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The Importance of Healthy Sleep for Parents & Tips to Get Longer Sleep

Sleep is important to parents as it is important for babies. However, the different sleeping patterns of babies make it difficult for parents.

Most of them will have trouble getting enough sleep while raising the babies. This can be unhealthy for them, especially if they also have to work during the day.

Unhealthy parents may result to unhealthy babies, too. Here are reasons why a good sleep is important to parents.

  • It helps you focus.
    Taking care of the babies needs a lot of focus. If the parents cannot focus, they may not provide the child what they need.

    According to child experts, babies depend on their parents or the people around them. If they lack focus, they may not be able to provide the baby of his needs.
  • It helps you become safe.
    When you do not get enough sleep, you tend to be clumsy. This can be dangerous to both you and your baby.

    You may become negligent with your decision and can get into accidents with your baby.
  • It helps you create better relationship with the baby.
    Parents, who are tired, may not have enough energy to play with their babies. Instead of playing with them, they let them play with toys alone, so they can take the time to rest.

    The babies might feel detached from the parents because of this. The development of the baby may also suffer because the parents are not there to guide him or make him understand the thing that interests him.
  • It helps you avoid deadly diseases.
    People, who get enough sleep, have lower risk of diabetes, heart disease and other deadly diseases. The body balances the release of hormones when you sleep, according to research.

    When the hormones are balance, your body, and brain develops well. It makes you mentally and physically healthy.

    Sleep also helps boost the immune system making you less prone to bacterial and viral infections.
  • It boosts your intelligence.
    Researches proved that some part of the brain might stop functioning if you lack sleep. This may affect the sharpness of your memory and the ability to understand information.

    It also makes you lazy and disinterested with the things you need to do. However, if you have a good sleep, your brain cells and the nerves are more active.

    They can absorb and transmit information to your body well. Thus, you can think faster and understand better.

    It may also help you analyze the problems well and make better decisions.
  • It keeps you physically fit.
    Many parents notice that they are gaining weight while watching the baby, instead of losing weight. They think that because they remain sleepless and active at night, they should become slimmer.

    Studies show, however, that lack of sleep causes obesity. Having enough sleep, on the other hand, helps you control your appetite.

    When you sleep, your body produces more leptin, which is the hormone that makes you feel full. If you are awake longer, the body produces more ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry.

Effect of Sleep-deprived Parents to Babies

It is also dangerous for the babies when the parents are tired. Many things may happen to the baby when the parent watching over them is too tired or sleepy.

Here are some of them.

  • Accidents
    Parents, who lack sleeps, are often clumsy and absent-minded. This may result in accidents. According to statistic, parents commit fatal mistakes on their babies because of lack of sleep.

    Below is a list of the top fatal mistakes parents commit: Overdosing of vitamins. Babies may not need medicines, but they often have sleep vitamins.

    Because the parent is tired, they forget whether they had administered it to the baby. This results in multiple doses, which can lead to overdose.
  • Falling accidents.
    When parents are half-asleep, they would not notice the objects that could trip them. They could slip while holding the babies.

    They might drop the baby or tilt the crib by accident. They might also overlook dangerous surfaces that their babies could climb. They would have low reflexes and would become too slow to catch or prevent the baby from falling.
  • Suffocation and choking.
    Because of their sleepiness, parents might forget to take dangerous things away from their baby.

    They might overlook the small things that can choke their baby. They forget to get fabrics, pillows or other objects that can easily cover the face of their child.
  • Drowning.
    Many parents dose off while giving their babies a bath. This causes them to drop the baby in the tub.

    Since babies could not stand or cannot hold their body up on their own, they often remain submerged in the water for a long time. This can lead to death while in the tub or death by pulmonary edema, if the parents have a chance to get him out before he drowns.
  • SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
    Negligence is not the main cause of SIDS, but the failure of the parents to take care of their child may trigger it. Some parents may not place their child the right way when they are putting them to sleep because they are in a hurry to get some sleep, too.

    Some of them may not dress their child comfortably, which can make the baby turn and twist while sleeping. Some of them may not hold the baby right and cause them to break important cerebral bones.
  • Poorly developed babies.
    Babies do not only need sleep to help them develop. They also need a lot of stimulation from the people around them. You need to teach them before they could learn.

    Parents should talk and play with them to stimulate their vocabulary and understanding. When parents lack sleep, their energy to talk and play with their child is lower.

    They teach their babies only the simple things. Some of them do not interact with the baby and only give him what they he needs. According to psychologists, this may lead to poor mental and social development in babies.
  • Undernourished babies.
    According to statistics, many parents would hurry their child’s feeding session when they are tired. Some of them do not let the baby finish his bottle. They take out the bottle from the baby when he stops crying, so they can continue with their rest.

    Pediatricians warn that these may make the baby undernourished. The baby needs to finish his meal. When he pushes his bottle away, parents should put it back and let him finish it.

    If he does not get enough of his meal, he may not get the right amount of nutrients he needs. Some babies may cry for his next meal before the scheduled time. This may lead to overfeeding, which may cause side effects on the baby’s physical development.

Reasons Parents Can't Get Enough Sleep While Watching Over Their Babies

Babies sleep for almost two thirds of the day, but most parents still could not get enough sleep. Some blame it on the irrational sleeping patterns of their babies.

However, experts say that parents are not getting enough sleep because of their own doing and not because of their babies sleeping pattern.

Below are some of the real reasons parents cannot get enough sleep while watching over their babies.

  • They do not sleep when their baby is asleep.
    Babies, even newborns, tend to sleep longer at night. According to statistics, newborn can sleep for three to five hours at night. It is enough time for parents to sleep, too.

    However, instead of getting some sleep, parents use it to do other things. They would wash feeding bottles or prepare for their work the next day.

    By the time they are finished doing their personal business, they would only have two to three hours left to sleep. They might go to sleep tired and stress, too.
  • They do not prepare the things the baby needs ahead of time.
    Preparedness can make a big difference when watching over your baby. If you have prepared the things your baby needs beforehand, you would not feel pressured when he needs them.

    According to a study, parents who are always under pressure feel more tired. Thus, even if they get to sleep for three to five hours at night, they still feel sleepy upon waking up.

    Parents, who are well prepared, can finish the task easier and can return to sleep faster.
  • They do not teach their baby about nighttime and daytime.
    A study shows that a human body reacts differently when it is nighttime. Most of us get tired faster when we work at night.

    We sleep longer at night than in the morning. The same is true with the babies. However, babies do not know about the difference between nighttime and daytime.

    Experts say that helping the baby distinguish the nighttime from daytime can help his body adjust. It may help him sleep longer at night or at least, become less active.
  • They spoil the baby.
    One big mistake parents do when watching over their baby is to spoil him. When the baby wants to sleep while feeding, most parents would let him do it.

    Many parents would rush and soothe the child when he cries.

    Pediatricians suggest that parents should teach their baby to wait. Babies learn by observing things.

    When he notices that he could get the things he likes by crying, he would do it often. If you teach the baby to wait, he could learn to wait and calm down on his own.

    He may stop looking for you every time he wakes up. He would only look for you when he needs you.

    This could give you more time to do things you have to do. A short crying time can be good for your baby’s lungs, too.
  • They overtire the baby.
    Many parents think that when the baby is tired, he would fall asleep faster. This is true. Tired babies fall asleep faster, but they do not sleep longer.

    After they had rested for a while, their body will begin to feel the pain of being tired. They would wake up earlier than the usual.

    Since they are sensitive to pain, they would be crying until the pain subsides. It would be difficult to put them back to sleep.

How to Change Your Baby’s Sleep-Wake Pattern

The best way for you to get good sleep is to get it when your baby is having good sleep, too. However, there are times when your baby’s clock is different from your clock.

Your baby might sleep longer in the morning and wake longer at night. Meanwhile, you could not get your sleep because you have to watch him at night and have to do things in the morning.

One of the good solution for you to get a good night sleep is to change your babies pattern, so that you both sleep at night and wake in the morning.

Changing your baby’s pattern, however, may require a lot of trying and hard work. You may have to put up with your babies irritability for a while, too. Here are some tips on how to change your baby’s pattern:

1 – Teach him to sleep at night and be awake in the morning.

Babies tend to sleep more at night and should be awake more in the morning. There are things that the babies can only get in the morning, such as vitamin D from the sun. Thus, it would be good for him to sleep and wake in the normal hours of the day.

To teach your baby the difference between night and day, you could consider doing the following:

  • Take a stroll in the early morning and late in the afternoon. Your baby would start to notice that people should be awake at these hours and would try to follow it.
  • Dim the lights in the room at night. Babies are attracted to light. If you keep the room bright at night, he would think that it is still morning. He may extend his waking hours.
  • Let your baby see the night through the window. Make sure that the evening scene is serene though. When your baby sees that things are quiet when it is dark, he would think that he should be calm at night, too.
  • Massage the baby with dim lighting. Many parents bathe their baby and massage him when they want him to sleep. This makes the baby think that he needs to sleep after a bathe and a massage. He would not care whether it is night or day.

    Soon, you will have to start bathing your baby during the day to keep him alert. His body might still look forward to the massage. He might become uncomfortable if he could not have it.

    When massaging the baby after a bath, dim the lights. The dim lights will act as a cue that he should sleep after the massage.

2 – Let your baby do more activities in the morning and lesser activities near his sleeping time.

One reason babies and even bigger kids have a hard time sleeping because they get too excited about the activities near his sleeping time. Some parents would introduce lively social presentations or games before sleeping. These things would make the baby more alert and refuse to sleep.

Child psychologists suggest that you do lively social events in the morning and reduce the baby’s activity near his sleeping time. Here are some nighttime activities that you can use to calm your baby before sleeping time:

  • Read him picture books in a subtler way. Do not use big voices. The stories should involve babies or kids sleeping, too.

  • Try to caress his back and the back of his head as you read him the story. This would help him relax.

  • Let him listen to lullabies or white sounds and sway him delicately.

3 – Extend his waking hours and sleeping time gradually until his body has adjusted.

Do not force your baby to sleep longer at night and wake longer in the morning immediately. You should do it gradually. 

To keep him awake longer before his usual sleeping time, you can try these things:

  • Continue to entertain him when he starts to become sleepy. If the baby show the early signs of being sleepy, such as keeping quiet or stretching, keep your baby alert by tickling or conversing with him.
    This might help him forget about his sleepiness for a while. But, if you see him frown or he starts to avoid you, better put him to sleep.

  • Change his diaper in the middle of the feeding. Your baby might ask for a feeding before his usual sleeping time. Distract him by changing his diaper in the middle of the feeding.

    Your baby might fuss for a while, but would stop crying after you feed him the remaining milk. This could make your baby stay awake for 10 to 15 minutes longer.

  • Play an active song or sound while when he is sleepy. Your baby’s curiosity would keep him awake for at least 10 minutes if the song or the sound keeps him interested.
  • Pat or sway him before his waking hours. Younger babies are easy to fool. If you pat his back, butt, or back of his head or sway him before his waking hours, he would think that you are still putting him to sleep. He might keep sleeping for a few more minutes or sometimes longer.

  • Play a lullaby or white sound before his usual waking time. These sounds might make the baby stay relaxed.

    He would wake up for a couple of minutes, but would return to sleep after he recognized the lullaby or the sound.

4 – Impose a stricter waking and sleeping time.

When your baby is around 4 months old or older, you can start imposing a stricter waking and sleeping time.

When your baby’s usual waking time is 8 a.m., wake him up gently even if he slept late. You can let him take an extra nap during the day to keep up with his lack of sleep.

When your baby sleeps at 9 p.m. at night, make him sleepy before his sleeping time. You need to put him to sleep even if you feel that he is still enjoying the night or you still want to play with him.

Tips on Making your Baby Sleepy

The faster you put your baby to sleep, the faster you can get your sleep. Below are some steps to make your baby sleepy.

You have to remember that each baby have different preferences though. You may have to find one that your baby likes.

  • Try not to interact with him directly. If your baby still wants to be entertained, do it without interacting with him.

    Turn on the baby mobile or a lullaby. Talk to him by following the melody of the baby mobile or the lullaby.

  • Talk to him with sleepy tone and heavy eyes. When your baby is around six months old to 2 years, you could still fool them with the sleepy method.

    If you act sleepy, they would imitate your eyes and your breathing. They would fall asleep in no time.

  • Turn on some gentle natural chamomile and lavender scent in the room. 

    These two herbs are good for relaxing the body. Invest in some natural essential oil diffuser that is good for your baby.

  • Bath your baby with lavender scented products. Lavender scent helps make the baby sleepy.

    Bathing him lavender products or massaging him with lavender oil can make him become sleepy faster.

  • Start dimming the lights an hour before his sleeping time. Your baby would start to move slower and become more relaxed if you dim the lights.

    His vision would become limited. He would become less interested with other toys.