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A brand collaboration with Sleep Advisor

Raising kids is one of the most exciting and exhausting things you can do. All the highs and lows, the laughter and the tears, the big moments and the little squabbles — it’s enough to wear you out.

And yet, even though we’re often driven to the brink of pure exhaustion… we still don’t get enough sleep. Sometimes we consciously scrimp on the amount of hours we’re supposed to get – through the misconception that we don’t need it or that we can “catch up” on lost sleep later. Other times the ability to sleep has been taken out of our hands completely; by a restless, anxious mind or a colicky baby keeping us awake for the majority of the night.

In any case, we’re losing out on valuable sleep.

And valuable it is. Why? Well, getting enough, good-quality sleep helps us to be more thoughtful, more productive, healthier and happier human beings. It gives us the energy and the sheer creativity involved in being a great parent; coming in very useful when you have to play “make-believe afternoon tea party” for the tenth time that weekend.

On the other hand, being sleep-deprived can lead to all kinds of physical and mental illness. It can lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, not to mention a weaker immune system leaving us vulnerable to every bug and virus going around. Sleep deprivation is also linked to stress-related disorders like insomnia, anxiety and depression. In fact, research has shown that some form of sleep deprivation is present in nearly all psychiatric disorders.

So sleeping properly makes us better parents.

It keeps us strong and healthy, in body and in mind, and means we can give our little ones the care and attention they deserve.

Of course, we can’t expect to have a perfect sleep every night. That’s just not realistic, with a family to look after and other work/life responsibilities grabbing our attention! But what I’m talking about here is the danger of missing out on sufficient sleep over an extended period of time. The effects of one bad night’s sleep might result in you being grumpy, lethargic and perhaps a little stiff and achy the next day. But the cumulative effects of days, weeks or even months spent with little sleep can be far, far worse.

But how much sleep do we need, exactly?

Well, probably more than you might think. The National Sleep Foundation published these new times, in which they state that adults up to the age of 64 should be getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night.

So if you’re used to only getting 5 or 6 hours, you could be damaging your health – even if you don’t realise it. And you might not know what you’re missing out on until you start reaching this sleep target; suddenly you feel more alert and rested in the morning, less prone to snap at your partner, to get upset or lose concentration in work, or to catch yet another flu. You’ll be more likely to eat healthier, to exercise often and to make smarter lifestyle decisions that contribute to your overall wellbeing.

Of course, this can change from person to person.

Some people function best on 7 hours’ sleep a night; otherwise they feel overtired and groggy come morning. While others need those 9 hours – anything less and they start to feel the effects on their mood, their performance and their health.

It’s important to listen to your body, and to see what works for you. If you think you’re sleeping too much, try and make yourself get up half an hour earlier every morning this week. Does it make a difference? Similarly, if you feel like you’re losing out on sleep, try to either go to bed earlier, or force yourself to lie in, if you can. Or take a nap during the day; even though naps aren’t recommended as a substitute for sleep, they are a great way of catching up on rest if you’ve been sleeping poorly.

You might be amazed at the difference.

You’ll start to look and feel better, plus you’ll be more positive in general. You’ll be happy with the way things are, instead of constantly making plans or wondering about how you can change things. And with this new, more content outlook, sleep will come easier. Because instead of a regretful, anxious mind keeping you up at night, your mind will feel calm and relaxed. In short, in a much better position for sleep.

Of course, getting better sleep isn’t easy.

It’s something you have to work on, and it probably won’t happen overnight (sorry!) But by taking specific measures to help – like going to bed early, ensuring you get your recommended 7 to 9 hours and reading tips on websites like the Sleep Advisor – well, the poor habits of the past few months or years can change.

Soon you’ll start getting the sleep you need, and deserve, and being the great parents you know you can be.


Category: Health

Tags: guest post