Insomnia and Elder Care: Are You Stressed?
Insomnia is a medical condition characterized by difficulty sleeping. There are many causes and contributing factors to insomnia. In this blog, we will go over some common symptoms of insomnia and some causes. This will be relevant to family caregivers and aging individuals alike. Why? Because 1) as you age, your body may go through changes and negatively impact the quality of sleep you get; and 2) stress and mental illness can also impact your sleep. If you are a family caregiver, you are likely experiencing a lot of stress, which may mean this article applies to you, too.
Signs and Symptoms
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of insomnia may include:
- Difficulty sleeping at night
- Waking up frequently at night
- Waking up too early
- Feeling tired constantly
- Sleepiness during the day
- Decreased ability to pay attention
- Making mistakes or getting into accidents more frequently
- Worrying about sleep
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or a combination thereof, you should visit a doctor. A doctor might refer you to a sleep center to get evaluated to find out more information.
There are a variety of factors that contribute to insomnia. Here are just some to consider:
- Emotional distress
- Physical aches and pains
- Interference in sleeping schedule (as a result of traveling, for example)
- Neurological disorders (like Restless Leg Syndrome or degenerative diseases)
How can you treat insomnia?
For insomnia caused by external factors, you usually have to treat those underlying conditions. For instance, your doctor may recommend behavioral therapy to help you identify habits that you can change in order to promote sleep. Therapy like this may teach you relaxation techniques, time management techniques, and steps to help condition yourself to sleep at appropriate times. If necessary, your doctor might prescribe sleeping medications.
There are also some habit changes that may come into play in order to promote sleep. For instance,
- Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol in the evening
- Exercising regularly, but not too close to bedtime as it might energize you and keep you awake
- Avoiding heavy meals right before bed
- Avoid bright screens before bed because the “blue light” emitted from phones, e-books, televisions, etc. may
- Set a routine and create a bedtime so your body can learn to become sleepy at a certain time
- Don’t use your bed for anything but sleep and sex
- If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do a relaxing activity, like breathing or reading, until you feel sleepy
- If your mind is worried about bunch of different things, create a list of your thoughts, set it on your nightstand, and forget about them—those thoughts will still be there in the morning!
ElderCare at Home hopes that these tips are useful to you. If you are a family caregiver, then you likely have a lot of responsibilities to juggle. As a result, you may feel stressed, which may ultimately impact your sleep. Be sure to be active about your sleep and get at least 7 to 8 hours of it per night. Sleep is essential to life, so make sure you prioritize it! If you have questions, call ElderCare at 888-285-0093.
 Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/symptoms-causes/dxc-20256961