Being a caregiver is not an easy role. It can take an emotional, psychological and sometimes physical toll on people. It’s vital for caregivers to take care of themselves first in order to properly take care of their patient. Getting enough sleep is one of the most important factors in maintaining good health, but getting too much, too little, or bad quality sleep can be detrimental on the body and mind. Most importantly, people who aren’t getting the right amount or quality sleep can suffer from a decline in cognition.
How Much Sleep Should I Be Getting?
For men and women aged 45–69 it’s ideal to get around 7 hours of sleep. Women who get 7 hours of sleep show the highest level of cognition and for men, their level of cognition doesn’t really change if they get between 6-8 hours of sleep a night. For both men and women, however, getting less than 6 hours or more than 8 hours of sleep each night were associated with lower mental performance.
Risks of Low Quality Sleep
REM(rapid eye movement) sleep is one of the most vital aspects to having a good nights rest. REM sleep is important because it is the restorative part of our sleep cycle where you dream the most and where your body and mind is fully at rest. If you aren’t getting enough sleep the risks to your health go beyond having slower mental processes. Bad sleeping habits can increase the risk for obesity and diseases such as diabetes. Having poor sleep is also commonly associate with having a poorer quality of life as well as a shorter life expectancy.
Tips for Better Sleep
Create a Schedule
Going to bed and getting up at scheduled times sets something called the circadian clock into a rhythm. This allows the body to adapt to a natural schedule and keeps sleep patterns uniform.
Watch What You Eat
It’s recommended not to eat for at least 2-3 hours before you try and go to sleep. Eating too much may make you less comfortable when settling down for bed. It’s also wise to avoid spicy foods and overly heavy meals before you go to bed.
Watch What You Drink
Drinking caffeine should be avoided before bed. That means drinks such as coffee, non herbal teas, chocolate milk and energy drinks are a no go when getting ready for the night.
Get Regular Exercise
It’s important to exercize for 20-30 minutes everyday to help improve sleep. It’s important to note that one shouldn’t exercize too close to bed time as it can actually interfere with sleep as the body takes a long time (sometimes 6 hours) to cool down.
Establish Relaxation Rituals
Having a bath, reading a book, listening to relaxing music, meditating or drawing are all great ideas to help you get your body relaxed and ready for the nights sleep.
Keeping a Sleep Friendly Room
The mattress, pillow and blanket should be selected for your comfort levels. Keep the temperature between 19-21 degrees Celsius (extremes can disrupt sleep). One may also want to consider using an eye mask, ear plugs or blackout blinds to help with having an uninterrupted sleep.
Deep breathing can help calm the body and mind. Try deep, slow abdominal breathing before bed, counting each breath up to ten and starting over.
Don’t Lay There
It usually takes between 20-30 mins to fall asleep. If it’s not working in that time try reading a book, watching tv or listening to relaxing music until you feel tired.