Caring for an ill or elderly loved one can be a stressful proposition even under the best circumstances. Caregivers balance a demanding array of financial, medical, and emotional responsibilities, and this devotion often comes at the price of sound sleep. If you provide elder care in Douglas County and are experiencing insomnia, there are several steps you can take to promote productive sleep and manage stress.
1. Create and follow your own sleep rituals.
One of the most effective ways to combat insomnia is by establishing sleep rituals. Not only should you follow a bedtime routine, but you should also think about ways to prepare yourself mentally and physically for bedtime as it approaches. In the hour before bedtime, put away your electronic devices, change into your pajamas, and avoid stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine. Creating these rituals is a way of signaling to your body and mind that it is time for sleep. If your senior loved one lives with you and caring for him or her makes it challenging to sleep, consider hiring a live-in caregiver in Douglas County who can care for your loved one overnight while you rest.
2. Create a sleep environment that works on your senses.
Your sleep environment should contribute to a peaceful, calm atmosphere that promotes rest and recovery. One way to think about your sleep environment is by thinking in terms of your senses. It may seem like a small step, but selecting new, cozy bedding can help your body relax in the bed itself. Consider using soothing, cool colors in your bedroom as a visual signal that the space is for rest and peace. If you find that total silence helps you sleep, consider soundproofing the room. Alternatively, white noise machines let you experiment with different sleep-inducing sounds. You can even appeal to your sense of smell by misting your bedding with lavender or chamomile. In a pinch, you can soak a cotton ball in one of these essential oils and leave it on your nightstand.
3. Make time for reflection during the day.
Many caregivers struggle with insomnia because their minds are racing at the time their bodies most crave sleep. To combat this particular issue, set aside some time during the day to reflect on the things causing you stress and to acknowledge your feelings about the stressors. At bedtime, it may be helpful to use a brief guided meditation as preparation for sleep. One effective nighttime meditation is a controlled reflection on the day’s events—while resting comfortably and breathing deeply, you simply scan the day’s events in your mind in fast-forward from start to finish, ending with the visualization of yourself sleeping peacefully.
While these techniques can be helpful in addressing many causes of caregiver insomnia, you should nevertheless see a doctor to rule out a medical cause if your insomnia persists or worsens over time. As with other elements of caregiver health, it is important that you maintain focus on your own health rather than devoting all of your energy to caring for your loved one. With some daily reflection and scheduling, you may eventually find it easier to create the mental space you need for your own wellbeing.
Find the support and resources you need to maintain your own health and ensure the quality of care your loved one receives remains high through Home Care Assistance. We provide Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care in Douglas County, as well as part-time and live-in care for seniors. Learn more about our care services by calling 720-287-1685 today and speaking with a knowledgeable Care Manager.