Sleep Deprivation for Home Health Aides
February 24, 2012
If you are a caregiver you probably already know this fact from first-hand experience, the researchers from Sleepy’s, the mattress chain, found that home health aides had the most sleep deprived occupation (reported in the NY Times). Many factors most likely contribute to this fact, but the most likely contributors are having the night duty and waking in the night to provide care.
Due to being a caregiver there may be little you can do to get the full eight hours of sleep per night. But there are some things you can do to feel more rested.
Pick a Day to Hibernate: Find one day a week where you can go to bed early and/or sleep late. By getting more sleep one day a week, you can knock off some of the sleep debt and recover some of your lost sleep due to your career as a home health aide.
Take a Nap: Remember the advice everyone gives to new moms, “sleep when your baby sleeps?” In-home caregivers should follow similar advice, sleep when you can. You may only be able to sleep 5-6 hours a night, so supplement that with a nap. And it doesn’t have to be a long nap; 15-20 minutes of sleep can help keep you refreshed. Plan on lying down for 45 minutes to help you relax first and then get the approximate 20 minutes of sleep. Research shows that the best time to nap is between 1-4 pm. But I say, nap when you can!
Exercise: Although it seems counterintuitive, exercise can actually boost your energy. Getting your heart pumping triggers the release of adrenaline, raises blood sugar, and speeds up metabolism which can lead to an energy boost that lasts for several hours. So find time to take a brisk walk or jog.
Don’t Worry: Many people start to stress out that they aren’t getting enough sleep (and the anxiety can cause even more problems). But just relax and know that this is just one phase of life. In fact, sleeping in two smaller bursts used to be a common practice in past cultures. Up until the middle ages most humans had first sleep and second sleep. They would wake up for several hours in the middle of the night, and during that time they would pray, clean house, visit with family members, eat, etc. It wasn’t until after the Middle Ages, when people began to have street lights and more reliable lighting, that humans started sleeping in longer 8 hour chunks.
As an in-home caregiver you may not be able to get a full 8 hours of sleep a night, but there are definitely ways to help you feel more rested.