Getting enough sleep is one of the biggest lifestyle factors that can improve your wellbeing. Research (and experience) tells us that sleep is very important to our physical and mental health. With enough rest, our brains function better and it’s easier to deal with everyday situations and stresses. However, in a recent survey by Lingraphica, two-thirds of people who care for someone with aphasia reported that their sleep quality has gotten worse since becoming a caregiver. If you aren’t getting enough sleep – or not sleeping well – here are some tips to try:
- Create a routine. Going to bed and getting up at the same times every day help your body to develop a rhythm.
- Do something relaxing before bed. Take a bath, read a book, or relax by the fire.
- Limit screen use right before bed and in the bedroom. The lights from TVs, phones and tablets activate our brains, making it harder to get to sleep.
- Consider your bedroom environment. Most people sleep better in cool rooms with minimal light and noise. Consider blackout curtains or a gentle noise machine to help get to sleep. Evaluate if your pillows and mattress put you in a comfortable sleeping position.
- If you feel like you “can’t shut off your brain” at night, try writing down your thoughts and worries before bed. Getting them on to paper can help get them out of your head.
- Getting regular exercise can improve your sleep quality. However, try not to exercise in the evening.
- Avoid alcohol and heavy meals right before bed. Although they might make you feel sleepy, they can actually make the quality of your sleep worse.
- If you aren’t getting enough sleep because there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done, consider where you can cut corners. Sometimes getting enough sleep is more important than mopping the floor. Give yourself permission to let some things go – at least for now.
If you’ve tried all these tips and still have trouble sleeping, consider talking to your doctor. Professionals can help evaluate why you are having trouble sleeping and check for any medical conditions that might impact your sleep. Even if sleep isn’t an issue, consider joining a caregiver support group. Aphasia doesn’t just affect that one person. It touches the lives of everyone around them. Caregiver support groups can be a great resource for anyone caring for people with aphasia.