When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep? Being a mom means trading in your good night’s sleep for the next 13 or so years normally. But if you’ve had a baby that hasn’t slept through the night for many years, and then another one came along (just in time for your first baby to sleep through the night), you have learnt how to function with little sleep, especially after your time in hospital where you either wanted the baby out of you yesterday or you just needed some sleep, even five minutes! We all have to function without sleep from time to time, but is this really the best way? And what are the impacts of a lack of sleep on our overall health?
How We View Sleep
Whichever way you turn, people brag about functioning on very little sleep. But we all know, especially as parents, those people haven’t had to get up numerous times during the night, and then have to function all day. But these people who brag about the lack of sleep prowess are more than likely to have a lie-in on the weekend! And you get it in the neck from other parents too, if you had 6 hours uninterrupted sleep, it’s considered a good night. But we all know the figures; you need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep at night! We all differ, but we look at sleep as something that almost gets in the way of our daily lives. But sleep is not just important for our body, it’s important for our brains also.
The Impact Of Little Sleep
While we all know the feeling of fogginess when we’ve had a rough night, it’s important to know what lack of sleep over time really does to you. To ram the point home, sleep deprivation has been a contributing factor to some of the biggest disasters in recent memory. From Chernobyl to the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. You might think that you don’t have a responsibility nowhere near as important as these people who caused these major catastrophes, but think about the things you do on a daily basis that are potentially dangerous. Driving is one of those things that we all take for granted and we do function on autopilot a lot of the time. All it takes is for you to feel particularly sluggish one day, and someone else to not look where they’re going, and a major accident could happen. And if you cause a major accident, then you’d better have an experienced injury and accident lawyer fighting your corner! In America, 1550 crash-related deaths are caused by driver fatigue. And remember, driving drowsy has as much of an impact on your reaction time as if you were driving drunk! Even having two hours less sleep than the recommended amount every day for two weeks is the equivalent of having stayed up for 48 hours straight. Not to mention the fact that sleep has an impact on your mental outlook, but also puts you at risk for heart failure, diabetes, stroke, and the list goes on! So, now don’t you think it’s time to get a good night’s sleep?
How Can We Get A Good Night’s Sleep?
Now that you know the impact of having so little sleep, it’s time to address this. The first thing to look at is your lifestyle. When you have so little sleep, naturally your body craves sugar and the means to stay awake. This means excessive sweet treats, as well as pints of caffeine. But, here is the hard bit, try to stay away from caffeinated drinks after 2 p.m.! Because caffeine stays in your system for 12 hours, depending on your sensitivity to caffeine, this is going to disrupt your sleep. When it comes to eating anything sugary, or anything, in fact, make sure that you eat everything 2 hours before bedtime. Because the temptation is to go to sleep as soon as your child is asleep, you may find this is just after you’ve eaten something. So instead, it’s better to not eat anything after a certain time just to be on the safe side, but don’t undereat! Stick to water, but keep it minimal, because you don’t want to be getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom! If this is stuff you already do, it’s time to dig a bit deeper. First of all, do you look at your smartphone in bed? If so, and you can’t tear yourself away from it, you need to invest in a blue light filter. The blue light being emitted from every phone or television device disrupts our sleep hormone, melatonin.
So if you find yourself glued to your phone all day, and all night, it’s time to start banishing the phone from the bedroom. It will have an impact on your ability to nap during the day, and if there’s a window for you to nap, then it’s recommended that you take this opportunity! But we all feel that a nap is a waste of time in our busy schedule. This is far from the case, a short nap, around 20 minutes, has been known to have a positive impact on our reaction times. But the worry about falling into a deep sleep means that we can wake up feeling sluggish, especially if we do end up too far into our sleep cycle. But the one way to counteract this is to have what they call a caffeine nap, whereby you have some caffeine and go for a nap! As the caffeine takes 20 minutes to hit your system, you will wake up feeling more refreshed having had a nap, but also energized due to the caffeine.
Get To Sleep!
Sleep has had a bad rap, and we can feel bad if we have to sleep during the day, or we can be perceived as being weak, but the fact is that if your body is telling you that you need rest, then take it! If you have children that don’t sleep, you’ve got to make some priorities, so you can rest. It’s for the benefit of you and your family that you have a good night’s sleep, so start to think about how you can do this!