Caring for a loved one can be immensely fulfilling, but it can also be emotionally and physically draining, expensive, and isolating at the same time. Getting adequate sleep is usually the last thing on your mind while you’re taking care of a parent, grandparent, spouse, or friend. You must also take care of your own health while caring for your loved one.
Many things are beyond your control as a caretaker. By using these suggestions, you can regain some sense of control over your life and get some much-needed sleep.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 40.4 million carers in the United States, making you far from alone. Of those, 23% provide care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of degenerative brain disease. The vast majority of people (44 percent) are caring for their aging parents, and more than half have additional occupations.
Eldercare can be a full-time job, depending on the condition of the loved one; while some elderly people need assistance with everyday tasks like grocery shopping or cleaning their house, others require more intensive care, such as bathing, dressing, and feeding. It doesn’t matter if you’re providing physical, financial, or emotional support to your loved one; it can be quite stressful. Caregiver burden is a term that has been coined in the medical community to describe the mental and physical health issues that result from this.
Impact On Sleep
There is no denying the fact that providing care can interfere with getting enough sleep. A caregiver’s time is restricted, so naps and early bedtimes aren’t always an option. Aside from disrupting sleep patterns and limiting time in deep sleep, middle-of-the-night wakeups can also lead to a lack of restorative sleep.
Patients with Alzheimer’s may suffer from “sundowning,” in which their confusion becomes more pronounced at night. This might lead to nighttime awakenings and odd behavior, which necessitates constant attention from caregivers.
The stress of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can make it impossible to sleep, and two-thirds of the 10 million carers of persons with dementia have experienced sleep disruptions, according to a new study.
Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
As more study is done, it becomes more and clearer that sleep has a profound impact on both our mental and physical health. When a person is sleep-deprived, they may have difficulties concentrating, which can lead to slowed reaction times and confusion. Emotional instability and a longer recovery time are both possible side effects of not getting the deep, restorative sleep your body needs.
In addition, you may experience increased appetite and a weakened immune system as a result of the medication. Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and mental health disorders including anxiety and depression can all result from long-term sleep deprivation. Once you’ve finished caring for a loved one, the repercussions of your caregiving might endure a lifetime.
For Your Loved Ones
People in your life, including the person for whom you are caring, are adversely affected by sleep loss in addition to your own well-being. On-the-job mistakes, such as failing to dispense medicine or missing essential appointments, might result from a lack of focus and uncertainty. In a drowsy driving accident, your passengers and those on the road with you are at risk because of the dangers of drowsy driving.
Tips for Healthier Caregiving
Ask For Help
No one should have to care for someone else on their own. If you need assistance, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Friends and family members who are close to you should be more than happy to assist you on a regular basis, perhaps once a week or while you run errands.
The peace of mind that comes from knowing that your loved one is well cared for on a few nights per week is priceless.
Set Healthy Boundaries
If you want to be a good caretaker, you must first take care of yourself. In order to maintain one’s sanity, one must know when to stop and when to keep going. Know when to assign responsibilities to others and when to take a break to recharge your batteries.
As a caregiver, getting a haircut, going grocery shopping, or going to the dentist might be challenging. Ask a friend or family member to take care of your loved one while you take care of yourself and your family. If you can, take a trip, even if it’s just for a few days, every now and then to clear your mind.
Caregivers are constrained by the amount of free time they have due to the demands of providing care. The idea of having a regular sleep ritual may no longer feel like a need. If you stick to a consistent bedtime routine, you’ll sleep better and longer, according to research.
There is no time limit, although it is important to attempt to get some sleep at the same time every night.
The following are some suggestions for winding down and preparing for bed:
While it may be alluring to scurry to bed as soon as possible, sticking to a schedule will help you wind down and sleep better in the long run.
Put Away the Devices
With the added stress of caregiving, it’s crucial to avoid any triggers that could make it even more difficult to sleep. The production of melatonin, the hormone that aids in sleep, can be delayed if you use your phone, tablet, or television near bedtime. As a result, it can take longer to fall asleep because of the blue light displays on these devices.
It’s recommended to put away your gadgets at least one hour before you expect to fall asleep. Wearing blue-light-filtering glasses while using your phone during the day can make a major difference in your melatonin production.
Avoid Naps and Caffeine
In the same vein as using technology, naps and caffeine can also disrupt your sleep. When taken late in the day, midday naps can reduce your desire to sleep later in the day. Try taking a nap before the afternoon sets in if you truly need it.
Even after the benefits of caffeine wear off, the stimulant can still be present in your body for up to 24 hours. As a caregiver, you may find yourself needing an afternoon cup of coffee or energy drink, but try to avoid caffeine as much as possible. Having a cup of coffee in the morning shouldn’t be a problem for most people, but remember that everyone’s body reacts differently to caffeine.
Consider Counseling or Therapy
Take care of your mental well-being by seeking support from loved ones, friends, or professionals (such as therapists, counselors, or consultants) who can assist you in coping with the challenges of being a primary caregiver. People who are going through the same situation as you can join support groups both online and in person.
Keep a Journal
If you don’t have anyone nearby or don’t feel comfortable sharing your thoughts with someone else, journaling might be a great way to do so. Keeping a journal is a great method to record your thoughts and feelings, and it may also act as a sort of therapy. As a caregiver, the days can be emotionally and complexly challenging.
Consider Yoga or Meditation
Yoga or meditation can be a great way for you to unwind and relax your mind and body. Even while they may not be for everyone, studies have shown that they can help people sleep better. Meditation, on the other hand, is an excellent approach to relieve stress.
Taking time for oneself might be as simple as enrolling in a class. You may need a little help from someone else to get it done.
Get Good Exercise… Early in The Day!
Are you looking for a natural way to sleep better? Being physically active is one of the most effective methods of doing this. There is a strong link between getting enough sleep and getting some physical activity.
Even 15 minutes of daily exercise might have a significant impact. Turn on a workout video or set up a yoga mat while your loved one is having a morning nap and get the benefits.
Don’t work out too late in the day because it can keep you up at night. As your heart rate begins to drop down, exercising shortly before bed may not be ideal. Aside from that, getting your heart rate up is a terrific way to start your day.
A huge majority of caregivers suffer from mental and physical health issues as a result of putting their own needs on the back burner while caring for others. You may do a lot to better your position by asking for help from loved ones, getting some exercise, and spending a few minutes to yourself.
Taking care of oneself may feel awkward at first, but remember that you must be the greatest caregiver you can be. It will benefit both you and your loved one!