From Our Blog: Tips to Help Improve Sleep for Busy Moms and Dads

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Today’s post about how to improve sleep for parents is courtesy of Danielle Shea Tan of Healthy Mamas for Happy Families.

Do you long for the days when sleep was both restful and plentiful? You aren’t alone! Most moms and dads are exhausted and barely keeping it going with coffee and adrenaline. In fact, a survey administered to over 1000 parents in the UK found that parents lose more than 6 months of sleep during the first two years of a child’s life. POOF! That’s sleep just pulled right out from under us. The verdict is in: parents need to work to improve sleep habits.

5 Reasons Why Working Parents Need Sleep

Besides being a real drag, missing out on valuable sleep negatively impacts our ability to manage work and life while still being the best parents we can be. Here are five critical reasons why working moms and dads like you and I must take action to improve our sleep this week. Regular healthy sleep will:
  1. Boost metabolism
  2. Reduce "mommy brain" and other cognitive disruption
  3. Ensure a strong immune system to fight colds, flus, and other bugs
  4. Stimulate your "creative juices"
  5. Lower stress, making it easier to be patient with your kiddo

3 Tips for Tired Parents to Improve Sleep

Sleep is just like any other healthy habit, it needs to be nurtured and worked into our schedules or it can easily get lost in the chaos of everyday life. For some of us, restful sleep comes naturally, but for others we need to work to improve sleep daily. Whatever your relationship with sleep, the simple “busy parent approved” steps below can support a healthier night’s rest.
  1. Remove barriers hurting your sleep. Parents are busy and overworked, but when we commit to something, it happens. We throw awesome birthday parties while still meeting deadlines at work that seem impossible. We’ve driven across two states in a blizzard to get the last elf on the shelf that we promised our little girl. To improve our sleep, we need the same level of commitment that we give everyone else. This means doing whatever it takes to make sleep a priority. Ask yourself, “what is getting in the way of sleep?” Now, take action to remove this barrier. Hire a sleep consultant if your child is keeping you up. Unplug the television. Buy those expensive noise-blocking curtains. Take measures needed to follow through on your commitment to yourself.
  2. Take action to resolve sleep issues. There are many types of sleep issues. For some it takes 30 minutes or more to fall asleep, while others may fall asleep easily only to wake up at 3 a.m. and begin tossing and turning. Sleep struggles can be related to a host of addressable health challenges, from unbalanced hormones (low progesterone levels disrupted my sleep) to untreated asthma. If you can’t find a sleep routine that works for you, it’s time to take action before any serious health issues transpire. For severe sleep struggles, I may suggest that my clients try acupuncture. The research shows acupuncture is beneficial for promoting positive sleep as well as overall good health. If acupuncture doesn’t provide results (or you’re nervous about tiny needles), visit your primary care physician for a more thorough assessment.
  3. Create a sleep routine that works for you. Life’s different with kids. Creating a sleep routine is one of those things we have to do as parents to keep our sanity. It’s right up there with scheduling time for romance, a little less exciting but sometimes necessary. As a working parent, you’ve got a lot going on, which means your mind and body need time to unwind before drifting into sweet slumber. Start by determining how you like to relax and recreate this experience before bedtime. You’ll look forward to resting and will eventually head to bed earlier. Test out a few sleep routines until you find one that works for you. If sleep routines aren’t inducing restful sleep, it’s time to seek help per step #2. Some tried-and-true sleep inducing habits include the following:
  • Breathing in 100% pure lavender oil and putting it on pressure points
  • Reading a relaxing book
  • Listening to ocean sounds (my favorite app: Relax Melodies)
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Journaling
  • Drinking a hot cup of chamomile tea
  • Meditative breathing or yoga nidra (my favorite app: Yoga Nidra Lite)

I’ve always been a light sleeper and since getting married and having a child, my sleep challenges have been extensive. But, I’m a better mother, wife, friend, and health coach when sleep is a top priority. I work at it daily and I hope this article inspires you to make room to improve sleep in your life.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2014 but has since been updated.

Danielle Shea Tan, founder of Healthy Mamas for Happy Families and certified health coach, helps busy moms and their families nurture healthy habits and face nutritional challenges and roadblocks with an upbeat attitude and manageable solutions. You can find Danielle coaching parents and caregivers on raising healthy families virtually and in-person around the Boston area. She’s been frequently featured in local nutrition, lifestyle and health blogs, magazines and radio shows including Boston Magazine and WATD’s Mommy Business.

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About the Author
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Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Busy working parent tips to improve sleep|Tips to improve sleep for parents|Mother and baby|Mother and daughter on the couch|sleep tips|how parents can improve sleep