Is your sleep disrupted? Possibly and this may even be normal. As a caregiver, you have likely had to face many challenges in recent months. Social distancing, school closures, quarantines, working from home, new schedules or lack thereof ... Dealing with these new living conditions while taking care of your loved one can be a significant source of worries that can affect your sleep.
Whether you are having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, simple actions can make a difference. Adapting them to your situation may take time, but don't get discouraged: this time is necessary to allow you to better manage your stress, your emotions, your physical health and thus sleep better.
Disrupted sleep: what are the signs?
No two nights are the same. We can all have a poor night’s sleep from time to time. But at what point does this become a problem? Amidst the daily whirlwind and current upheaval, you might have difficulty telling the difference between an exception and a recurrent phenomenon.
Recurrence of the following may be a sign of sleep problems:
- You are still tired when you wake up.
- You are dragging throughout the day and yet your sleep habits have not changed.
- You are irritable, get headaches and are sleepy during the day.
- Your sleep is agitated.
Sleep better, one step at a time
There are a variety of actions you can take to get a better night's sleep. The idea is not to incorporate them all into your routine, but instead to implement those that seem accessible to you. Your daily routine is undoubtedly still busy and actions that fit better with your schedule are more likely to stick.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
The rhythm of your life has changed a great deal, so getting up and going to bed at regular times can reset your biological clock, both during the week and on the weekend. Give yourself enough time for the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Unwind before going to bed.
Read, meditate or do breathing exercises … give yourself every chance to find a feeling of relaxation and calm before you go to bed. Repeated every evening, this sleep routine will be a great aid in helping you fall asleep easier. Of course, computers, telephones and tablets should not be included during this period. Ideally, you should stop watching a screen 30 minutes to an hour before you go to bed.
- Waking up in the night
If you wake up during the night and cannot fall back asleep within 10-15 minutes, do a calm activity such as reading, using a night-light if possible, and go back to bed as soon as you feel sleepy.
Preparing for nighttime during the day
Some actions taken during the day can also have benefits on the quality of your night's sleep.
- Your diet
It's no surprise that a healthy, balanced diet and snacks such as fruit or nuts are your allies, unlike coffee, tea or chocolate which, consumed in the afternoon or evening, are known for their stimulating effects. Also give yourself time to digest your food before going to bed; a full stomach can keep you awake.
- Short naps
A 15-to-30-minute nap can help combat your lack of sleep. However, if your nap lasts longer than that, it can disrupt your sleep.
- Daylight and physical activity
While still respecting the more relaxed confinement rules, take a few minutes a day to expose yourself to daylight or to do some exercise. If you prefer to exercise at home, many activities are perfectly doable in small spaces.
- Take care of your mental health
Worries remain despite these actions? To avoid dwelling on them through the night, try to take a moment during the day to take stock of your worries, write your fears in a journal, talk to friends or family ... Dedicating a specific time to your concerns might help you set your worries aside so that you can relax and fall asleep.
Caregiver Support is also here to help you on this journey. Don’t hesitate to contact by email or phone (1 855 852-7784) our counsellors who can help direct you toward solutions and available resources and thus help you get through this period of uncertainty.