July is Sandwich Generation month, and we’re honoring it here on the Griswold blog by talking about the people who care for both an aging parent and dependent children. Many caregivers, especially those in the sandwich generation, with two generations that rely on them — don’t get enough sleep or do not get enough quality sleep for seven or eight hours a night. Jam-packed schedules, the stress from all that responsibility, and interrupted sleep can lead to significant sleep deprivation. If you’re struggling to clock consistent, restful sleep, try these tips for better sleep:
- Find your number. Everyone needs a different amount of sleep each night in order to feel rested. Most adults need seven to eight hours a night. Figure out what your magic number is, and plan around it.
- Stick to a schedule. If your wake-up and fall-asleep times differ from day to day, your body can get confused about when it’s supposed to be asleep. Stick to a regular schedule as much as possible, even on weekends.
- Make your bedroom a relaxing haven. Encourage your brain to associate your bedroom with relaxation and sleep. It will be helpful to remove things that can keep you awake like cell phones, TV and a computer. If you have difficulty falling asleep, drink caffeine-free tea or milk before going to bed, have a soothing book to read or listen to quiet, relaxing music. Hang a sign on the door that tells people you are asleep!
- Limit alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. Avoid these substances before bedtime. Each can make it tough to fall asleep or make sleep restless.
- Exercise. Exercise is one of the best ways to promote sleep. To see the benefits, you don’t even have to hit the gym: go for a daily walk, try a yoga DVD, or go hiking with a friend.
- Use the right pillow and mattress. Your bed should be comfortable. Make sure that your mattress provides the right amount of support, and that you are using pillows designed for the way you sleep.
- Get some relief from caregiving. It’s important for your health that you have time to relax and recharge. Get assistance from a family member, even if it’s just a day or two a week. Take advantage of adult day programs at your local senior center. Or hire an in-home caregiver for temporary respite care or even for a few days a week to take some of the pressure off.
If your caregiving duties are overwhelming, and what you have been sacrificing is taking care of your own needs– such as getting enough sleep — it can lead to caregiver burden. In order to care for others, you have to care for yourself first. Sleep is not a luxury — it’s a necessity.
Did you use any of the above tips to get a good night’s rest? Tell us which one worked the best in the comments below!