Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Night Relief for Tired Caregivers/Sleep Deprivation

Your overall health and well being are directly impacted when you don't get enough sleep. You will find that your immune system will begin to fail you and your will catch more colds and viruses. If you continue to ignore your body's need for sleep, more serious complications can arise.

Sleep deprivation occurs when an individual fails to get enough sleep. The amount of sleep that a person needs varies from one person to another, but on average most adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep each night to feel alert and well rested. Teens need an average of about nine hours of sleep per night, and children need nine hours of nightly sleep or more, depending on their age.
Causes are varied and sometimes difficult to identify.

␣ They may include some of the following:

1. Personal obligations Sleep deprivation can occur when personal obligations restrict sleep time. For example, a person may lose sleep while providing home care for a relative with a chronic illness (my own recent experience).

2. Work hours The work hours required by some occupations can produce sleep deprivation. Many people who work night shifts have trouble sleeping during the day.

3. In some cases,sleep deprivation may be a symptom of an ongoing sleep disorder or other medical condition that disturbs sleep.

The primary effect of sleep deprivation is excessive daytime sleepiness. A sleep-deprived person is likely to fall asleep when forced to sit still in a quiet or monotonous situation, such as during a meeting or class, or even sitting in traffic in a warm car. This degree of severe sleepiness can be a safety hazard, causing drowsy driving and workplace injuries. The other effects of sleep deprivation are widespread and may include any or all of the following:

o Irritability
o Anxiety
o Lack of motivation
o Symptoms of depression
o Lack of concentration
o Attention deficits
o Reduced vigilance
o Longer reaction times
o Distractibility
o Lack of energy
o Fatigue o Restlessness
o Lack of coordination
o Poor decisions
o Increased errors
o Forgetfulness

In addition, sleep deprivation has been associated with an increased risk of these medical conditions:

o High blood pressure
o Obesity
o Heart attack
o Diabetes

Severe sleep deprivation has even been associated with an increased risk of age-specific mortality.

Coping Strategies

The only sure way for an individual to overcome sleep deprivation is to increase nightly sleep time to satisfy his or her biological sleep need; there is no substitute for sufficient sleep.

The following strategies may provide a short-term benefit to reduce the effects of sleep deprivation. They are not a long-term solution, however, and they may not restore alertness and performance to non-sleep-deprived levels.

1. Caffeine: Caffeine is arguably the most commonly ingested stimulant, as it is used regularly by 80 percent of adults in the U.S in liquid, tablet or gum form. It can provide improved alertness and performance at doses of 75 mg to 150 mg after acute sleep restriction. Higher doses are required to produce a benefit after a night or more of total sleep loss. Frequent use of caffeine can lead to tolerance and negative withdrawal effects. Some individuals seem to get great benefit from those "Five Hour Energy" drinks...lots of caffeine there.

2. Sleep prior to deprivation: Getting extra sleep before a period of sleep loss, known as a “prophylactic nap,” may decrease some of the negative performance and alertness effects.

3. Naps during deprivation: During a period of sleep loss a brief nap of 30 minutes or less may boost alertness. It can be difficult to awaken from a longer nap, which also can produce severe grogginess, or “sleep inertia,” that persists after waking up.

4. Caffeine and a nap: The beneficial effects of naps and caffeine may be additive; the combination of a nap prior to sleep deprivation with caffeine use during sleep deprivation can provide improved alertness over a longer period.

All this being said, it is imperative that children and adults get enough sleep.

I have recently been in the position of being full time caregiver. My "patient" was getting me up two to three times each night, and I was unable to get back to sleep in less than an hour. I began to get grumpy, overtired, black circles appeared under my eyes. I finally realized that there was only one solution to the problem. I had to have night time relief.

I have since hired a sitter to come in at Midnight and stay until 8 AM. I got a full night's sleep the very first night, and awoke feeling like I could run a marathon! What a difference from how I had felt prior to a good rest.

If you can not afford a hired sitter, you might try to find a friend or neighbor who would be willing to give you a "night off" once in a while. Although this will not completely alleviate the problem, it will leave you refreshed for a time and give your body and your immune system a time to recover.

Eating the right foods is important also in protecting your immune system, so here is a nice healthy recipe which can help keep you on track.



6 ounces baked potato chips
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 (6 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided

Grind chips in a food processor (or blender) and place in a shallow dish. Place 3/4 cup flour in a shallow dish. Combine milk and egg in another shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken with salt before dredging in flour mixture, then dip in milk mixture; dredge in ground potato chips.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add half of the chicken strips; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Repeat with remaining oil and chicken.

Calories per serving 444

Serve with some sauteed fresh spinach and a baked potato for a healthy and satisfying meal!

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