All too often, caregivers find themselves struggling to maintain a healthy sleep cycle, and less sleep means lower energy levels and diminished focus. A healthy sleep routine is critical in order to stay invigorated for the demands that caregiving requires. This piece will review three absolutely vital tips on how caregivers can work to maintain healthy sleep habits, which in turn, will help them avoid caregiver burnout.
Sleep Makes You Healthy
In order to be the best dementia caregiver you can be, you must look after your own brain health. This is effectively accomplished through ensuring the necessary amount of sleep. Most experts say that the average adult requires seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Due to the amount of emotional and mental challenges of caregiving, particularly in regards to dementia caregiving, getting the proper amount of sleep can be difficult.
How to Get the Sleep You Need
First off, focus on the variables that you can control. Caregiving may seem like a full-time job, but you need to make sleep a priority by getting eight hours of sleep every night. Limiting caffeine intake later in the day is a good strategy for anyone who experiences difficulty sleeping, but particularly for any dementia caregiver. Lack of sleep may tempt the caregiver into consuming more and more caffeine throughout the day, but consuming more caffeine isn’t necessarily the solution. Massive caffeine intake may not only prevent you from getting a refreshing, deep sleep later, but it will also dehydrate you and cause even more fatigue. Getting exercise, avoiding large meals right before bed and learning the means to cope with stress are three other ways to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Other challenges of dementia caregiving include practicing how to turn off your mind to allow it to rest. Putting on your favorite TV show, watching a movie, or talking with friends are all great activities to allow the mind to decompress. Keep in mind, however, that looking at a screen too close to bedtime can cost you valuable hours of sleep. It’s okay to get your entertainment fix, but try switching to a book or non-screen related activity 1 30 minutes before you go to sleep.
One of the main challenges associated with dementia caregiving in regards to getting enough sleep is insomnia. Studies say that at least two-thirds of dementia caregivers 2 suffer from some form of insomnia. If your insomnia is severe enough, consult a doctor because insomnia can indicate a more serious issue, such as anxiety or depression.
If the aforementioned lifestyle changes don’t dramatically improve long-term brain health, sleep quality and overall well-being for the dementia caregiver, there are medicines you can take for short periods of time. Sleeping pills, as recommended and prescribed by your doctor, are a temporary solution. Preferred prescription sleep medications include Lunesta and Ambien, while stronger medications like Valium and Ativan also require a prescription 3. Medications that treat ailments such as depression or allergies can also induce drowsiness if insomnia isn’t the lone issue, but rather a symptom of another problem. Again, these are short-term treatments, as sleeping medications do have the potential to be highly addictive.
Sleep Increases Dementia Caregiving Performance
Dementia caregivers who receive the right amounts of sleep are better equipped to deal with the challenges that arise during the course of dementia caregiving. During sleep, your brain health increases due to its regeneration 4 of the functions that allow you to retain and learn new information. Crucial aspects of dementia caregiving are understanding the condition of the person you’re caring for, and possessing the capabilities to act in the moment if new variables arise. Sleep provides the caregiver’s brain with the capacity to be as alert as possible in high pressure situations.
In addition to the tangible negative effects like poor decision making and delayed problem solving that lack of sleep has on caregiving, there are less palpable consequences as well. The emotional toll lack of sleep can have on a caregiver can also affect the person they are caring for.
Receiving the proper amount of sleep improves the life of a caregiver, the quality of care for the person they’re caring for, and it allows the caregiver to circumvent the avoidable challenges inherent in dementia caregiving. For more tips on how to get the support you need during dementia caregiving, check out our latest post on the most effective strategies here: https://homecareassistance.com/blog/get-support-need-dementia-caregiving