Getting Your Zzzz’s: How To Guard Against Caregiver Sleep Deprivation
As a caregiver, finding time for self-care can be a challenge.
The needs of the person you’re caring for don’t always follow a predictable schedule so you grab personal time when you can. Of all the self-care tasks, there is probably none more important than sleep. Good, restorative sleep is the foundation to overall good health and well-being. It’s also one of the most elusive things when we get busy or overloaded. They say you can’t pour from an empty cup and as a care giver, it’s important for you to refill your cup on a regular basis. At Classy Pal, we know the love and care you give to others. We also recognize the importance of taking care of yourself. We’ve gathered together some of the best tips for caregivers to that good night’s rest so vital to good health.
Why Sleep Matters
You might think that during sleep, your body is rest, and in some ways, it is. Sleep is also one of the active times in our bodies. Your body is recovering from the day and preparing for the next. And your brain is at one of its most active periods. While you’re sleeping, the brain is hard at work clearing out the toxins and by products of the day’s activity, processing information and storing memories and information. This clearing of toxins is especially important as it is thought to be associated with the onset of dementia.
But, not just any sleep will do. Your body needs good, sound sleep and an adequate amount of it. Sleep actually occurs in stages, each marked by specific patterns and functions. Each one matters. Restorative sleep gives your body time to rest, restore and prepare for the next day. If you’re not sleeping well or getting enough sleep, you may awake feeling groggy or unrested. You might run low on energy during the day. Over time, this lack of sleep can lead to physical and emotional distress.
As a caregiver, you might be tempted to think, “I’ll sleep later.” “I’ll just cat nap when I can.” While there are times you may have to do so, doing it routinely isn’t good for your well-being. Here are some tips to get a better night’s rest and still be the awesome caregiver you are.
Make Time for Sleep
Set a schedule and stick to it as much as you can. Try to go to bed and awaken at the same times each day. Having a bedtime routine helps you to re-establish a healthy sleep pattern. This routine signals to your body that it is time to begin preparing for sleep.
When your mind is busy right up to the time you fall into bed, it’s going to be hard to simply turn it off. Instead, try adding some relaxing activities into your pre-sleep routine. Gentle yoga or stretching, or meditation can help you to relax. As breathe, you’re tapping into your nervous system to activate the relaxation response that leads to sleep.
Surround Yourself in Comfort
Make sure your bedroom is comfortable and invites sleep. Ideally, the room should be cool, quiet and dark. Choose bedding that is soft and breathable. For some people, weighted blanket can help to reduce anxiety and promote deeper sleep.
Plan for Tomorrow
There’s nothing like half-made plans to keep you up. Try to plan ahead when you can:
- Lay out clothes for you and the person you’re caring for.
- Place your keys and any important documents where you can find them.
- Gather any needed personal hygiene or comfort supplies such as an adult bib for mealtimes, personal hygiene items, a wheelchair blanket, or snacks and water.
Try to put all of your items in one place so you can grab and go when it’s time. Classy Pal’s tote bag is a perfect way to keep all of your essentials ready to go.
Consider Monitoring Options
If it’s safe to do so, consider remote monitoring options. These monitors allow you to check on the person you’re caring for without having to get up. This can help you to relax and get a better night’s sleep. If remote monitoring isn’t safe, consider sharing night monitoring with another trusted adult if possible.
Sleep When You Can
If you’re the sole care giver and sleeping through the night is difficult, try to nap when you can. Naps generally disrupt sleep but sometimes you have to sleep when you can. Even a short “cat nap” can re-energize you and help get you through the day.
Let Others Help You
Even care givers need care now and then. If you’re going it alone, it can be exhausting no matter how much you think you’re doing ok. Let others help you whether it’s sitting with your loved one for a few hours or running errands or fixing a meal. Take some time to catch up on sleep, get a haircut or just get some fresh air and sunshine. It’s ok to let others care for you. Check out respite care services. Your local community senior center many have resources or information for respite care services in your area.
You do so much for the ones you care for. Here at Classy Pal, we know the love and care you give to others. Don’t forget to care for you and know that we support you.