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.