Each week, they would lose between 2.5 and 3.5 hours of sleep because of difficulties of falling asleep or unwanted awakenings.
Nearly 11 million people help one of their loved ones sick, disabled or dependent in France. This situation can generate anxieties or concerns that have consequences for health. According to a study by Baylor University in the United States, caregivers lose between 2.5 and 3.5 hours of sleep per week, compared to the rest of the population.
35 studies analyzed
Researchers analyzed 35 studies to obtain a sample of more than 3,200 caregivers who cared for a loved one with dementia. In addition to fewer hours of sleep each week, they reported lower quality nights compared to non-caregivers. Some had difficulty falling asleep and others remained uncomfortable. "Losing 3.5 hours of sleep a week seems like little," says Chenu Gao, one of the authors of the study, but caregivers often accumulate a sleep deficit over several years. According to her, this can have consequences on their health but also on their ability to support their loved one. "Maybe a caregiver could forget a drug or react with more emotions than usual," says Michael Scullin, co-author.
Solutions to improve the quality of sleep
By looking at different criteria, such as exercise or drinking at night, researchers have found several ways to improve caregiver sleep. Simple day-to-day changes have a direct effect on the quality of the nights: creating a routine for bedtime, exercising a bit, or exposing yourself to natural light in the morning. According to Chenu Gao, doctors must also take into account this degraded sleep of caregivers: "health professionals should think about interventions not only for the patient but also for his spouse, his child or his friend who helps him . " Ultimately, giving more importance to the caregivers' role will be necessary. The number of dependents is expected to increase further in the coming years. The Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics Division already estimates that the number of caregivers will reach 2.3 million in 2060. They were 1.1 million in 2010.