Why Caregivers Should Focus on Better Sleep

This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation

Being a caregiver, whether for an aging parent or another loved one, has its ups and downs. While most caregivers view their role as a positive experience, it can be a challenge for them to manage their own wellbeing while devoting so much time to caring for someone else.

Not only can your physical health take a hit, but your sleep can, too. In fact, more than one-fifth of caregivers say that they are exhausted when they go to bed at night. You may be more effective in your caregiving role when you’re well-rested, so put shut-eye back on the priority list with the help of these tips.

Call For Backup

Some people who have Alzheimer’s disease experience something that's called "sundowning," which is when confusion and anxiety worsen in the late afternoon and evening. Sundowning can lead to trouble falling or staying asleep. If you’re caring for someone who has this symptom, you’ll likely be kept up at night, as well. Consider getting help a few nights a week—whether its from a professional or another family member or friend—so that you’re able to catch up on lost sleep.

Don’t Duck Doctor Appointments

As a caregiver, you likely spend a great deal of time shuttling your loved one to and from the doctor—but don’t forget to schedule regular checkups for yourself, too. About 72% of caregivers say that they don’t see their physician as often as they should, but this is a great chance to discuss ways to improve your sleep and to identify whether something more serious, such as sleep apnea, could be keeping you up at night.

Make Time to Move

Fitting in daily exercise won’t just improve your sleep; it can also help battle depression, a condition that caregivers have a high risk of developing. While your loved one takes a nap, use that time to do yoga or sweat along with a fitness video—even just 10 minutes of movement a day can help!