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5 Ways To Prevent Caregiver Burnout With Better Sleep

Michelle Seitzer

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You're able to take care of others even better IF you're taking care of yourself. Because, burnout is real for professional and everyday caregivers, like parents, we're sharing 5 ways to get better rest as a caregiver.


Every day as the sun goes down, nearly 44 million caregivers across the country are facing another night of restless sleep. These are unpaid individual (for example, a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks. While science points to healthy rest as the best way to prevent caregiver burnout, it takes intentional micro and macro steps to get there.  


Around-the-Clock Care For Children or Aging Family Members 


"If I'm not the best I can be, I can't give the best to my kids," says Lori Beckstrom, a teacher, mother of four, and Sleep Number® bed owner from Wichita, Kansas.   Beckstrom and her husband have cared for 42 children through the foster care system over the years. Their young son has special needs and requires a higher level of hands-on care throughout the day — and night.   Dr. Wendy Troxel, Clinical Psychologist and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Specialist, acknowledges just how hard it is for caregivers to think of their own needs — particularly, a good night's sleep.   "There's this belief, unfortunately, that if we prioritize our sleep, that we're somehow not fulfilling our caregiving responsibilities," says Dr. Troxel. "But it's quite the contrary. The caregivers absolutely need their sleep in order to fulfill that very challenging role."  



In addition to caring for kids, people caring for grandparents or parents with dementia know that sleep is precious. But dementia doesn't honor bedtimes.   In fact, per the Mayo Clinic, 25% of people with dementia experience disrupted sleep-wake cycles, struggle with extreme anxiety and agitation during the transition from dusk to dark (aka sundowning syndrome)— or have their mornings and evenings mixed up.  


5 Ways To Get Better Rest As A Caregiver

Here's how to fuel quality care through proven quality sleep.  


1. Make Quality Sleep A Priority

Caring for another person means you're always thinking of someone else, to the point where it feels selfish to think of your own needs. Perhaps you're just overwhelmed by all there is to do and you don't feel like you have time to rest. But you are human too, and one of the best ways you can care for yourself is through sleep. Think of how much better you feel—and how much more attentive you can be to your loved one's needs—after a regular good night's rest. Research shows that Sleep Number® bed owners get almost an hour's more sleep per night than the average sleeper.* Make sure the sleep you're getting is the best quality it can be by investing in a quality mattress proven to help.   Mom of four, and Sleep Number® bed owner Suzy Kessler adds, "I want to be the best mother and support for my family. I put those needs before my own. I know that before too long they will be grown and out on their own. I now make getting quality sleep a priority."  


2. Choose Restful Forms Of Self-Care At Night

As evening approaches, do things that will help you wind down. Turn off the news and read a book of poems, or listen to peaceful music. Make a pot of decaf tea or coffee and sip slowly. Journal some thoughts from the day, and write down your to do list, or meditate for a short time. Take a warm (not hot) shower. The reason to avoid a hot shower is that your body dumps heat as it prepares for sleep; so if you're raising your body's temp it's going to take your body longer to get into sleep mode (aka fall asleep). Sit on your deck or porch and watch the sunset. Pet your cat or dog and do some gentle stretches or yoga poses.   Power down your brain and your body will follow. For more tips to create a bedtime routine that improves has 82% of participants improving their sleep quality and 74% changing a poor sleep habit, try the free Sleep30 Challenge by Sleep Number.  


3. Do Something That Helps Both Of You To Sleep Better

If your young child or grandchild enjoys a bath at nighttime, make it a peaceful part of your routine too. Dim the lights in the bathroom. Use Epsom salts for soaking and essential oils to soothe the senses. Play calming music. Soak your feet while you oversee your child's time in the tub. Caring for a parent or older loved one who loves music? Relax together with a favorite evening playlist. Put comfy slippers on and get a cozy blanket or heated neck wrap while you listen.  


4. Keep The Bedroom A Sacred Space For Sleep

Don't let worries about work or anxieties about appointments follow you to the bedroom. Leave your laptop in your home office or another devoted work space in the house.   Turn your bedroom into a calming and comfortable space with blackout curtains, turning the temperature down to 65-67 degrees and a Sleep Number® smart bed that's there for you at the end of a long day.   "I made a small pact with myself to start trying to do things for me that make me happy. Such as find time for massages and other relaxation," said special education teacher and Sleep Number® bed owner Jenny Ingram.  


5. Focus On Rest, Not Sleep

There's no guarantee you'll get a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep as a caregiver, so let go of the idea that you have to. Think about quality: not so much the when, but the how and where. Read more about how sleep affects us and what Sleep Number is doing to lead sleep science research and product development on Sleep Number's sleep science hub.   "We bought our first Sleep Number bed in December 2011 and the most recent additional one in December 2019," said licensed clinical social worker and Sleep Number® bed owner Anthony Weiss. "We love that the bed adjusts to our needs throughout the night to ensure the most comfort and quality sleep. Likewise, we like that it can be controlled by our phones now... gotta admit that's pretty fun!"  


Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal well-being and performance. Because everyone's sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® smart beds, with SleepIQ® technology inside, sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night's sleep.

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