Bereaved Caregivers' Descriptions of Sleep: Impact on Daily Life and the Bereavement Process

Patricia A. Carter

ONF 2005, 32(4), E70-E75. DOI: 10.1188/05.ONF.E70-E75

Purpose/Objectives: To describe how sleep and bereavement may be related in family caregivers.

Design: Descriptive and qualitative.

Setting: Participants' homes.

Sample: 9 adults with no previous diagnoses of clinical depression or sleep disorders who had been providing care to family members who died in the previous six months.

Methods: Participants provided narrative accounts of sleep quality, bereavement, and daily functioning since the death of their family members. Participants' sleep quality and depressive symptoms also were measured with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D).

Main Research Variables: Sleep quality, depressive symptoms, bereavement, and daily functioning.

Findings: Narratives revealed five themes: nightmares, wake after sleep onset, scheduling, daily life, and bereavement. Participants scored high on the PSQI and CES-D.

Conclusions: Sleep quality appears to affect bereavement and daily functioning. Participants reported severe levels of sleep disturbance and depressive symptoms.

Implications for Nursing: Studies are needed to explore sleep quality in bereaved caregivers and to examine the relationship between sleep quality and an individual's ability to accomplish the tasks of bereavement.

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