If you or your child has phenylketonuria (PKU), you may have trouble with sleep due to imbalances in signaling molecules in your body. If you or your child experience sleep issues, you may want to try sleep hygiene techniques to rest better.
PKU and sleep
PKU is caused by a mutation in the PAH gene resulting in a decrease in the phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) enzyme. This enzyme normally converts an amino acid (amino acids are the building blocks of proteins) called phenylalanine into another one called tyrosine. The body uses tyrosine to make several neurotransmitters or cell-signaling molecules, including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These molecules, as well as another one that is produced from serotonin called melatonin, all play a role in the regulation of sleep. So, imbalances between them could lead to sleep issues.
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene consists of habits and changes to your environment to promote longer and more restful sleep. Practicing sleep hygiene may help you or your child enjoy better sleep, making you feel more alert and rested.
Sleep hygiene tips
Controlling your phenylalanine levels and taking melatonin supplements may help with sleep issues. There are a number of modifications to your daily routine that also could improve your sleep. Following are a few examples.
What you or your child does during the day can have a major impact on your sleep in the evening. Exercise can help you or your child burn excess energy and promote better sleep at night. But don’t exercise too late in the evening as it may make it harder to fall asleep.
Getting sufficient levels of sunlight during the day also can help regulate sleep-wake cycles.
Try to avoid daytime naps, but if you must, try to nap earlier in the day and for only a short time.
Avoid caffeinated or sugary food and drinks later in the day as the extra stimulation may make it harder to fall asleep. It also is a good idea to avoid large, heavy, or spicy meals for dinner because they may cause discomfort when you lay down in bed. Alcohol and nicotine also can interfere with sleep quality.
There are several things you can change about your bedtime routine.
Try to set up a consistent routine each night to train your body that it is time for bed. Going to bed at the same time each night is helpful.
You should try to avoid bright lights in the evening as they can interfere with your sleep-wake cycle. The blue light coming from electronics such as computers, TVs, and cell phones can interfere with the sleep schedule. To avoid this effect, you should avoid their use 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed.
To help your body prepare for sleep, it may be helpful to engage in a relaxing activity. These might include listening to soft music, reading, or taking a warm bath to help wind down before bed.
You can make changes to your or your child’s bedroom that can help with sleep. Make sure the room is as dark and quiet as possible. If it is too hard to eliminate sounds in the bedroom, it may be helpful to add white noise to cover it up, such as a noise machine, fan, or soft music.
Removing distractions such as cell phones or toys from your child’s bedroom may help reduce stimulation. Some light scents such as lavender may be helpful in relaxing and falling asleep.
Having a comfortable mattress, pillow, and bedding also can help you or your child more comfortable and sleep better.
Last updated: March 11, 2021
Phenylketonuria News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
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