Sleep and the Dying Process

Another part of the natural dying process is a person begins sleeping more. Starting 2 to 4 months before death occurs from disease a person begins taking an afternoon nap which progresses from just an afternoon nap to a morning and afternoon nap then to both naps plus sleeping in front of the TV at night. Before you know it the person is in bed all day, just doesn’t get out of bed, then is asleep more than awake.

As family and caregivers we tend to push our loved one to be active, to get out of bed, to stay awake. Our belief, which is true in most of life, is if we don’t use our body, don’t exercise and be active, we will become weaker and less able to function. This is not true for someone who has entered the dying process. We have to change our thinking, new rules apply.

Sleep becomes our friend. Our body is like a battery that is losing its charge. Sleep recharges our battery. Sleep, like food, buys us a little more energy. It doesn’t fix the problem but for awhile it can allow the body to be a little more active.

A nap before and after a planned activity may give a bit more energy to enjoy that activity. As with food there will come a time in the dying process when the body is simply letting go of the need for being awake. It is letting go of its hold on this planet, of its need for the energy that food and sleep provide.



Hey Jim. Im not a doctor. But my two cents….how is your diet? Are you eating things that skyrocket and crash your blood sugar? Have you ever had thyroid problems? Xanax can absolutely be the culprit. Like Barbara said, try taking it at night. Xanax is a big downer. So much that I used to take it for sleep. Are you waking up throughout the night? If the Xanax is for anxiety or depression either of those can make you tired. Don’t stress about it to the point of researching on the internet…it will only lead you to extreme conclusions. Try to relax, take naps when you feel like it. Find an activity you like rather than staying still all day. Try things you haven’t done. Painting puts me in a zone. I’m not good but I don’t care. It gets me focused and excited. It’s a project to work on for days at a time. You can research all you want, but it doesn’t stop us from dying eventually. When I die I want to just go with the flow. We’re just passengers. And that’s ok. What matters is being good to the people around you. See a doctor if it’s worrying you. Otherwise, these are your years to look back at all the wisdom you’ve gained the last 84. Don’t let them fly by. Time passes quicker the more we age because we stop having new experiences. Do something you’ve never done. Even if it’s at home. I hope you find joy.


Hi James, I don’t know enough about your medical history to be able to offer an opinion about your drowsiness. Yes, it could be the Xanax taken in the morning. You might try taking it at bedtime. Give your doctor a call and see what he thinks. Just being drowsy is not necessarily a sign I look for to determine approaching death.
Blessings! Barbara

James Pepoon

Either I am dying or it is a brain tumor. I have episodes of drowsiness daily. I am a 84_year old senior and I wish I could know the cause. I do take 1mg Xanax daily which is also a possibility. If anyone could help I could use it.

Thank you,

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