Restful Tips for Sleep-Deprived Parents

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Landis
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Photo by Fotolia

A full night’s sleep can look a little different for everyone. With kids — well, it can look somewhat grim. If you’ve found this article, chances are that grimness is what brought you here. Yes, those of us who have been blessed with non-sleepers know what it’s like to struggle with the morning light — even after a few cups of coffee.

But sleeplessness doesn’t last forever. Let’s hope not, anyway, or the world can just quit reproducing. The secret to actually sleeping in with kids is to take charge of your sleep. Here’s how:

Redefine “Sleeping In”

With diapers taking over your dreams, even sleeping until 7 a.m. can feel like heaven. Instead of considering what time you’re getting up in the morning, focus on the best way to maximize the times when you cansleep. Getting a good seven hours of sleep each night can improve your mood, focus and overall health. If you happen to get eight hours one night — well, you lucky dog, you.

Delegate Your To-Dos

Moms and dads these days are loaded with to-dos. Though asking for help may seem like some sort of weakness, it’s actually a truly valuable and strong skill. Take a look at what you need to get done for the week, and then see which tasks absolutely need to be completed by you. That teenager down the street may be grateful for a few extra bucks, so hire her to cut your lawn once a week. Time is money, and money can buy you time to sleep.

Photo by Fotolia

Sleep When Your Babes Do

Many prenatal programs tell you this tidbit in their spiels: Sleep when your babies are sleeping. Why do they tell you that? Because it may just be your saving grace. Let the laundry pile up a little, drop your vacuum routine down to once a week and get some rest. And most importantly: Don’t feel guilty about it. If catching a few precious minutes of shut-eye during your kid’s downtime is what gets you through the rest of the day, don’t hesitate — just do it.

Go to Bed Earlier

Night owls, you know who you are! It’s hard to say this, but you may be doing more harm to yourself with your late-night routines. In fact, there are several reasons why going to bed late can be harmful to your health, many of which are caused by sleep deprivation. So, you see, sleep is super important for your overall well-being. With that in mind, raise your right hand and say the following:

“Yes, I love late-night television, but I love sleeping more. I swear to head to bed at least ten minutes earlier tonight so I can catch some much-needed zzzs.”

If you felt embarrassed doing that, don’t — your rest is important. If you just didn’t do it, press rewind and do it — your rest is important.

Establish a baby bedtime routine

A bedtime routine is important for the kiddos — and for you. When it comes to nighttime with little ones, 7 – 8 p.m. is your sweet spot for sleeping. Get that bedtime routine going with calming activities. Have your kids turn off their electronics, take a warm bath, and snuggle up in their pajamas with a good book before you tuck them in. Once they’re in bed enjoy your own calming bedtime routine.

Don’t Add Unnecessary Activities

If you’re the type to keep a detailed calendar, go over it to look for unnecessary activities. Prioritize your duties into must-dos, want-to-dos and those that can take a walk out the door. Once you’ve purged, don’t add anything else.

Eliminate Bedtime Screen Watching

Though it’s tempting to scan social media before bed or turn on a kid’s show for your toddler to watch while eating his bedtime snack, try to keep the temptation at bay. Use of electronics before bed can actually lead to restlessness and up to an hour of lost sleep. Instead, power down the screens a good 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime and opt for leisurely, calm activities, like reading, doing puzzles or listening to relaxing music. 

Watch What You Eat

Your kids have bedtime snacks, so why shouldn’t you? Well, it turns out that late night eating may actually be harming your sleep patterns. Eating late at night can actually cause your sugar to spike, which — in turn — can make you antsy. It can also be a mindless activity as you relax in front of the tube. This, in turn, can lead to overeating and stress out your digestive system. If you must grab a bite, grab a piece of fruit or a cheese stick.

Having kids is one of the best things in the world, but having kids and sleeping seven hours a night is something shy of nirvana. Take control of your sleeping with these tips and tricks, and wake up refreshed no matter what ungodly hour your little one decides is best for morning.

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