Nighty-Night: Bedtime Rituals for Caregivers

August 28, 2009 at 2:27 pm Leave a comment

As challenging as it is for caregivers to get their day off to a good start, it’s even more important (and sometimes difficult) to create bedtime rituals that help you and your care buddy fall and stay asleep. My mother had sundown syndrome for much of the last two years of her life. She was living with my family and me, and it seemed that as soon as it hit six p.m., my mother came alive. Not only alert, but downright ornery.

I did my research and found a few ideas that would help, but I also found that creating a bedtime ritual both of us could depend on triggered our minds and bodies to begin to relax. Sleep deprivation is downright dangers when it comes to driving and dispensing meds, not to mention it’s unhealthy and can lead to all kinds of health problems.

Start early in the day, and even prepare for a good night’s sleep.

Bedtime Rituals for Caregivers:

  • Create a peaceful room.Declutter the bedroom. Even if you can only box items up and deal with them later, create a serene environment. Consider moving the TV out of your bedroom if you’re using it as a crutch and staying awake an extra hour. An hour’s sleep is a big deal!
  • Make it dark. If you can’t sleep, then make sure your room stays dark all night. Get a motion sensor nightlight that will stay off unless you get up to make a potty run. Invest in light blocking curtains or shades.
  • Consider a porta-potty for your care buddy. If your spouse/parent can get out of bed themselves, then don’t risk them falling in the middle of the night. Rent or buy a porta-potty and place it next to the bed. This practical item can make life so much easier.
  • If you have to get up, then build it into your routine. If you know your care buddy needs to potty in the middle of the night, then plan for it. The quicker it is, and the more regular it is, your body will adjust and be more likely to allow you to fall back asleep.
  • Nix the caffeine and sugar. Now, I’m a coffee-junkie, so I limit myself to two cups in the morning of the real thing, and then I rinse out the pot. Curtail all liquids after 7 p.m. Sugar addiction is a cul-de-sac. You eat, you crash, you eat again. Replace sugary treats with diet jello, and sugar-free ice cream or sherbert. Even better, reach for a piece of fruit or air-popped popcorn.
  • Don’t fall for manipulation. My mom was worse than any three year-old when it came to bedtime excuses. I had to be firm and consistent.
  • Does your care buddy need a care buddy? My mother admitted to me that she didn’t want to sleep alone. She shared her bed with my dad for 52 years. I bought her a body pillow for comfort, and that helped. Your loved one may like a teddy bear or some other form of comfort.
  • Create a night-time ritual that makes your loved one feel safe and loved. Prayers, a song, listing 3 things you’re grateful for, talking about what you have to look forward to the next day, tucking in the covers–all these gestures prompt our bodies to relax. It’s not just children that need night-time rituals. We all do.
  • If you’ve tried everything under the sun and your nights are still crazy, then do the best you can. Sometimes all the hints and all the rules don’t help. It’s a battlefield and you have to get by any way you can. Sleep when you can and make your days as easy as possible. If you hit a bad jag, then hold on, it won’t last forever. 

You’ll get to where you look forward to your nightly rituals as much as your loved one does. Ending our day with a sense of peace and closure is a way to honor ourselves. Forget falling asleep on the couch. Take a bath, put on your jammies and read a story together. Night-time routines make for great memories–at any age.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving, sundown syndrome. Tags: , , , , .

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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