As carers, we may have immediate needs such as taking breaks, getting sleep, eating properly or exercising. We may have longer-term needs such as building fulfilling relationships, pursuing hobbies or developing careers. Caring always involves an element of putting our own needs aside. However, it’s important that we look after ourselves too, so we can keep going as carers, and because we are individuals whose needs are just as valid as those of our loved ones.
The importance of sleep
We all need sleep. It is a vital part of our daily life and keeps us healthy, both physically and mentally.
If you’re a carer, you may be having broken or not enough sleep. Occasionally, having a disturbed night will affect you the following day, but if you are having trouble sleeping for longer than a night or two, then everything will seem harder.
You may find that you are constantly tired, go to sleep during the day, have trouble concentrating and making decisions, and start feeling depressed. Long-term lack of sleep may also increase your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
Carers can often find it difficult to have a good night’s sleep, especially if the person you care for needs help or disturbs you in the night. Caring for someone brings extra pressures, such as money worries, emotional worry, isolation, and having no time to yourself.
All of these can contribute to stress, which can make it hard to get to sleep, and keep you awake at night. People who are feeling anxious or depressed also often experience sleep problems. Talk to your GP if you have trouble sleeping, as they can give you advice to help with this.