Forget About the Kids and Try These Sleep Strategies for Tired Moms Instead

peaceful sleep for parents
Image via Katie Hurley

Sleep deprivation is a common topic of conversation among parents. We think of it as a problem for new parents dealing with night feedings and explosive diapers at all hours, but the truth is that modern parenthood runs on sleep deprivation. It's true. Listen to a group of parents compare sleep habits and you'll find that we live in a culture that takes pride in getting by on little sleep. Sleep, it seems, is nothing but a detriment to our productivity.

I once found myself in the middle of a debate on sleep during a birthday party. Mom after mom told tales of skipping out on sleep for various reasons. Some had to work, some couldn't let the dishes go, and some just wanted some “me time”. All were proud of their ability to “thrive” on so little sleep. Then they looked at me. “I can't function without enough sleep,” I said. They quickly returned to their battle stories of late night work and dishes at 2am. Apparently I was alone in that sentiment.

Sleep deprivation is no laughing matter for moms.

It might seem like surviving on little sleep earns you a badge of honor, but the truth is that sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, depressed mood, and feelings of anxiety.

It can also have a negative impact on the way you relate to and parent your children and how you relate to your spouse.

You wouldn't dream of letting your kids stay up so late that they yawn their way through each day, would you? So why would you put yourself in that position? It's time for parents to rethink parental sleep habits and take a break from the rat race to focus on self-preservation for a change.

How do you start doing this?

enhance your life journal
Image via Flickr/ basykes

Develop your own routine:

Chances are you have a sleep routine for you kids, but do you have one for you? Having a bedtime routine helps cue your brain to slow down and prepare for sleep. Think about the routine you have for your little ones (bath, read, lights out) and start there.

Giving yourself permission to focus on good sleep habits will translate to better days and a more enjoyable parenting journey.

Too many thoughts racing through your head? Journal them. Writing down your worries, thoughts, and to-dos frees your mind to make room for relaxation.

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cell phone
Image via Amanda Rodriguez

Shut down:

Screen time before bed (and, yes, that includes Facebook and Pinterest) gets in the way of melatonin release and confuses your brain. Seriously. It's true. Scrolling through something on your phone or watching TV in bed sends mixed signals to the biological clock in your brain that makes every effort to get you to sleep on time.

Turn off the TV at least one hour before your appointed bedtime (the one you established in your new sleep routine) and keep all tablets, phones, laptops and other screens away from your bed. You need sleep more than you need to know what's trending on Twitter, I promise.

sink-with-dishes
Image via Flickr peapodlabs

Give yourself a break:

Believe me, I understand. The sink is full of dishes, the floors need mopping, and the bathroom is a disaster. Housework always seems to call the moment you finally decide to sit down and put your feet up. Put your feet up, anyway.

Parenting is hard enough without trying to finish every single task, every single day. The truth is that your productivity will actually improve when you factor sufficient sleep into your lifestyle. So go ahead and let the dishes soak sometimes, you just might find that taking a break enables you to get more done another day.

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Forget About the Kids and Try These Sleep Strategies for Tired Moms Instead

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about helping parents enjoy the ride, she provides parent education and simple strategies to take t ... More

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