773 E. Haverford Road • Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

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Caregiver Health: 5 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

According to the Harvard Medical School publication, Improving Sleep: A Guide to a Good Night's Rest, a good night's sleep is essential for your health and well-being. Getting too little sleep can cause numerous problems. Lack of sleep not only affects alertness and energy, but it weakens your body's defenses against infection, increases anxiety, and boosts your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. It is also a safety issue.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that 1 in 24 adults say they have recently fallen asleep while driving. Overall, sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans of all ages. Caregivers who are caring for loved ones at home, especially if they have Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, are at high risk of sleep deprivation and the many serious health and safety consequences that accompany it. 

As The Mayo Clinic article, “Alzheimer's: Managing Sleep Problems,” concludes, “Your loved one’s sleep is important, but so is yours. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you might not have the patience and energy needed to take care of your loved one.”

A Serious Problem for Busy Caregivers

Monique Carter, RN, Wellness Director at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, says, “As more families are faced with the task of taking care of an aging parent or loved one with a progressive memory disorder, the lack of adequate sleep for caregivers has become a growing problem. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving study on caregiver health risks, 87 percent of Alzheimer’s caregivers surveyed suffered from insomnia.”

“Insomnia and sleep deprivation place caregivers at significant risk for numerous health issues. Experts believe that insomnia is caused by the inability to relax our minds and our bodies – symptoms that are common to highly stressed, overburdened caregivers who might also be responsible for a family and a career. Fortunately, there are several steps that at-home caregivers can take to increase their chances of getting a much needed and well-deserved good night’s sleep.”

Tips for Helping You Achieve the Sleep Your Body Needs

In the Alzheimer’s Association article, “Five Tips to Help Caregivers Get Their Zzzs,” Dr. Lawrence J. Epstein, Associate Physician, Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard University, recommends several useful steps you can take to help you get the sleep your body needs.

  • Set the Right Mood for Sleep – Create a sleep-friendly environment (i.e. a dark, quiet, comfortable and cool room).
  • Don’t Eat Before Bedtime and Avoid Caffeine – Make sure you do not eat at least two to three hours before bedtime, and avoid caffeine or alcohol close to bedtime. In addition, smoking can cause trouble sleeping.
  • Try a Cup of Tea – If you are tossing and turning at night and you cannot fall asleep, try drinking green or chamomile tea before bed or put the scent of lavender on or near your pillow to aid relaxation.
  • Your Bedroom: For Sleep Only! – Use your bedroom as a placefor sleep, not a TV room or an office for work.
  • Stick to a Consistent Sleep/Awake Schedule—Even on the Weekend – Create consistent sleep and awake routines, even on the weekends. Our bodies have internal clocks called circadian rhythms that synchronize our active and rest states with biochemical reactions in our bodies. Circadian rhythms are based on light/dark cycles, with light having the most impact on our ability to get to and stay in restorative sleep.

Ms. Carter adds, “By following these expert tips, you can overcome the common disrupters of sleep, avoid dangerous “sleep debt,” and get the rest your mind and body require for mental, physical and emotional health. Remember, your health and well-being are important, too – as a caregiver and an important human being with a life of your own!”

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Our brand-new Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr community provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comforts of home. Our community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family,” Again

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If, and when, the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again. For more information, please call Sharon at (484) 380-5400, or contact us online.

Disclaimer: This information should not be construed as Impressions at Bryn Mawr Terrace or Main Line Senior Care Alliance offering legal advice. For legal advice, please consult your attorney.