The Importance of Sleep

In order to maintain your health and operate at your optimum capacity it is important to get enough sleep each and every night, however, this task is a lot easier said than done. Being a caregiver saddles you with added responsibilities and stressors especially if you are in the sandwich generation. Providing financial and emotional care for both your parents and children is enough to keep anyone up at night.

Medical experts say that you should get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep each night, but statistics reveal many people are getting less than 5 to 6 hours. Not getting enough sleep can affect both your demeanor and your health, leading to weight gain and a constant feeling of slugishness.

When it comes time to go to bed many caregivers use the time they should be sleeping to finish up chores, complete work assignments or watch TV.  Having so many stressors on your plate, it is also easy to bring your stress-related problems into the bedroom. Bringing your stress with you to bed will only further affect your ability to get the rest you require. Before laying down for bed each night, caregivers have to let their stressors go in order to allow themselves to fully relax. The following are just a few helpful tips to help you drift off a little easier, without enlisting the help of sheep.

  1. Make your room a space for relaxation and rejeuvenation. Do not use time in your room to discuss finances or problems with your parents or kids. Use your room as a place to unwind and make it a place of peace and quiet.
  2. Limit your intake of alcohol. Drinking alcohol before going to bed can cause you to rehash the events of the day, keeping you up at night. Drinking also affects your sleep and can make you feel groggy in the morning, lessening your daily performance.
  3. Exercise three to four times a week. Exercise and sleep go hand in hand. People who exercise sleep more sound than those who do not and also feel more awake throughout the day. When it comes to having a direct effect on getting a good night’s sleep, it is best to vigorously exercise in the late afternoon or early evening. This way your body temperature rises above normal for a few hours before bed, and cools down just as you’re getting ready for bed, helping you ease into sleep.
  4. Nap wisely. If you like taking naps throughout the day it is best to nap no later than mid-afternoon and under a half hour. If you nap longer than 30 minutes your body lapses into a deeper phase of sleep, which can leave you feeling groggy when you wake. However if you are extremely sleep deprived and need to sleep longer than 30 minutes it is best to sleep through one complete sleep cycle which is 90 minutes for most people.
  5. Create a sleep routine. Our bodies like familiarity. While it may seem odd to set a bedtime for yourself like you would for your children, a regular sleep schedule helps set your internal clock. Keeping a regular sleep schedule will leave you feeling more alert within a matter of weeks.

Sleep is vital to our existence and getting the recommended amount of sleep will improve your health all around. Set guidelines sorrounding your sleep schedule and you will better rested in no time!

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