Wednesday, March 20, 2013

TING AND I, Caregiver Sleep

“Sleep [that] knits up the raveled sleeve of care ... Chief nourisher in life’s feast,” Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth.

Getting sleep in the caregiver role is not easy, even when you have plenty of help in giving that care. My year of lying beside Tina as the overnight nurse helped get me into a pattern of sleeping lightly, waking easily several times per night. When that phase passed, I still did not sleep well, even upstairs in my own bed, likely due to a combination of minor medical problems of my own and underlying anxiety about Tina’s condition.

Why not take a pill? Years before Tina’s near-death, I did. Sometimes they worked, sometimes not. One night during that critical hospitalization, I took a couple of Tylenol PMs and slept soundly. Too soundly, it turned out. In the middle of the night they called me to tell or ask something important about Tina’s care. Whatever it was, I responded plausibly, but remembered it only vaguely when I awoke. That’s too dangerous to let happen again, I thought. I no longer take anything stronger than milk before bedtime.

The Bard wrote, “to sleep, perchance to dream ... there’s the rub.” Several dreams lately have been of my being in jeopardy, with people ignoring it or leaving me to face it alone.

To keep from being sleep-deprived, another dangerous situation, I take frequent naps during the day. I have read that they are almost as effective as the same amount of time spent in regular sleep. They are pleasant, so much so that one wit described being awake as “that unpleasant time between naps.”

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