Guide to Better Sleep for Tired Parents
Do you remember a time before children, when you could slip off to bed when you felt like it, get up when it suited you and your schedule, and you didn’t have to be on top of your game as well as taking care of the kids lives too? It may seem like a distant memory, and you might perhaps look back with a slight degree of envy, but where is the fun in all of that, hey?
Having a child is an absolute wonder! You’re a special person to be able to raise a child and there are thousands of people who would do anything to be in your shoes. But, to be a strong, balanced, healthy and rational parent, sleep does play a big part which means you’re going to have to get the best quality rest wherever possible.
Establishing a good structure with solid, dependable(ish) routines can ensure that all you tired mums reading this can enjoy the best sleep you can!
What’s the right amount of sleep?
Experts, such as The National Sleep Foundation and sleepadvisor.org advise that the average adult needs to acquire between seven and nine hours of sleep each evening.
For new parents, this will undoubtedly be broken up for feeds and settling your little one back to sleep, but if you can get as close to this amount as you possibly can, then you’re on the right track.
Understanding the importance of sleep will help you do it better!
Appreciating being well-rested is one thing, but knowing the worth of your slumber is another thing. You’ll be aware of when you’ve had a decent night’s sleep because everything will seem far more effortless and you’ll have more energy to deal with what life throws at you, compared to when you have a poor night’s sleep.
Whatever anyone tells you, or the ads try to sell you, there’s simply no healthy alternative that can replace sleep and all that it does for you. The benefits you can enjoy through sleep alone include:
· Better immune function
· Less risk of suffering depression
· Better mood control
· Weight control
· Eating fewer calories
· Improved productivity and concentration
· Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
· Lowered risk of type II diabetes
At the same time as teaching your little one the importance of sleep, parents often need to give themselves a little reminder too. Being able to practice what you preach can literally be the difference between leading a healthy, functional life and one that suffers from low mood, low energy and ill-health.
Make the bedroom a place you look forward to being in
There’s a high chance that you are calling out for your bed come the end of the day anyway, but if you can make your bedroom a sleep-specific utopia then all the better!
Humans have an innate love for routine, so if you go to bed every night with your phone in your hand and the TV switched on in the room, you are not helping the cause whatsoever. Your room, and indeed, your children’s room too, needs to be as dark, quiet and cosy as possible.
Killing off sound will help you relax, the darkness helps to let your brain know that you are ‘powering down’ for the night, and when the room is cosy it’s easier to get comfortable, so you’re going to drift off with greater ease.
The same goes for your children too, and this should be established as early on as possible to help you now and in the long-run. Games consoles, TVs and smart devices are all things that need to be kept separate from the bedroom for two reasons:
· The first is that the blue light emitted from the screen makes it harder for your brain to produce melatonin and this hormone is required to send you off to sleep effectively.
· The second is that if this kind of tech is in your/your child’s room, then the brain won’t automatically relate the bedroom as being a place of rest and this will make getting to sleep harder and the brain becomes stimulated at a time when it should be doing the opposite.
Get rest when your baby does
For the parents of newly-born and younger children, it can be advantageous to sleep when they sleep. We all know how difficult this can be, the washing/admin doesn’t do itself… BUT it really can make a HUGE difference to your energy levels and mood. We’re referring mainly to the naps they have in the daytime; naps have been proven to be very effectual for adults, even after the bad press that naps have seen and the association with laziness, scientists found that a 60-90-minute nap has the ability to charge up your brain’s power stores to the equivalent of sleeping for eight hours at night.
What’s more, if the little one doesn’t stay asleep for the same amount of time, a nap of 10-20 minutes can still be very beneficial for you too!
Hopefully this article will encourage you to take a moment to think about YOU. You work so hard to teach your children good sleep habits, so don’t forget to apply similar self-care sleep principles to yourself. You, and everyone around you, can only benefit.
P.s. This post is a collaboration with sleepadvisor.org.