What is Sundowning (aka night terrors) why does it leave you exhausted the next day
“Sundowners” symptoms plague some folks who have mid-stage Alzheimers.
Often the symptoms are so severe they are described as night terrors. My Mom was plagued with these fitful nights for many weeks.
I’ve often suggested head-phones and soft music, including subliminal tapes, for the night terrors and a few have found relief by following this suggestion.
But some patients have such severe night terrors that more is needed. Doctors will prescribe sedating medications, but not all dementia sufferers want to solve their problems with sedation.
While attempting to help my Mom with these fitful, terror-filled nights, another friend suggested Visualizations.
Since I’m no expert on Visualizations, I’m including this article with instructions written by Martin Robinson.
He discusses the technique in regard to Scuba Diving. I believe by following his words and visualizing a trip beneath the Ocean, you might use this same visualization for your next night-filled with Nightmares. Or, learning the technique of visualization, you might also Visualize whatever you like to have a peaceful trip away from Sundowners and a peaceful night’s sleep.
Although this article is written with SCUBA diving in mind, it has validity in many aspects of life. I have said many times that SCUBA diving is mostly in your mind. And by that I mean the enjoyment and relaxation, which makes SCUBA diving a pleasure rather than a ‘survival experience’. I watched a fascinating program on TV once all about the Snowbirds, Canada’s aerobatic flying team. The entire team goes through visualization exercises as a team activity. They all sit around a table close their eyes and imagine that they are actually flying in the formation that they are developing or practicing. They are calling out what they are doing in their minds, and it appears very odd to watch them doing this. The result is that the pilots experience everything just as if they are there. There have been experiments carried out with Athletes during which they are encouraged to visualize themselves competing in their event. They have muscle sensors attached to their bodies, and amazingly their muscles fire in the same way that they do when they are actually competing. Go Figure!
How can we use this for SCUBA diving? Well it has been used in SCUBA diving before now, not only by me, but world famous cave divers have used visualization exercises to make crisis situations more familiar, and enable them to practice, practice and practice some more without their being any real risk.
Have YOU ever felt anxiety while SCUBA diving or doing any task, for that matter? I bet you have. You don’t need to admit it to anyone else, but YOU and I both know there have been times when your heart beats just a bit too fast, your breathing became faster and shallower, and without even realizing it, your body was going through that whole “fight or flight” preparation caused by adrenaline. Maybe you even felt as though you couldn’t get enough air? This is a bad and stressful way to feel.
So how do most folks deal with anxiety?The first thing to understand is that you can change your response to stimulus, and ‘learn’ a different response to anxiety, which will give control back to you. Would you like to try it right now? See what it’s like to control your own thoughts, control your own imagination. All you have to do is sit back and control what you think. Use your imagination –don’t just hear but ‘feel’ what I am telling you. While you sit back with eyes closed, in a relaxed position, ask a friend to read the following story. The reader would do best to read the following paragraphs slowly, in a low voice. As he reads, allow yourself to think only of the words being spoken and imagine yourself in that place.
Feel the hot sun on your back as you bounce across the ocean heading to a dive site. Your Divemaster has now tied up the boat and is giving you a great briefing, even telling you where to find various special creatures on the dive. You complete your buddy checks and do a giant stride off the boat. Hear the splash as you hit the water and slow down your breathing as you check everything is in place, and start your descent. The water is gin-clear and warm, schools of fish can be seen below and you marvel as a large turtle swims by. Using the line you make a slow steady descent having no problems equalizing, and having perfect buoyancy control. This really is the perfect dive…
After a few minutes you are down to your target depth and as you fine tune your buoyancy you pause for a moment to listen to your own breathing and notice how slow, calm, and controlled it is, almost a Zen-like state envelopes you now and you move away from the line, following the Divemaster as he seems to move with no effort ahead of you. Perfectly streamlined, and perfectly relaxed you marvel at the amazing things pointed out by your Divemaster, and calmly flood and clear your mask to remove a little fogging.
Time seems to stand still as you move weightless and effortlessly through the amazing undersea world with just a lazy flick of your fins. A tank banger causes you to look at the Divemaster who is indicating the halfway point, time to turn around. You wonder how much air you have left, and a quick check indicates you are not even half way through your tank. The perfect ascent, with buoyancy control feeling instinctive, you hover cross-legged at the safety stop, enjoying the weightlessness, and listening to the hypnotic sound of your own exhaust bubbles. All too soon you are back on the boat and the Divemaster calls you over as he is changing your tank. “Hey, look at this” he says, “You used to be an air-pig, but you still have lots of air left today, what changed?” Will you tell him how a few very simple relaxation and visualization techniques made the difference?
Wow I feel like I should log that dive it felt so realistic to me. What’s more my breathing slowed down noticeably. Did yours?
If you felt yourself on a lovely dive beneath the warm water of the ocean, you traversed through a Visualization. You created the dive in your imagination and it felt real, didn’t it. This is the same thing you can do near bed-time on those evenings when you feel a fitful night with Sundowners or night terrors is upon you. Let yourself visit a Mediterranean island, take a flight to the moon–go where ever you want through the depths of your imagination. Bring your own peace into your life despite Alzheimer’s or Dementia or Sundowners.