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Sleep in caregivers: what we know and what we need to learn.

McCurry SM, Song Y, Martin JL. Sleep in caregivers: what we know and what we need to learn. Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 2015 Nov 1; 28(6):497-503.

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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The number of informal caregivers providing assistance to adults is increasing commensurate with our aging society. Sleep disturbances are prevalent in caregivers and associated with negative physical, medical, and functional outcomes. Here, we describe the predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors contributing to the development of sleep problems in caregivers, and discuss three understudied caregiving populations that have clinical importance and unique circumstances influencing sleep quality and health. RECENT FINDINGS: There is clear evidence supporting the interaction between sleep loss, caregiving stress, and vulnerability to chronic disease. Telehealth and telemedicine sleep interventions for caregivers combined with assistive technologies targeting care-receivers have potential to be more individualized, affordable, and widely accessible than traditional in-person insomnia treatment approaches. Limited data exist describing the etiology and treatment of sleep problems in caregivers of veterans, medical patients newly discharged from the hospital, and developmentally disabled adults. SUMMARY: There is a growing literature describing the general determinants of sleep disturbances in caregivers, the health consequences of these disturbances, and intervention strategies for treating them. Identifying effective sleep treatments suited to more specialized caregiving situations and increasing intervention access will help caregivers continue to provide quality care while protecting their own health and well-being.

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