My dog has insomnia
My Dog Has Insomnia
Soothing our tough nights of anxiety and sadness
I had a plan on how to manage my dog, Sadie, when she aged.
As she got less mobile, I planned to put her in the playroom (which has a door to the outside), and sleep down there, too.
She’d be on pain meds, sleep a lot, and I’d hold her whenever she naturally passed away. It would be very sad, but also peaceful.
But I didn’t know that even sweet dogs get anxiety.
Sadie is the sweetest dog in the world, and I figured that she’d stay that way. But I didn’t know that this would happen:
- Geriatric vestibular syndrome (kinda like vertigo), where she’d reel like a drunken sailor.
- Falling down when she turned her head too quickly.
- A head tilt like the drawings in Hyperbole and a Half.
- Separation anxiety so intense – rapid panting and heart rate, unending pacing, vehement digging of the blankets laid on the rug – that one night I took her to the vet ER at 2 am.
- Dog insomnia… for a dog who is like a cat in disguise and loved sleep
I was glad Restful Insomnia techniques helped her.
I intervened in Sadie’s anxiety/ insomnia by gently setting her down on the ground and laying her head on the rug. (I’m glad she’s not a biter, but she let me know when she had to get up.)
After a while, her rapid panting would turn into rapid snorts. Finally, she’d have a long shuddery inhale… and there it is, a real exhale. Followed by longer breaths and a more relaxed body.
Even if she got up again, each nanosecond of restful parasympathetic response meant she would calm down easier the next time. And eventually her body would let her get the sleep she was desperate for.
And the tools worked for me, too.
Being fluent in Restful Insomnia tools helped me get through the roughest nights.
Like last Tuesday at 3 am, when I spent 45 minutes cleaning her diaper, under her tail, and the mess after she didn’t make it to the door in time.
Even though I really, really, really didn’t like cleaning that mess, I didn’t have the extra stress of worrying about insomnia. Because I knew when I finally got back to bed (or the sofa), I could rest.
I snuggled under the blankets and shifted my mind – from what I had to do the next day, from the wakefulness of the lights and activity, from worrying that all the chucks I laid under Sadie would shift if she had another episode… and focused on my body.
I could dispel my irrational anger at her stubbornness and disruption she’s not meaning to cause. I moved to rest and significantly increased the odds of a faster return to sleep, which indeed happened.
Relishing the cuddles of today.
All of that kept me more relaxed during the worst of it, and with more energy the next day.
It’s helping me make it through where she is right now, instead of how I thought it would be. I can relish walking Sadie to the park and enjoy her cuddles while I have them.
I hope you have some cuddles of your own – from a human, animal, or even curled in a blanket.