You never realize how ironic the phrase "sleep like a baby" is until you live with an actually baby. Sure, when babies sleep, they sleep sound, but what everyone fails to tell you is how many times they wake up each night, which in turn, wakes you up as well. After bringing your baby home, you wake up many mornings feeling more exhausted then you were when you went to bed. But parenting is an important job, and you need to bring your A game — which is the one reason every parent needs eight hours of sleep each night.
For years, experts have been telling us that adults age 18 to 64 need eight hours of sleep — on average — to perform and feel their best, according to Everyday Health. However, research now suggests that adults consider that value of quality over quantity when it comes to sleep, and not invest too much in a one size fits all mentality. Finding the sleep formula that works for you is key to managing your health and keeping your eyes on the prize of being an alert and functioning parent.
Not getting adequate sleep is a slippery slope into a myriad of unwanted problems. According to Healthline's website, sleep deprivation can affect your whole body; from your brain functioning to your immune system to your heart health. "Sleep deprivation leaves the brain exhausted, so it can’t perform its duties well," the site reported. Focus, mood, and memory can all be altered when you don't get enough sleep, which makes staying on top of your parenting responsibilities more difficult.
Getting enough sleep is easier said than done. Every night when I go to bed, my brain says, "Time to sleep." But then my iPad whispers, "Pssst! I have Netflix!" Then a battle of self-discipline versus giving into temptation erupts in my brain, forcing me to choose between sweet dreams and re-watching a few episodes of Master Of None. (Because, can say no to Aziz Ansari? Seriously.) However, sacrificing some small pleasures — such as late night television watching or reading — will pay off for parents who need to log more shut eye, according to Today. You just have to get better at telling yourself, "no."
But let's say you're following all the rules and still can't stop yawning your way through the day. Parents suggests fitting in relaxation whenever possible. This means sneaking a nap when the little ones are napping, or even taking a quick five to kick up your feet and do zero things. The most important thing is that your body is getting some down time, and has a chance to restore you enough to help you make it to bedtime as a sane person.
Since interrupted REM impairs your memory, sleeping long and sound enough are crucial to your overall health and function, according to Psychology Today. Not having you wits about you while caring for a child could lead to some dangerous results. Avoiding sleep deprivation may not be cut and dry, but doing everything you can to give your body the sleep it needs will pay off — not only for your wellbeing, but for the life of your child as well.