It’s not unusual for family caregivers to get less than the recommended amount of sleep each night. After all, you’re trying to handle the normal responsibilities of your life before becoming a caregiver, and fit in all the new responsibilities that come with your caregiver role. Being a caregiver can leave you feeling exhausted, so it’s only natural to want to “catch up” on sleep when you get a chance. But, is it really possible to catch up on sleep?
Adults need about eight hours of sleep per night. Sleep debt is the accumulating amount of sleep lost when you stay up an extra hour or two, or wake up a little earlier. It’s all those minutes added up. In the short-term, sleep debt can leave you feeling like your brain is foggy. Research indicates that it can affect your vision, your memory, and your ability to drive. When sleep debt goes on for a long time, it can lead to insulin resistance, obesity, and heart disease. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t get enough sleep. On average, they sleep only 6.9 hours per night when experts recommend eight. So, by the end of the week, they’ve racked up five hours of sleep debt.
Catching Up and the Heart
A new study showed that trying to catch up on sleep by sleeping extra hours on the weekend may do more harm than good. The study involved 21,000 participants who had no history of cancer or heart disease. The results of the study indicated that people who “catch up” on two or more hours of sleep on the weekend were more likely to have poor heart health.
The news was worse for women than men because they tend to report more problems sleeping than do men. About one third of people who have serious heart problems, like heart attack, say that their sleep is disturbed during the night. The results of the new study indicate that getting extra sleep on the weekend isn’t enough to make up for the health risks of losing sleep.
Getting Enough Sleep
So, what can caregivers do to avoid increasing sleep debt? Experts say the best thing to do is to stick to a regular sleeping and waking schedule, no matter what day of the week it is. It sounds easier than it is, though. It could take weeks or even months to return to your regular schedule. You may have to start by adding on a few minutes of sleep per night until your body regains its rhythm.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering elderly care in Pacifica, CA, call the caring staff at Aviva In-Home Care. Call today: (415) 795-2203
At Aviva, we also use the latest in health technology to maximize opportunities for communication between all members of our client’s care circles. We utilize nursing oversight to ensure that we are in compliance with physician orders, and that our careplans are being properly administered. Lastly, Aviva is a proud member of The Senior’s Choice, a national network of leading home care agencies that share best practices and focus on continual improvement.
As owner of the business, I also promise to you my direct involvement in your loved ones care, and will always make myself available for feedback and improvements in our service. I look forward to working with you and your loved one on creating a care plan that is perfectly suited to the family's needs. Thank you for considering Aviva as your care partner.