Chapter 3: Sleep disturbances

Getting quality “zzz”

I didn’t sleep more after I started counselling sessions – I couldn’t because Deanne needed me at night. But I do believe what little sleep I got was better quality – deeper and more restful.

It is important to talk to the healthcare team about any sleep difficulties, either yours or those of the person you are caring for. Try to be as specific as possible about:

  • How much sleep you are actually getting each night.
  • How often you are up in the night providing care, and the reasons.
  • How much you rest during the day.

Together, you and the healthcare team can explore ways to promote sleep and rest. Click the switch button for suggestions to help with both caregiver and care recipient sleep.

For the person who is ill For the caregiver

Pain, shortness of breath, confusion, restlessness, and other symptoms need to be controlled so both of you can sleep. The healthcare team needs to know about symptoms in order to treat them.

It may help to talk to someone. A doctor, nurse, hospice volunteer, social worker, spiritual care provider, counsellor, or other professional may help you find ways to reduce your worries and can connect you with services and supports.

If you are feeling tired, consider planning to sleep whenever the person you are caring for is sleeping, even if that means leaving some chores unfinished. Draw on whatever resources are available to you to help you with household tasks so that you do not become exhausted. If you need to visit a doctor or clinic for a health concern, try not to put off the visit.

Words of wisdom

Many caregivers do not like to take sleep medication because they worry about not hearing the person they are caring for or being too sleepy to be provide care in the night. Talk to a doctor about the possibility of taking a sleep medication if other attempts to promote sleep have failed.

​​ Helpful resources