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Published on July 28, 2017

couple sleeping

Sleep Tips for Moms (and Dads)

You have a never-ending to-do list. But because you’re also a parent, you never put yourself on the list! One of the best things you can do is make yourself a priority — eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep.

While we often associate lack of sleep with parents of babies, sleep loss is found in parents raising children of all ages. The nightly feedings of an infant transform into young children nudging mom and dad awake because there’s a monster in the closet. In a blink of an eye, you have a teenager arriving home from practice at 9:30 p.m. only to start on homework. Now we have sleepy parents and children!

“Physical, mental and emotional health are affected when we don’t get enough shut eye,” said Amy St. Aubin, CNP, women’s health specialist at Avera Medical Group Obstetrics & Gynecology. “Parents, for example, may be less patient if their child spills a glass of milk, does poorly on his schoolwork, or forgets her lunch at home.”

While you may turn to your daily cup (or cups) of coffee, getting more quality sleep is a better answer when you’re in a fog.

Follow St. Aubin’s sleep tips:

Eliminate screen time. After climbing into bed (finally!), it’s tempting to indulge in a little social media on your smartphone or iPad. Resist the temptation! “The glow of our devices prevents your brain from winding down, preparing your body for sleep,” said St. Aubin. According to Business Insider, the light inhibits the brain from producing melatonin, the “getting-sleepy” hormone.

Put off some chores. We know the feeling — “I can squeeze in just one more thing!”— but allow yourself some nights here and there to put off unloading the dishwasher, folding towels, sweeping the floor, etc. “Just because you’re a mom doesn’t mean you have to work yourself into exhaustion every day,” reminds St. Aubin. “If you’re tired, honor that; your energy levels will make you more effective the next day.”

Write down what’s on your mind. Sometimes we climb into bed at a decent hour, only to be kept awake by swirling thoughts. “Keep a pad of paper and a pencil on your nightstand. Write down the things that are keeping you awake — tomorrow’s to-do list, appointments you have to remember, what you need to remember for work,” said St. Aubin. “You’ll sleep better knowing you are prepared for tomorrow.”

Wind down. Do something relaxing before bed every night to help your body and mind wind down. Read, stretch or rub lotion on your hands. If you don’t get a lot of “you” time during the day, this is a great time to choose a quiet activity you enjoy.

Plan ahead. At 8 p.m., the last thing you want to hear is, “I have a science project due tomorrow and I don’t know what to do…” What science project?! On Sunday, gather the troops and go over what your family’s schedule looks like for the week. Nailing down soccer games, bake sales, school projects and practices before Monday hits can prevent any unwanted surprises or late nights during the week.

“When you’re a parent, it’s important to make your well-being a priority,” said St. Aubin. “One of the best things you can do for your children is model a healthy lifestyle, and that includes sleep.”

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