Caregiver Sleep

5 Sleep Tips for Tired Caregivers

Lack of sleep will make you say and do things you regret. If worry and stress over caregiving are keeping you awake at night, try these ideas:

Do try over-the-counter sleep aids for a few nights to help you establish a better sleep cycle and get the rest you need. These often work as well as stronger sleep medicines available by prescription.

Do try a glass of warm milk, which contains an amino acid that releases relaxing serotonin -- it may lull you into a sleepy state.

Do try a bowl of oatmeal. You'll elevate your blood sugar in a way that triggers sleep-inducing brain chemicals while also getting a natural source of melatonin, which is often used as a natural sleep aid.

Do have a banana. The potassium and magnesium in bananas relax muscles and produce serotonin (associated with relaxation) and melatonin.

Don't count on that relaxing glass of wine or hot chocolate to do the trick. Alcohol can interfere with your ability to attain deep sleep, and hot cocoa contains caffeine.

See 5 foods that help you sleep.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio

4 months, said...

Here is another big don't: Don't subject yourself to blue-rich white light at night-- during sleep time nor 1-2 hours before bedtime. Light at night, with the exception of dim amber or dim red light, is detected by specialized ganglionic cell layers of the retina which sole duty to the SCN master clock of the brain for circadian rhythm is to signal whether it detects light (signal is strongest in blue light detection ~450nm; weakest in amber or red). Within 1.5 seconds upon detection of light, the SCN signals the body it is daytime, and ends duties the body normally (and sometimes exclusively) does at night under dark conditions -- including production of essential melatonin~ a known anti-carcinogen. It is best to give your body the conditions it needs to produce melatonin naturally. No blue light at night, and lots of blue light during the day. This means have breakfast in a sunny window, have a morning walk at 10AM, use computers, tv, iPhones during the day. Sleep in a room so dark you can't see the hand in front of your face. Use dim amber or red night lights for safety where needed. Use room-darkening curtains or wear a sleeping mask. Avoid computers, tv and cell phones 1-2 hours before bed OR use blue-blocking glasses or blue-blocking films on the screens. The correct dosage for over-the-counter melatonin is .3 to 1 mg, and exceeding this dosage could upset the body's natural circadian rhythms and process, and potentially prohibiting the body to respond to it's own melatonin production. Exceptions could be in seniors who might have calcification of the pineal gland. Remember blue light is essential during the day. Blue light is disruptive at night. Research by Drs David Blask and Hill of Tulane showed light at night -- even a streetlight shining in through typical bedroom curtains is enough to shut off natural melatonin production, and can render chemotherapy drugs like Tamoxifen ineffective.

about 3 years, said...

I've started eating a banana befor bed and it really helps! Thank you all for this tip.

about 5 years, said...

I occasionally take prescription Flexerall. It's a muscle relaxant that didn't give me metal mouth, like Lunesta did. I really like it. It really relaxes me, but I have to take it by 6p, or I won't be able to wake up until 8a.

about 5 years, said...

I appreciate any helpful tips I can get. I'm exhausted every day.

about 6 years, said...

Interesting re sleeping aids. I thought they should be prescription to work, as a couple I tried OTC did not work Can you give me any names ?

over 6 years, said...

Did not know about banans and warm milk giving off seratonin. Thanks