“I need to be alert at night to provide care”: Factors associated with problematic sleep among young Australian caregivers

Jessica Paterson, Matthew J.W. Thomas, Amy Reynolds, Madeline Sprajcer, Charlotte C. Gupta, Rosie Gibson, Grace E Vincent, Sally Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: There is increased recognition that young people (<25 years) may occupy a carer role for family or others with health conditions or disability. This is often in addition to study and social activities. This means competing demands on time, and insufficient sleep. Our aim was to determine the contribution of caring duties to problematic sleep in young carers. Methods: A survey of Australian carers was conducted, including questions on demographics, characteristics of the carer and care recipient, and sleep quality and quantity. Participants were eligible if they reported sleep time <7 hr or dissatisfaction with their sleep, and were aged 15–24 years. Results: A total of 110 participants (71.8%_female = 79, 15–17 years = 62, 18–24 years = 48) were included in analysis; 55.5% (n= 61) reporting dissatisfaction with their sleep and 62.7% (n= 69) reporting typically less than 7 hr sleep per night. Sleep duration was significantly shorter for those who reported 1–2 or ≥3 awakenings to provide care, compared with no awakenings (p_< .05). Sleep quality, as described by scores on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was also significantly worse for those who were frequently awoken by their care recipient (p < .05). Worrying about the care recipient, being woken by the care recipient, and listening out for the care recipient were the most frequently identified factors impacting on sleep. Conclusion: Young carers experience reduced sleep duration and poor sleep quality. Strategies to alleviate the burden of care work on young carer’s sleep would benefit the health and safety of this group.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBehavioral Sleep Medicine
Early online date27 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Caregivers
  • Young People
  • Sleep problems
  • Problematic sleep

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