This is a subject that I am intimately familiar with – for over 20 years I ran complementary therapy projects for carers – who rarely take care of themselves! – and have been a carer myself.
A carer is nearly 100% focused on the person they may be caring for – a child, spouse, elderly relative or even a neighbour. The rounds of caring – to say nothing of taking care of the rest of one’s life – becomes a seemingly endless round of running and sacrifice….to the detriment (and often frustration) of the carer.
A typical day for a caregiver might include on-the-job stress in the morning, a rush to a doctor’s appointment for your mother at lunchtime and battling bottle necked traffic in the evening only to come home and figure out what to cook everyone for dinner. By this time, your muscles feel achy and you crave the comfort and security of your bed, but when it’s time to turn in, once again you can’t fall asleep. Some caregivers exert enough energy during the day to power a small nuclear submarine, but sleep deprivation is a common problem among a large percentage of caregivers.
You find yourself balancing your cheque book mentally, wondering if your boss actually meant what he said and if the planet is really going to run out of clean drinking water. All the traditional sleep techniques have been exhausted: you drank warm milk, ate a bedtime snack, avoided caffeine and took a hot bath. You may have even tried counting those sheep, but to no avail… yet another sleepless night.
If common sleep-inducing measures don’t work for you, it’s time to try some unconventional methods. Keep an open mind; after all, the name of the game is falling asleep!
- March of the toy soldiers. Fill your bathtub ankle deep with cool water and march around in it for a few minutes – make sure you have a mat in the tub so you don’t slip! This is a proven form of hydrotherapy for sleeplessness.
- A room with a view. Visualize something peaceful like dancing butterflies.
- Time to exercise. If you can’t sleep, tell yourself you have to get up and go running, you’ll be asleep in no time.
- Herbal teas. Try one of the many herbal teas that help you relax. They could be a safe and effective alternative to traditional sleeping pills..
- Soothing sounds. Listen to a downloaded audio recording with the sounds of nature like water flowing, rain falling and ocean waves rolling onto shore. It’s a form of audio therapy and it tends to relax you.
- Sleep Scents: Try soothing scents in a burner 30-40 minutes before going to bed; lavender, orange, chamomile are just a few of the oils that can relax you and help you fall asleep. Your nose knows….so let it guide you to the right oil(s)!
Just give at least one of these non-traditional ideas a try. You are a caregiver and the last thing you need is to fight with your pillow another night.
If nothing seems to be working for you, consider seeing a doctor. It could be more than just anxious thoughts keeping you from snoozing.