If you could sneak into a family caregiver’s bedroom at night, you might see them tucked snugly in bed, head sunk into the pillow, eyes closed and the slow, regular breathing would give you a clue they are sound asleep. These moments are few and far between. The caregiver relishes these moments of deep, restful sleep. In these moments, their sleep deprivation is hidden.
Sleep deprivation is one of the most frequent health problems faced by caregivers. They don’t get enough hours in bed to be fully rested, or their sleep is interrupted with being awakened to assist the person they are caring for, from worry about the person they are caring for, or from anxiety about their overall situation and stress.
Sleep deprivation has serious consequences. It can affect you physically, emotionally, and mentally. Here are five surprising ways to tell if you might be sleep deprived:
Feeling hungry. When the brain is low on energy because it is tired, it will look to food for energy. Not getting enough rest can increase the production of ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, in your gut, and you will crave sugary and high fat food.
- Being more impulsive – you find it gets too hard to say “no” to the things you know aren’t good for you – especially food and drink.
- Having trouble seeing. Even eye muscles are affected by lack of rest. Your eyes have to work harder to track well together which can cause double vision.
Here are some little known tips to help you sleep:
- Turn your lights down 2- 3 hours before you go to bed. Being exposed to less light can increase your body’s natural production of melatonin.
- Drink tart cherry juice 2 – 3 hours before bed.
- In the 1 – 2 hours before going to be, avoid eating anything that causes heartburn or makes you go to the bathroom.
These tricks may not work for you and then it’s recommended you talk to your doctor to talk about the various sleep aids to help you get the rest you need.
We can all learn from each other so please share your sleep tips and challenges in the comments below. Thanks!
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May you find peace, hope, and joy in every day.