Sleep: Not Just For “Beauty”
As a parent of young children, sleep may be elusive for you. In your child’s early days and weeks, you likely are so tired that you feel like you could fall over and sleep immediately. As your child grows, the sleep deprivation eases and you make sleep and sleep routines a priority for your child. But do you make it a priority for yourself? Are you giving your own body the rest and restoration it needs to function most effectively?
Making sleep a priority for you is a health decision for you and your family. More and more results of sleep research are telling us that rest is critical for a variety of health-related issues -- and the impact of sleep deprivation is real and serious. Mommy bloggers may joke that "sleep is for the weak," but it's really no joke. As a parent you want to do what is best for your child and your family. Appropriate sleep for all of you should be part of that.
Sleep for mood and decision making
You see it in your children and you likely see it in yourself. You are in a better mood -- and better able to handle challenges in your day -- when you are rested. Sleep absolutely affects your mood! Take a cue from what you see in your kids when they have enough (or not enough) rest. It applies to you, too.
Several scientific studies over the last 15 years have shown that effective and appropriate decision making is affected by relative sleep -- you have a more difficult time making appropriate decisions when you are sleep deprived! To best handle the challenges of parenting, you need sleep.
Sleep for health and appearance
Remember your mother's admonition to "get your beauty sleep?" It wasn't an exaggeration. In fact, it may well be more than that. When you sleep, you aren't "just" resting -- you are restoring. Cells, those basic building blocks of your body, need time to recover their energy to power you through the next day. Sleep time is when they do that.
Appropriate amounts of sleep have been tied to decreasing risk for disease, including heart ailments -- not just minimizing those seemingly permanent bags under your eyes. Sleep has been tied to effective weight loss and fitness as well. If you are making changes in other parts of your life to live healthier and decrease risk factors, look at your sleep pattern and address it.
So how much sleep do you need? While it varies by person, but most people need between seven and nine hours. Preferably this happens all at once, but if you can grab an hour nap in the afternoon when your toddler is down for her nap, then get the rest at night, it's better than not getting that extra hour at all.
This is all to say that elusive as it may be on some nights, making sleep a priority in your life is a critical part of your health and well-being. Turn off the screens (yes, including this one), turn the lights down and get in bed -- early and often. Make sleep a priority for you as well as for your child and the whole family make be happier for it. Put it on the family schedule if you need to.
Set a reminder on your smartphone to go off at 9:30 every night that says, "Time for bed" -- and heed the alert. Making sleep a priority for you is about doing what is best for your family.
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