by Dr. Marla E. Jirak, Owner, CoachSmart Consulting, LLC
A 2021 article by the Sleep Foundation indicated that adults between 18 and 64 need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Approximately, 35.2% of adults receive less than 7 hours of sleep per night.
Varying studies have documented that approximately 70% of caregivers for people with dementia report sleep problems, 60% report sleeping less than seven hours, and 10 to 20% use alcohol or sleep medication to get to sleep.
According to California Caregiver Resource Centers, 41% of caregivers said they are awakened during the night by the care receiver. These same caregivers also scored higher on the depression screening.
If you’re a caregiver suffering from sleep deprivation and struggle with falling asleep, staying asleep or getting quality sleep, here are four tips:
MODIFY YOUR SLEEPING ENVIRONMENT
Limit light exposure — close blinds, turn off all lights inside, outside the bedroom and consider an eye mask. Setting a bedroom temperature between 60 to 67 degrees encourages better quality sleep. Limit noise and avoid watching TV or playing video games. Avoid blue light from digital devices.
PROMPT SLEEP WITH GOOD HABITS
While drinking alcohol may drop you into a slumber, it won’t keep you asleep all night. Try some gentle stretching, reading or listening to relaxing music or guided imagery to attain a more restful frame of mind and promote more restorative sleep. Keep your sleep cycle to a regular schedule.
PREP FOR DAILY TASKS
Many caregivers indicate they are unable to fall asleep due to thinking about endless items needing to
be added to their mental to-do list. Preparation is key. Compile a written to-do list before going to bed with the next day’s tasks and paperwork needed for any appointment. Put together a small care packet for the car that includes snacks, water, any needed medicine, as well as a place for important documents like insurance and ID card.
SET UP REMOTE MONITORING
There can be a benefit from using remote monitoring technology. These camera devices can be set up
in the individual’s room, allowing you to check on them on mobile apps or mobile monitors without having to get out of bed.
Baby monitors also are helpful to allow you to listen to someone or see live video.
Lastly, the National Institutes of Health have published a free booklet, Your Guide to Healthy Sleep, which can be downloaded from www.nih.gov.