My siblings and I are caregivers and since the weekend we have stepped up our efforts to support our elderly parents.
Without going into a lot of detail for privacy reasons, it was my turn to spend the night in the hospital this past Sunday night. I have done this before but it has been a long time and I had forgotten the impact of the variety of noises that can keep you awake: the machines, the cleaning staff, the nurses, and the constant switching on and off of lights. This is not a criticism of the hospital; they have important, life-saving work to do and a lot of it gets done at night.
Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep. The night at the hospital reminded me of the times when I took care of my husband when he was ill and also brought back to me the value of getting a good uninterrupted block of sleep.
Sleep is incredibly healing!! Most of us need at least eight hours of sleep a night but nearly 50% of Americans get less. To me it’s rather scary that so many people are trying to live sleep deprived lives but it also explains some behavior I see during the day if you know what I mean. I have heard some people talk about their lack of sleep as though it’s a measure of their toughness, almost as though it’s macho to hardly sleep at all and still go about your busy life. I don’t think that works well at all and usually comes back to bite you.
Care giving, grieving and other times of dealing with life’s stresses can rob us of our ability to fall asleep and peacefully stay asleep. Our minds and our emotions are all over the place and it’s hard to figure out how to settle down and get a healthy snooze.
Naps are always the best idea for trying to catch-up on your sleep and even a 20-minute nap can give you an energy boost. Unfortunately, naps during the week not an option for me since I work full-time. My way of catching up is to go to bed earlier than I usually would. Sometimes this happens naturally because I am reading or watching television and find myself falling sleep on the couch.
We are all doing the best we can and remembering to find a quiet, dark place to fall asleep helps us continue to do what we do best. Taking care of yourself is not being selfish. When you keep yourself healthy and rested you have renewed energy, your mind can focus and you feel you can move forward.
I think that’s why people say after getting a night of fantastic sleep that they feel like a new person!!