The role of a caregiver, especially children caring for ageing parents, can cause round the clock stress. When your loved one is unwell, it may even require round the clock attention. We know that many adult caregivers have a lot on their plate – children of their own, jobs, life, and now the worry of providing the right care for their parents. The result of all of this is often too little caregiver sleep, which only results in more problems from chronic fatigue. Underslept individuals are susceptible to weight gain, depression, irritability, and becoming ill themselves, so it is vitally important to make sure we get those seven to eight hours of sleep every night in order to be the great caregivers our families need us to be. Here are our top tips to help caregivers get enough quality sleep:
1. Practise good sleep hygiene. The place where you sleep should be your sanctuary – and just for sleep. If your loved one needs to be monitored at night, try using a baby monitor rather than sleeping in the same room. If you can, make your bedroom a dark, cosy place with no distractions – no TV, work, emails, etc.
2. Get in the habit. After a stressful day, it can take a lot to wind the body down and let the brain know it’s time to settle into a sleep pattern. Establishing a bedtime routine can actually help stimulate the response, so create good evening habits: turn off technology one hour before bed, avoid caffeine and alcohol, dim lights, and practise destressing activity like meditation, gentle yoga, or a hot bath.
3. Scheduled stress. It’s always the same – we turn off the lights to sleep, and suddenly our worried brain goes into overdrive, guaranteeing there will be no sleep tonight. Some caregivers have found it useful to actually schedule this worrying activity at a time of the day when it won’t get in the way of sleep – at the gym, perhaps. Do all of your thinking then, keep a diary, meditate, and then stop. When you climb into bed, your head should be clear of everything you needed to worry about today.
You’re doing a great job. Stop being so hard on yourself! Find out how our elder care in Victoria, BC and nearby areas can help improve caregiver sleep with trusted respite care services. Let us take the night shift so you can get the rest you need! We can help in a wide range of other ways as well; contact us today for a free in-home consultation to learn more.