Why Sleep Is A Matter of Life And Death
by Christina L. Moreland
Ask any new mom if she’s getting sleep with a baby at home and she’ll look at you with hollowed tired eyes and say optimistically, “We’re getting 4-hour stretches now!” It’s no secret parents with a baby anywhere from newborn age to just a few months old are like walking zombies. As new parents you expect to be woken frequently, midnight feedings, and you expect it takes time to get a baby on a manageable sleep routine.
But many parents are experiencing severe sleep deprivation many months after a baby turns a year old or even older, and many of them don’t know it’s the direct result of their own mishandling of the nighttime routine that could actually lead to problematic long-term sleep patterns with their growing child. It’s certainly not their fault – we’re not given a customized report from our baby when they’re born that says, “Here are my sleep issues, Mom, and here’s how to handle them…” Each child is unique, that’s certainly true. But more research points to the fact that parents have a direct impact on the sleep patterns their baby experiences AND these early patterns lead to long-term sleep patterns.
Research by the National Sleep Foundation has concluded that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. And most new parents don’t even know that their sleep is just as important, if not more so, than their new baby’s.
In an April, 2015 article in the Huffington Post, DrowsyDriving.org released these statistics:
- 168 million people have driven drowsy within the past year
- 37 percent of adult drivers say they have actually fallen asleep at the wheel
- 1,550 deaths occur each year because of fatigue-related crashes
- $12.5 billion in losses each year because of fatigue-related crashes
- Getting less than 6 hours of sleep at night TRIPLES your risk of having a fatigue-related accident
- After 18 hours awake, a person is considered “impaired” or as if he or she were “legally drunk”
If you’ve been following the Secrets of the Super Moms blog for any amount of time, you know that I deeply care about helping to create healthy families and healthy homes. Sleep is one of the most important things you can offer your family and is part of a healthy, balanced life. And in fact, in my book, Secrets of the Super Moms, I make this very bold statement:
Other than actual food, the opportunity to sleep is the next best thing you can give your baby.
Please give them this gift.
If your baby is sleep-deprived, and you’re sleep-deprived, how do you think this is affecting your daily performance, even to do something as simple as driving a car? 1 in 5 accidents is caused by drowsy driving, but besides affecting your daily alertness, it impacts your performance at work, your ability to focus and concentrate, your ability (or not) to lose baby weight – all of these things can be related to your sleep.
But most parents don’t know they are making simple mistakes that are actually causing the sleep problems. And there are some simple things new parents can do at home to help get more sleep for the entire family:
- Create a regular Bedtime Routine and Nighttime Sleep Schedule with the same elements each and every night so your baby learns to recognize this time as his “sleepy time.”
- Keep your routine at the same time every night
- After 3 months of age, drop all nighttime feedings
- Avoid the mistake of putting your baby / small child down to bed too late. Many babies should go to sleep as early as 6:30 or 7 p.m. but often parents keep them up as late as 10 p.m. or later. That’s way too late for a baby to get sufficient sleep and for him or her to be set up properly to nap well the next day.
- Put babies to bed awake, but drowsy, and after their regular bedtime schedule of events: last feeding, bath time, rock and cuddle time, etc.
- Incorporate what I call “Super Soothing Sleep Surroundings…”
- Dark, quiet room
- Comfortable temperature
- Comfortable bedding and non-suffocating love-y toy (if your baby is older than 6 months and has good head control)
- White noise machine turned on low for soft, repetitive and consistent sound
- Rock and cuddle time that includes reading a couple of books before bed
For more sleep tips, like these, watch this VIDEO to learn how you can quickly and easily create a Bedtime Routine and Nighttime Sleep Schedule for your baby or small child that will lead to more sleep for the whole family.
Christina Moreland, author of Secrets of the Super Moms, is the Super Mom of a bright, spunky nine-year-old and sweet and sensitive five-year-old. She is passionate about fitness and all sorts of parenting and childcare topics. Her goal with this column is to share fun and interesting information to help other parents create healthy homes. Follow Christina’sSecrets of the Super Moms page on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/SecretsOfTheSuperMom. You can also follow her on Twitter @supermombook or visit her YouTube Channel athttps://www.youtube.com/SecretsOfTheSuperMom.
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