Stressed and being a family caregiver. They often go together and while reaching for a tub of ice cream (yum!!) and spoon at end of a long day might seem like the perfect antidote, you might want to say damn it and put the tub back in the freezer. Sleep doesn’t come easy in times of stress and a heavy loaded stomach doesn’t help.

Think the tortoise and the hare. The hare (ice cream; or your go-to de-stressor) might make you feel satisfied for a very short period, but it’s the tortoise (sleep) that will help recharge you, relax you, help you fight off illnesses and be less irritable. Your family will thank you on this one. But how to get that elusive good night’s sleep?

May I suggest the following:

  • Stick to a sleep schedule including the weekends, and aim for at least 7 hours.
  • If you don’t fall asleep in 20 minutes, take action! Leave the bedroom, read or listen to soothing music. Go back to bed when you feel tired.
  • Try to add a physical activity during the day – just not too close to bedtime. Outside activity is a great way to get exercise, calm the mind and give you a good overall feeling. Hard to fit that in? Try parking at the back of the lot when grocery shopping. Go for a walk outside at lunch.
  • Manage your worries. Yes, a tough one. Try writing a journal before lights out and list the things that are squirrelling around in your head. Then, for good measure, write a least 5 things that you are grateful for today. (gratitude reminds us of how fortunate we are and sets us off to sleep with good feelings)
  • Take stock of your daily living habits – disorganized, too much to do, overwhelmed? Make yourself a priority and see where you can get some help. Are there family members you could delegate tasks to? Hire a pro to help you get your paperwork, calendar and schedule in order. Treat yourself once a week to a massage. Pick up a nice dinner from a nutritious take out place one or two nights a week.

As someone wise once said: “Walk your dog twice a day, whether you have a dog or not”.

The bottom line is, we all suffer from occasional sleepless nights. If it’s becoming routine, see your doctor. Sleep deprivation is serious and needs to be looked after. Take care of yourself. If you don’t – who is going to look after your loved ones?