Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Unfortunately, getting a full night’s rest can be a challenge for caregivers.
Your loved one might need you at all hours throughout the night, which can interfere with your ability to get the recommended shut-eye. And once you’re back under the covers, you might stay up worrying about their comfort levels or the future.
You might believe your sleep quality is a small price to pay to look after a loved one in palliative care. But chronic sleep disturbances can impede your ability to look after your family while negatively impacting your own health.
What Can You Do to Improve Your Quality of Sleep?
Solving your sleep problems can seem like a tall order, but most sleep specialists believe simple habits before bed can help you sleep better and for longer. These tips run the gamut from caregiving hacks to sleep hygiene tricks.
Outsource Nighttime Palliative Care
If your sleep is constantly disturbed because you have to check on your loved one in the middle of the night, consider reaching out to a professional palliative care service for help. These at-home health care agencies can send a qualified and compassionate medical professional to cover overnights.
Palliative care agencies provide flexible services, partnering you with a nurse or Personal Support Worker (PSW) for as long as you need. You can opt for overnight shifts to fill in the gaps in your schedule, or you can request a live-in caregiver to look after your loved one at all times.
Whatever level of care you choose, you can sleep better knowing there’s a compassionate and experienced professional looking after your loved one.
Avoid Stimulants Before Bed
Like most sleep-deprived people, many caregivers survive off caffeine to help them get through the long days and even longer nights. Unfortunately, your six o’clock cup of coffee could keep you up at night.
Sleep specialists suggest you avoid anything with caffeine at least six hours before your bedtime. That includes green tea, chocolate, pop, and energy drinks.
Don’t Bring Your Phone into Bed
The blue light shining from your phone can disturb your sleep on the best of nights, even if you aren’t a full-time caregiver. It disturbs your circadian rhythm and tricks your body into staying up for longer. It doesn’t help that your phone is full of distractions that can delay you turning out the lights, so try to avoid using your phone an hour before bed.
Have a Bath
Research shows taking a bath can help you fall asleep. Besides being a relaxing way to unwind, there’s science behind their claims — a hot bath raises your temperature, which causes your body to cool down. This drop in core body temperature is one of the natural signals your body needs before falling asleep.
Find a Way to De-Stress
Anxiety over the future can be the biggest obstacle standing in the way of a good night’s sleep. If you can’t turn your thoughts off at night, consider the following ways to handle stress:
- Talk to a mental health professional
- Join a caregiver support group
- Take time to meditate throughout the day
- Walk or exercise every day to burn off restless energy
Don’t assume you can live without sleep while caring for a loved one. Getting your full night’s rest gives you the energy and mental stamina you need to look after your family.