The results of a study by Emory University researchers could spell hope for thousands of Americans undergoing hemodialysis who experience problems falling and staying asleep.
Hemodialysis (HD) is a method for removing waste products from the blood when renal failure renders the kidneys unable to do so. HD, however, has been shown to induce physiological changes that may raise the body's temperature, possibly adversely affecting sleep the night following treatment.
It is estimated that 500,000 people in the U.S. are on dialysis. That number is expected to rise to 700,000 by 2010.
The pilot research study conducted by Emory nursing and medical school researchers and published in this month's issue of the Journal of Sleep Research identifies a possible solution to combat the increase in body temperature that occurs during HD treatment. The research, involving seven dialysis patients, found that by slightly lowering the temperature of the dialysis bath (typically set at 37 degrees Celsius) during treatment, patient's body temperature could be regulated and they in turn reported greater sleep satisfaction.
"One of the biggest complaints dialysis patients have is trouble sleeping," says Kathy P. Parker, PhD, RN, FAAN, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing professor, co-director of the Emory Sleep Center and study principal investigator.
"The results from the pilot are promising," says Dr. Parker. "We saw substantial differences in sleep following dialysis when patients were subjected to cooler conditions. On average, they got to sleep earlier, got an hour more sleep, and their body temperature rhythms were much more normal."
Dr. Parker also notes that using cool dialysate may be a reasonable, cost-effective way to enhance the sleep of patients on hemodialysis.
The study team also included Emory School of Medicine researchers David B. Rye, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology and director of the Emory Sleep Center; James L. Bailey, MD, professor of nephrology; and Donald L. Bliwise, PhD, professor of neurology. A larger study is underway and results will be available later this year.