Why Parents Need More Sleep and How to Get It

The following post is from Kat of Inspired To Action:

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Honestly? Sleep is amazing. It’s like a parent’s magic bullet.

Sleep can make you more patient overnight. It can make you look years younger and it can dramatically increase your energy. These aren’t wild claims;they’re basic facts.

It seems so simple, so … magical, yet it’s so hard to do. Why?

Why We Don’t Get Enough Sleep

1. It’s a season.

Every parent has gone through a season of sleeplessness and one of the hardest things to remember is that it is actually just a season.

Maybe you have a newborn or your child is going through a phase, either way it’s vital to keep in mind that it won’t last forever. As you figure out ways to endure, make sure your solutions are viable for the long term. You’re ultimate goal is for you and your children to sleep well at night.

2. We go to bed too late.

I have been SOOOOO guilty of this. I’ve gotten much better in recent years, but I still have my moments.

Many parents, myself included, often crave the quiet alone time we get in the evening, but the time we steal in the evening only robs us (and our families) of energy and patience the next day.

One key I’ve found is to have a bedtime cue. When I was younger it was the evening news. As soon as the news was over, I’d go straight to bed. I don’t really watch the news anymore, but now my husband is my cue. He’s good about going to bed at a decent time, and I make myself get ready for bed when he does because I know that if I tell him I’m going to be up “just a few more minutes” it will be HOURS before I go to bed.

What could your cue be? A watch alarm? The end of a show? The chime of a clock?

Another thing that helps me is that once every so often, usually on a weekend, I’ll just go crazy and stay up late on purpose. That way I have the fun of an “endless” evening, but it’s a treat rather than a habit.

3. We relax when we should rest.

Instead of “relaxing” with our phone or computer and checking Facebook, perhaps it would help us more if we laid on the couch and closed our eyes for those same 5 minutes. Never underestimate the effectiveness of a power nap.

Instead of turning on the TV in the evening after a long day, perhaps we should get ready for bed and read until we fall asleep.

Even though it would be nice to have the luxury of working on a home project, maybe sometimes its better for us and for our families if we get a good nights sleep.

How to Get More Sleep

1. Make sure your kids are getting enough sleep.

Well rested and happy kids make well rested and happy parents. If your children have a strong sleep routine, you will be more likely to have a strong sleep routine. (Now remember, my kids are 5, 7 an 9, so if you have a baby – this is something that will work itself out soon enough.)

My oldest has always needed a lot of sleep. So, she taught us early on about the importance of rest. As a general rule, we put our kids to bed early enough that they wake up on time on their own.  I figure their growing bodies are better determiners of how much sleep they need than the clock is.

By putting our kids to bed early, my husband and I also have plenty of time to chat and unwind before our bedtime.

2. Nap.

Naps are awesome for preschoolers and moms alike. If your child naps, fight the urge to work while they sleep. If you’re tired, sleep will benefit you more than an empty sink. And these years with little ones are fleeting, I promise you’ll never regret the extra cuddles.

If your kids are older and don’t nap, perhaps you could set your watch for 20 minutes and fall asleep on the couch with them while they watch a video or play a game.

Either way, I definitely recommend limiting your nap to about 20 minutes or else you’ll hit deep sleep and wake up groggy.

3. Stay accountable.

It’s hard to get anything done without the help, encouragement and inspiration of others. If you need more sleep and, technically, it’s something you could squeeze into your schedule, perhaps you should enlist the help of a friend to keep you accountable.

Perhaps you could text one another at bedtime or email updates each week on how much sleep you got and how you could improve next time.

The bottom line is that consistent, quality sleep will have a profound impact on your health, energy, attitude and ultimately your children.

Do you struggle to get enough sleep?

Kat blogs at Inspired To Action, a site dedicated to helping moms develop the habits and skills they need to effectively manage their homes and raise children who are prepared to change the world. Kat loves music, running, technology, Jesus and Tex-Mex food. Not necessarily in that order.