When you’re a caregiver, you have twice as many reasons to get enough sleep. You and the one you care for both need you to be well-rested.
However, that’s easier said than done. Up to 70% of caregivers report sleep issues, and 41% say they are awakened during the night by the person that they provide care to, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance.
However, sleep deprivation can cause health issues for you and reduce the quality of care you provide for others. You may even need to place a loved one in a facility if you’re unable to keep up.
Fortunately, there are many effective techniques to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Start with these suggestions, including some tips especially for caregivers.
- Buy a monitor. You’ll probably sleep more soundly if you spend the night in a separate bedroom. You can still keep watch over your care receiver by using a remote monitor. Browse for devices with motion sensors and video feed for extra peace of mind.
- Learn about sleep disorders. Many chronic conditions involve sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome and apnea. Keep a journal of relevant symptoms that you can discuss during doctor visits. Successful treatment could make your nights more peaceful for you and your care receiver.
- Talk with family members. Respite care is essential if you want to avoid fatigue and burnout. Ask loved ones what they can do to help share the responsibility.
- Hire a nurse. Professional services are also an option. Ask your doctor for referrals or call your local Agency on Aging. Browse online for information about different types of providers, from Personal Care Assistants to Registered Nurses.
- Join a group. Explore caregiving support groups online and in your neighborhood. Connecting with others in similar situations may help relieve depression and anxiety.
- Limit caffeine. Extra coffee can help you study for a test, but it’s not a long-term solution. The stimulating effects of caffeine decline after about 3 days, so drinking plain water will give you more sustainable energy.
- Follow a consistent schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time as much as possible. If you have a rough night, nap during the day to give yourself a boost.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it interferes with the quality of your rest. Current guidelines suggest up to one drink a day for women and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.
- Work out. Enhanced sleep is one of the many benefits of physical exercise. Join a gym and design activities you can do at home so you can work out at least 3 days a week.
- Redo your bedroom. Keep your bedroom dark and quiet. Replace your mattress and pillow if they’re no longer providing much support.
- Manage stress. Caregivers may be especially prone to staying up worrying at night. Find relaxation methods that work for you. Meditate daily or listen to soft music.
- Create bedtime rituals. Turn off electronic devices at least 2 hours before bedtime. Work on a soothing hobby or take a warm bath.
- Talk with your doctor. See your physician if you’re still having trouble with getting the rest you need. Follow your doctor’s recommendations if they prescribe medication or order tests to rule out physical causes.
Caregiving is challenging enough without trying to function while you’re short on sleep. Make lifestyle changes that will help you get sufficient rest and ask for help when you need it.