It is common for live-in caregivers to suffer from disturbed sleeping patterns, as the senior they are caring for has a disrupted sleep/wake cycle themselves. Many caregivers dismiss this because they assume that the poor sleeping pattern is an unavoidable symptom of dementia or aging, or that it is not their place or even selfish to address the issue of their own lack of sleep.
Consistent sleep deprivation has long-term effects that caregivers should be aware of, aside from general sleepiness. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to moodiness or even depression due to the impairment of the brain’s frontal lobe. If this continues, memory loss and cognitive dysfunction also begin to occur. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to diabetes, obesity, and increased risk of diseases and illnesses due to a weakened immune system.
So as you can see, it is important that as a caregiver, you avoid falling into a patter of sleep deprivation.
- Create a sleep-inducing routine for your senior loved one, which involves no stimulating beverages near bedtime, or bright screens such as tablets or TVs 2 hours before bed.
- Talk to your doctor about any medications they are on to ensure that they are not conflicting with sleep.
- Make sure your senior loved one’s bed and bedroom are comfortable.
- Experiment with natural remedies for sleep (for both of you) such as camomile tea or warm milk before bed.
- If you are unable to adjust the disrupted sleep cycle – speak to a doctor.