Afraid to go to sleep

My father is terminally ill and has been prescribed some tablets to help him sleep. He sleeps in a hospital-style bed at home. Each night he takes his sleeping pill about 9pm, and often tells me he is afraid to go to sleep in case he will not wake up. I can understand his fear, but I do not know how to cope and react to this. His sleeping is poor, he probably only gets about 3-4 hours sleep a night, and is very restless, requiring movement between his bed and his riser-recliner often several times a night.

If you have been in the same position, what did you do? How did you cope for both the cared for and yourself?

I feel exhausted due to the attention needed overnight with physical movements and emotional issues.

We have had a visit from a Macmillan Nurse but apart from a 10 minute conversation with me, there wasn’t really anything they could do. My father is just as fearful now as he has been for the past few months.

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Google search…


Has something historically happened.

Have you looked at the prescription leaflet for any associated issues. If the tablet causes such distress can the G.P. not suggest/find an alternative to a sleeping tablet. Rather than a sleeping tablet something than can help to relax. Which might help towards natural sleep.

You need to get help from Social Services for assistance at night. You can’t be expected to be up all night every night.

Has there been a needs assessment recently.

Do you have a local hospice offering support? YOU need a break from all this. Dad should have Continuing Healthcare and overnight care if needed.

I would have refused to do it, (and I’d advise you to as well).

Had my wife not had a catheter fitted whilst in hospital, (I think initially to save the nurses from exactly that problem during the night), then I’d be in the same position now.

Prior to becoming non-weight bearing, she used to pee about every 90 minutes, day and night, I wouldn’t even consider trying to cope with that, apart from anything else, she’d have wet herself by the time she’d woken me up, I’ve always just virtually died once I go to sleep.

Thanks for all the replies.

It is not in my nature not to help my father at his time of greatest need. I am quite prepared to be up some of the time in the nights, but just wondered how others might be coping/have coped previously.

If you qualify for NHS Continuing Healthcare, he could have someone awake with him so you can share the care, or during the day if you prefer to rest during the day. Ask your GP to make a “Fast track” application and it could be arranged in 48 hours.

Hi Paul

I am facing similar issues with my father who we have been told now has three months to live. He’s currently in hospital but when. he is home (which he should be again shortly) I have slept on his floor and then got up in the night - but required day care to help (which seems bit easier to source). It is very hard - especially if you dont have friends and family nearby. If there is no-one who can help out occasionally can you try to sleep when he does or see if you could get some respite?

We have applied for and been fast tracked through NHS Continuing Healthcare but have been told by the CCG that they won’t fund night care at home for the over 65s. Im not sure if that is just in our area though - others may have been more successful.

I would also be interested to know how others manage it - after nearly four months on the floor/up all night I was shattered.

I do hope you are okay - sending you both all my best wishes.

Perhaps I should have aded - my father likes to listen to the radio , audiobooks or watch TV when he wakes at night. I find this is also helpful to stop him worrying/it distracts/comforts. him - perhaps you could download some of his favourite shows and put his headphones on if he wakes ? just a suggestion