum—to filter your blood using a special cleansing fluid called dialysate through a catheter. PD can either be done manually or using an automated cycler machine. PD is designed to take place continuously, but people using a cycler are usually connected to it for an average of 9 hours in a 24-hour period, making it ideal to do while sleeping.

HD uses an artificial kidney to filter your blood through an access site. Dialysis centers primarily use HD to filter blood, but there are also smaller HD machines that allow you to do HD at home.

Benefits of Home Dialysis at Night

Dialyzing while you sleep at home has many benefits. First off, you’re in your own bed, which can be a comfortable space for your treatment. Dialyzing at night also means your days are free and you won’t need to fit dialysis into your busy schedule. Depending on your treatment, you may also have fewer food and fluid restrictions. Check with your care team for specifics.

How Does Dialysis at Home While Sleeping Affect My Sleep?

It’s understandable to worry that dialysis at night may affect your sleep or your partner’s sleep. Getting enough sleep is crucial to good health. Cyclers and home HD machines are designed to be as quiet as possible; however, if they encounter an issue that may put you at risk, they are designed to get your attention even in deep sleep. Additionally, you will learn how to secure your dialysis access site during sleep so it stays in place. PD catheters, for example, are often placed in your lower abdomen and make it so that you can’t sleep on your stomach.

Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep While Dialyzing

  • Have a routine. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
  • Talk to your care team. Rest assured that skilled home dialysis nurses are always available over the phone if you have any concerns.
  • Create your sleep oasis. Make sure your bedroom is comfortable, as quiet as possible, and dark.
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to sleep in.
  • Clear your mind. Take a few moments to clear your head before bed; sometimes meditation or journaling can help.
  • Exercise regularly. Pump out excess energy through a doctor-approved exercise routine.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol. These can interrupt sleep.

Exploring Your Options

If you are interested in exploring home dialysis options to best fit your busy life, be sure to check with your nephrologist and care team to discuss which options will work best for you. Depending on your treatment modality, you may find that doing dialysis at home while sleeping helps you start your day well-rested and ready to thrive.

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