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Caregiver Sleep - Moving into Sleep

Hello Everybody! I am so glad you are here with me today. I am the Proactive Caregiver and I specialize in educating others on how to be proactive by empowering You, the caregiver. If you cannot take care of yourself, then you cannot take care of your loved one.

According to the NAIC report released in early 2020, prior to the world-wide chaos resulting from the Corona Virus, the increase of caregivers went up by 10% from 42 million in 2015 to 53 million in 2020. The life of a caregiver is filled with many pressure points of worry, stress, anxiety, and fears among other things. When it comes to being able to relax for the day to get restorative sleep in hopes of recharging our mental batteries, detox our bodies, and reset for another day of care, it's easier said than done.

In our previous episode with Dr. Joy Poskozim we discussed issues around sleep apnea. Now I want to take a deeper look with today's guest. Whether you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or purchased a mouth guard or MAD (Mandibular Advancement Device) as a preventative measure, you might still be struggling with the ability to fall asleep. It may not be considered an art form for some people but sometimes it does take a bit more effort.

That's why I asked Oliver Halviala to help me with techniques of falling asleep to achieve regular restorative sleep. Oliver is a man of many talents with a Master of Fine Arts, Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner, Certified Neuro-physical movement educator, and author, who is living in Helsinki, Finland. His decades of practice, study, and research of neuro-physical movement have culminated in the creation of the Moving into Sleep Method. This is a revolutionary approach for inducing sleep and improving sleep quality by doing gentle sleep-inducing movements.

I have had days when I begin with meditation and yoga to maintain a calm day as I care for Mom yet conclude the night with even more worries on my mind than the night before. I go through the self-talk by repeating conversations in my mind from therapy sessions and yet I still lay on my pillow at times for 30 minutes or more waiting for my sleep stages to begin. The next day I decided that I will have a glass of wine with dinner so I can relax more before bedtime. I fall asleep sooner than usual but wake the next day feeling groggy and wanting more sleep and a tall cup of coffee. Since my routine is created around meeting Mom's needs I know more sleep will have to wait.

Other factors were involved in Mom's mixed Dementia but chronic insomnia was keeping her brain from repairing on a regular basis. When you push a car without routine maintenance until the check engine light comes on you bound to have many more problems with costly repairs than just getting a tune-up. Mom pushed until she could not push on her own anymore. Congestive heart failure and a degenerating brain became a need for far more than a basic tune-up. She lived in quite the opposite way with bad nutrition, high stress, and chronic insomnia.

At this point, I am reminded of those I have heard say "I'll sleep when I'm dead" or "I don't need much sleep, maybe 3 or 4 hours a night." I realized I am starting to fall prey to that mentality as my body starts to experience the side effects. Headaches from lack of sleep followed by poor concentration and feeling sluggish or low on energy altogether.

When we are unable to achieve restorative sleep on a regular basis it speeds up the aging process by not allowing our bodies to repair, restore, and grow. Caregivers need every minute of restorative sleep to continually recharge. Instead, like me, we find reasons why we can't give ourselves this much-needed form of self-care. We sabotage our own health and well being to willingly sacrifice for our loved ones. Unfortunately, this is why many caregivers often pass before their loved one or shortly thereafter from being depleted of the essentials for regenerative cells, tissue, and nerves.

Adults need 7 to 9 hours of restorative sleep. During an 8-hour nightly sleep, adults on average get roughly 1 to 2 hours of deep sleep also referred to as Delta sleep, Slow-wave sleep (SWS), and REM sleep. It is the most important of the 4 stages of sleep. Rapid Eye Movement is when our eyes move in all directions during the 4th stage of sleep. From light sleep or the first 3 stages of sleep (Alpha, Beta, and Theta) the brain slows down along with the heart rate and blood pressure. Breathing slows, becomes steady, and muscles are relaxed even though movements still do occur.

Dreaming occurs only during REM sleep. During REM sleep the heart pumps less blood to the body and more to the brain as our internal reboot. The sympathetic nervous system is active, stimulating the production of adrenaline, the "stress hormone." Our bodies use this stress hormone for the moments of flight or fight which help us get through our days from all sorts of life scenarios.

The sleep stages alternate from REM back to Non-REM over 4 to 6 90 to 110-minute cycles over the course of a night. During this time our bodies repair and grow cells, tissue, and nerves that regenerate while boosting the hormone and immune system. Good nutrition, stress reduction, and restorative sleep it is vital for optimal physical, mental, and emotional health. IF this is not happening regularly for you then your brain and heart are suffering far more than you know.

If you are struggling with falling asleep then consider the following list of proactive approaches:

  • Sticking to a regular bedtime and rising time to train the body when possible.

  • Get lots of daylight but avoid bright light before bedtime.

  • Use your bed only for sleeping or lovemaking but try to avoid reading or watching tv in your bed.

  • Try to avoid naps during the day unless it's absolutely necessary (i.e. sick, recovery from procedures)

  • Get plenty of exercises every day by walking, stretching, or engaging in yoga practices.

  • Take a warm bath or listen to soothing music before bed.

  • Avoid overly stimulating television or movies before bed that would affect your deep dream stage with nightmares.

  • Eat properly or heart health-wise and avoid excess caffeine and all beverages after dinner.

  • Make sure your bed is comfortable in a dark and quiet room with a comfortable temperature.

  • Make a list with items in your mind before bed, whether you journal or create a numerical list, to empty your mind from the day and tomorrow's expectations.

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