Sleep is a seriously undervalued resource in most people’s lives. When our oldest daughter was small, she would resist naptime and dreaded having to go to bed because she thought she might miss something important. Most people recognize cranky behavior in infants and toddlers as a good indicator the child needs sleep, but what about you? While you might not have time each day for an afternoon nap, do you get enough sleep at night? If not, you might find yourself feeling tired, irritable, short-tempered or even depressed! And as a Family Caregiver, you owe it to yourself and those you care for to put your best foot forward each day when you get out of bed.
Most people need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to be at their best. This sleep time is necessary for you to function at your best as you care for others. A good night’s sleep equips you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to fulfill your obligations each day.
Your body uses sleep to store energy in cells that will carry you through the next day. While you sleep your muscles, skin, and bones get to rest and rejuvenate. Your digestive system keeps working to flush out what needs to be eliminated and send nutrients to all areas of your body, nourishing and regenerating you physically so you will be ready to go back to work the next day.
Your brain is a little computer in your skull. In order to function at its maximum capacity, your brain must process its daily input and file information where it needs to go, clearing space for the next day’s activities. This happens while you sleep. By freeing up space during sleep time, you may even find your memory improves over time!
Emotionally you will feel more balanced and not as prone to angry outbursts, feelings of depression and hopelessness, or other negative outlooks when you get enough sleep each night. By feeling more rested, you will be able to set the right tone for your day as well as those you care for.
Spiritually, l find that when I feel rested I also feel more aware of God’s presence in my life. I am more focused in my prayer life and when I study God’s Word I am more open to His teachings. God can work better through me when I am equipping myself for His work, and part of that process involves getting enough sleep.
So, what do you need to do to get more sleep? It’s a good question, and the answer is a little different for everyone. Experiment, and try making little adjustments over a period of time. Keep a sleep journal and make notes about what helps you settle down and get your Zzzzz’s.
Here’s my magic formula for getting a good night’s sleep:
- Make your bedroom cool at night, about 65 degrees. It should also be dark and relatively quiet.
- Have a warm mug of unsweetened almond milk at bedtime, with a dash of maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and ginger. It gives you a protein boost that stabilizes your blood sugar through the night. Let me know if you want the recipe!
- Don’t watch TV or look at your iPad or iPhone except for a brief check before you turn off the lights.
- Avoid caffeine after midday or avoid it entirely.
- Go to bed at about the same time each night and get up at a consistent time each morning.
Chris and I hope this information helps you to improve your sleep as well as your days. We also hope you will share with us what works for you. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of Family Caregivers everywhere, one day at a time. We hope you will join the conversation below and share your heart about how to get a better night’s sleep!