Caring for a loved one can be extremely fulfilling, but it can also be emotionally and physically draining, expensive, and isolating. Caring for a loved one, whether a parent, grandparent, spouse, or friend, can take a toll on your sleep schedule. Keep in mind that caring for a loved one means neglecting your own needs as well.
In the role of caretaker, you have to deal with many things that are beyond your control. By using these suggestions, you can regain some sense of control over your life and get some much-needed sleep.
How Common Is This?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 40.4 million carers in the United States, making you far from alone. Twenty-three percent of Americans provide care for a family member or friend who has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. 44 percent of them are responsible for caring for aging parents, and more than 50 percent of them also work outside the home.
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. Providing physical, financial, or emotional support to a loved one can be extremely difficult, regardless of the type of care you are providing. 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
Caring for others might have a negative effect on one’s ability to get a good night’s sleep. Caregivers have limited time, so taking a nap or going to bed early aren’t always options. 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.
It is possible for Alzheimer’s patients to undergo a phenomenon known as “sundowning,” in which they become more confused at night. Caregivers must be on call at all times in case their patients experience abnormal behavior or are awakened repeatedly during the night.
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 disorders.
Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
The effects of sleep deprivation go far beyond feeling drowsy; they can be life-threatening, especially if they last for a long time.
As more study is done, it becomes more and clearer that sleep has a profound impact on both our mental and physical health. Sleep deprivation can cause a person to be unable to focus, resulting in disorientation and a slower reaction time. Additionally, sleep deprivation can contribute to emotional instability and slower recovery from physical damage.
There are additional negative effects that include weight gain and a weakened immune system. Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and mental health disorders including anxiety and depression can all result from long-term sleep deprivation. Despite the fact that your caregiving days are done, these impacts might last a lifetime.
For Your Loved Ones
Sleep deprivation not only impacts you but also people around you, particularly the person you are caring for. 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
Helping someone else take care of their needs can be isolating, and no one should be forced to do so on their own. Be careful to ask for assistance from those who are close to you. Close friends and family members should be happy to help you out on a regular basis, perhaps one day a week or while you’re running errands.
The peace of mind that comes from knowing that your loved one is being well-taken care of can help you sleep better at night.
Set Healthy Boundaries
If you want to be a good caretaker, you must first take care of yourself. Setting limits and determining how much is too much are critical to maintaining a sense of perspective and sanity. Know when to assign responsibilities to others and when to take a break to recharge your batteries.
Caregiver tasks like going to the salon, food shopping, or seeing the dentist might be stressful. Make arrangements for someone to accompany your loved one while you attend to your own needs and those of your family. In the event that you can’t get away for an extended period of time, consider taking a brief vacation.
Caregivers are constrained by the amount of time they have to devote to another person’s well-being. Bedtime rituals were once commonplace, but now they seem like a luxury. However, research shows that establishing a consistent bedtime routine improves the quality and length of your sleep.
There is no time limit, although it is important to attempt to get some sleep at the same time every night.
Ideas to help you wind down and prepare for sleep:
However, even while it may be tempting, following a nightly routine can help you fall asleep more quickly in the long run.
Put Away the Devices
It’s crucial to avoid items that can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep while caring for a loved one. The hormone melatonin, which aids in sleep and relaxation, might be delayed if you use electronic devices like phones and tablets or watch television close to bedtime. It can take longer to fall asleep because of the blue light displayed on these devices, which deceive your brain into thinking it’s daytime.
Remove this technology at least one hour before you intend to go to sleep. You can also lessen the impact on our melatonin levels by utilizing blue-light filtering glasses when using your phone during the day.
Avoid Naps and Caffeine
In the same vein as using technology, naps and caffeine can also disrupt your sleep. Late-afternoon naps, in particular, can diminish your desire to sleep in the evening. Take a snooze early in the day if you really need one.
Even after the benefits of caffeine wear off, the stimulant can still be present in your body for up to 24 hours. Caregivers often have to get up in the middle of the night, so a cup of coffee or an energy drink in the afternoon may feel like a need, but try to limit your caffeine intake. Caffeine shouldn’t be a problem for most people in the morning, but everyone’s body reacts differently to it.
Consider Counseling or Therapy
Keep an eye on your own mental well-being, and seek out support from loved ones, friends, or experts (such as a therapist, counselor, or adviser) if you need it. People who are going through the same situation as you can join support groups both online and in person.
Keep a Journal
Not having somebody nearby or not being able to confide in someone else can make it difficult to get your ideas out at times. 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
There’s a good chance you could benefit from some extra relaxation time, such as that provided by yoga or meditation. Although they may not be suitable for everyone, studies have shown that they can help people sleep better. Meditation can also be an excellent method to relax after a long day’s work.
Enrolling in a class can help you make sure you set aside time for yourself. Getting things done sometimes necessitates a little outside assistance.
Get Good Exercise… Early in The Day!
Is it time to get some extra shuteye in? You may achieve it naturally by exercising. There is a strong link between getting enough sleep and working out, as evidenced by several studies.
You can make a big difference even with just 15 minutes of exercise each day. Turn on a workout video or set up a yoga mat while your loved one is having a morning nap and get the benefits.
Keep in mind that exercising late in the day can keep you awake at night. A workout straight before bed can be problematic because it can take some time for your heart rate to cool down. Getting your blood pumping can also be a terrific way to start your day.
Unless you’ve been a caregiver yourself, you don’t realize how much labor it is to be one, and it’s no wonder that many caregivers suffer from mental and physical health issues as a result. 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 it is critical to be the best caregiver you can be. It will benefit both you and your loved one!