Being a caregiver has many demands – both physically and emotionally. In addition to the responsibilities of caregiving, you may deal with work deadlines, social isolation, financial issues and/or medical conditions.
After a long day, most caregivers want to be able to relax and crawl into bed; however, that may be challenging: a crying infant, a teen pushing curfew limits, a restless puppy or an elderly parent who needs help getting to the bathroom. It might be hard for you to find time to sleep and even more difficult to fall asleep once you get in bed.
Getting enough sleep is even more challenging when the person you care for has dementia. According to a study, about 2/3 of those who care for someone with dementia experience sleep problems due to disrupted sleep routines, caregiver burden and depression, and physical health status. Moreover, family caregivers’ sleep-problems are often linked to sleep disturbances in the person who is receiving care.
Persistent inadequate sleep can have negative consequences on your brain, negatively affecting your weight, mood, blood pressure, etc. Extended sleep deprivation can have a lasting effect, which research shows may play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease. However, sufficient sleep can help you recharge and re-energize to meet your daily demands.
Getting a Good Night’s Rest
- Follow a consistent sleep schedule.
- Try to get outside at least once a day.
- Be physically active, but do not exercise late in the day.
- Avoid nicotine and caffeine in the afternoon and evening hours.
- Minimize the use of computers, smartphones and other electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime – or make sure to use the nighttime setting.
- Build time during the day to do something you enjoy – a puzzle, a walk, a novel, etc. – so you don’t have to stay up late to enjoy “me” time.
- Let go of your to-do list at the end of the day.
- Seek treatment for allergies, medical conditions or sleep apnea that may interfere with sleep.
Are the day-to-day responsibilities of caring for an older adult getting in the way of a good night’s sleep? ComForCare/At Your Side Home Care can help. Our highly trained caregivers can provide care for just a few hours a week up to 24/7, so you can rest easy.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published July 20, 2017. It has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.