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CARENOTES / Past Carenotes / Discussion Forum

Carenotes

Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 010808
I am having trouble sleeping at nights.  Usually I get so caught up in caring for my ailing Dad, that when it comes time to sleep, I cannot 'wind down'.  Any suggestions on how to go back to getting a good night's rest, would be appreciated.
 
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name: amanda
location:
Date: 08 Jan 2008

Comments

I find that taking even a short, relaxing soak in a warm tub before turning-in for the night to be a great aid.


name:
location:
Date: 08 Jan 2008

Comments

I always enjoy reading and drinking tea before bed time. Getting into a habit of relaxing before bed can be helpful.


name: Ava Ladell
location: Hammond, LA
Date: 08 Jan 2008

Comments

When warm milk doesn't help, I have found Melatonin is great. I take 10mg at night and I wake up feeling very refreshed. Don't start out with that much if you take it. My rheumatologist suggested it as I also have FM. You can get it at the drug store OTC. Hope this helps


name: David Gillaspie
location: Oregon
Date: 08 Jan 2008

Comments

I used a baby monitor when I started caring for my father in law with Parkinson's. It lasted about two weeks, but it was enough to disrupt my sleep for a year. I was new to caregiving and wanted to move into his room so he'd know I cared enough. My wife nixed that idea, so I used the monitor. I argued that since the doctors at the hospital had given him two days to live, and I had volunteered to bring him home for his final days, he deserved my undivided attention. I ran to his room for every snort and snore, every hiccup. I was intent on out-nursing the nurses, if not out-doctoring the doctors. Caregivers can get carried away and I was going to prove them wrong on their two day forecast. The first day I moved his arms and legs for him, which wasn't possible in the hospital with all of the IVs and oxygen and end of life gear around him. The second day I continued moving him, going through what I guessed was a caregiving routine to get him cleaned up and changed up if not bright eyed and bushy tailed. His attitude hadn't changed much since coming home, and it was his last day by most accounts. I sat beside him and talked about one of our shared experiences: Bootcamp, his in the Marines, mine in the Army. I got caught up in the memory of a particular Drill Sergeant and acted out some of his behavior while addressing the troops. My father in law roused out of what I suspected was his final slumber while I recounted the military traditions for recruits. For the next two weeks he snoozed during the day. At night he called me to fluff his pillow, turn down his blanket, rub his feet, wipe his nose, you know, caregiver stuff. It got to where I heard his voice in my sleep. I was in the valley of sleep deprivation and spent my days in a zombie state, not ideal for optimal caregiving. I was very proud that my father in law lasted longer than two days, that he'd come around enough to ask for anything. Once he stabilized, and I was on the fence leaning toward unstable, I turned off my receiver. Without knowing it, I was following the number one rule of caregiving: take care of yourself. Still, like you, I couldn't sleep from worry over my father in law. Then I started stretching out at night, dancing, working out to trick my brain into letting my body rest. I shared my routine with my father in law and we worked out together. I gave him credit for getting me in shape. He said "you're welcome." The two days the doctors gave him lasted five years. Our back and forth caregiving made us both better people.


name: Aaron Marsh
location: Arlington, VA
Date: 08 Jan 2008

Comments

It's a problem many Americans seem to be having lately -- not just caregivers, but other high-stress people who similarly find it tough to "wind down" and just turn off like they used to. I do the same thing myself sometimes, and don't want to just stick a pharmaceutical band-aid on it. There are a lot of traditionally thought of ways to help you fall asleep, like drinking warm milk (not a huge amount, though; you don't need to superfill your bladder and maybe give yourself something else to wake up for!). The other reader's suggestion of drinking some tea and reading/relaxing before bed is another way, but if it's a caffeinated tea it could work against you. You might try an herbal tea or "bedtime teas" like chammomile and mint, which are readily available at the supermarket. Melatonin, an inexpensive supplement you'll find at any Wal-Mart, CVS, etc., has been shown to help people sleep, but in much *lower* quantities than you'll usually find it sold (read more on that from an MIT study at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050308134331.htm). I've also heard that just forming a habit and regular routine before bedtime can help "retrain" your body to lay down and go to sleep when it's time. Even if it's something silly like (1) brush your teeth, (2) close the blinds, (3) get a little glass of water, and (4) get ready for bed and lay down -- something along those lines -- if it's done repeatedly, it just might help your body with that crucial "wind down" so it can let go. Even if you keep having trouble falling asleep, try to get whatever rest you can for your body, mind, and heart. Control your breathing, and breathe deeply; slow your heart rate; imagine sinking deep into a soft, immense cloud. Try to clear your mind of worries and extraneous thoughts, even temporarily -- remember there's nothing you can do about them until tomorrow anyway. You might just drift off asleep, and even if you don't, try to give your body as much of a break as you can and relax as much as possible. I know what you're feeling, and it's just an awful thing to have that anxiety build that you'll be tired because you can't sleep, the hours ticking away. It's hard to start an already tough job when you're tired and not feeling your best to begin with.


name: Mary
location: Texas
Date: 08 Jan 2008

Comments

I find that taking a couple of Advil or tylenol, and reading in a very quiet room, no tv, helps after an hour or two. Please know that you are very normal in not relaxing, many of us out there are doing the same thing, awake and worrying!


name: S. A. Mor
location: Phoenix, AZ
Date: 09 Jan 2008

Comments

I have found that repetitive prayer helps lull me into sleep after a day that should exhaust both mind and body. I am Catholic so praying a rosary works for me but any repetitive prayer should work. Just tell yourself beforehand that it is okay if you only say a few prayers before you fall asleep or you'll be creating a whole new set of problems! (smile) Good luck!


name: Geri Meyer
location: Florida
Date: 09 Jan 2008

Comments

there are several things you can do: 1)buy aromatherapy - lavendar. put a few drops on your pillow, 2 or 3, and breathe in at the spot. 2) listen to classical music for 10 minutes before bedtime 3) if you have an adjustable bed with a massage feature, set it for 30 minutes before bedtime.


name: carol barnett
location: delaware
Date: 10 Jan 2008

Comments

I am not a great sleeper either but I do find that if I write a list of what's on my mind- even little things like having to make a phone call the next day or send a thank you note or take out the trash, it's not on my mind anymore so I don't have to worry about it...that seems to allow me to go to sleep and rest unencumbered without worrying about the details of the next day.


name: fran
location: oklahoma
Date: 11 Jan 2008

Comments

To help "wind down" you might try working a crossword puzzle or playing a game of your liking on the computer. Sounds like work but works for me.


name: Lisa
location: Miami, FL
Date: 11 Jan 2008

Comments

I take a Valerian Root tablet from time to time (for many years now) to help me unwind and it does wonders. It gets me straight to sleep, and feeling fresh in the morning. Ask your doctor. Good Luck.


 







 

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