Children with Sickle Cell are known to suffer from sleep apnea and adults with the same condition also deal with sleep related disorders such as sleep disordered breathing, delayed sleep syndrome and insomnia which both my siblings suffer from.
Trouble with sleeping in adults could be as a result of having lower oxygen levels at night while sleepiness during the day could be attributed to the pain medication taken necessary to treat symptoms of the disease. Studies suggest that adults who report problems with sleep should be screened using a questionnaire that can help identify specifically what issues they are experiencing. Furthermore, sleep disordered breathing is of particular concern to doctors treating SC patients since it may lead to nighttime hypoxia which induces sickling in sickle red blood cells and any condition that increases the chance of hypoxia, increases the risk of sickling and crisis pain. Although there is not a lot of research that explains why insomnia and other sleep disorders are prevalent among SC sufferers, a few studies suggest that these problems with sleep are predictors of increased clinical pain in adults with sickle cell disease. Also,the severity of insomnia experienced is associated with increased healthcare utilization meaning that the challenges with falling and staying asleep at night is as a result of depression that follows pain severity in adults with the condition.
This could explain why my sister has such a hard time falling asleep at night and then staying asleep almost all day. It was kind of the same way with my brother and probably the result of both their SC history being riddled with a lot of crisis and pain which meant more frequent hospitalizations with pain management treatments. So going by the above study findings, depression brought on by crisis pain is the primary cause of sleep disorders in sickle cell patients.
The general consensus now is for clinicians and relevant medical personnel treating sickle cell in adults to regularly assess for sleep disturbances and provide interventions that include treatment of symptoms relating to depression and pain. It's important to understand all the aspects of SCA and SCD, how it is a disease that affects more than just the body thus learn to treat or manage its consequences/complications on patients and their families.
I'm learning so much more about sickle cell issues than ever before and I hope you are too. Thank you for coming back time and again to read these posts because I know it's not the most popular of topics or subject matters but it means a lot that you read them.