Why It’s Important For Parents To Get Enough Sleep

Most parents have heard that it’s vital for them to get a good night’s sleep, but when we don’t know the details of why something is so important, it’s easy for us to shrug off this advice. Here are some useful facts that underscore why maintaining a healthy sleep schedule is a crucial habit for parents.

Problems Caused by Lack of Sleep

SleepFoundation.org lists the following complications of sleep loss:

  • Irritability: With insufficient sleep, people are more irritable, anxious, and likely to lash out at children, spouses, friends and co-workers.
  • Anxiety and Depression: Without proper sleep, people have higher risks for negative moods, anxiety and depression. If you experience these symptoms, reach out to your health care provider.
  • Accidents and Injuries: Sleep-deprived people tend to have longer reaction times, which increases the risk of accidents such as motor vehicle crashes. Avoid driving or operating other machinery when you are sleep-deprived.

All these complications affect our ability to parent our children.

Can I Catch Up On Sleep Over the Weekend?

Many parents think they can catch up on sleep during the weekend, but a 2019 study indicates this is a bad practice. It found that weekday sleep loss had negative effects on metabolism, and extra sleep on the weekend didn’t help fix it. The sleep-deprived people in the study lost some sensitivity to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. They ate more at night and gained weight. This decreased insulin sensitivity is a common precursor to type 2 diabetes. A number of studies have linked long-term sleep deprivation to high risks of diabetes and obesity. According to sleep specialist Dr. Phyllis Zee, who is also a professor at Northwestern University School of Medicine, other results of chronic sleep loss — including impaired alertness and mental performance — cannot be compensated for with a couple of nights of extra sleep. “Regularity in both timing and duration of sleep is key to brain and body health.”

Good Habits

This article from Harvard Business Review reinforces the negative effects that sleep deprivation has on parents but also gives advice on fixing this problem:

  • Prioritize sleep.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep routine.
  • Limit exposure to blue light at night.
  • Keep devices out of your bedroom.
  • Don’t bring up serious topics before bedtime.
  • Buy time if you can by having meals or groceries delivered.

SleepFoundation.org has other tips:

  • Nap when baby naps.
  • Be comfortable declining requests to come see the baby when you don’t have time.
  • A good sleep environment is cool, quiet and dark.
  • Ask for help when you need it.
  • Start sleep-training baby at six months.

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