Sleep Health Is Maternal Health: Why Better Sleep Habits Matter

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Many pregnant women anticipate that the next few years of their lives will be filled with sleepless nights and tired days. While it feels like common sense to think that having a child can mean less sleep, few people ask why we have to sacrifice rest for parenthood, and it’s time that we do.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 74% of stay-at-home moms report insomnia but working parents can be just as affected to, experiencing problems with performance and even safety risks such as driving to risk with sleep deprivation.

Lack of sleep does more than just cause parents to be tired. Not getting rest can create serious havoc such as causing hormonal changes, weight gain, lack of concentration, weight gain, and a weakened immune system. When you’re trying to devote your time to caring for a newborn baby or busy toddler, these are the last things you should be dealing with.

In fact, studies show that better sleep makes you a better parent, as exhaustion is likely to make parents resort to permissive decisions they may not otherwise choose if rested.

Parents Want to Sleep, but Habits Don’t Change
The infant sleep industry which includes specialized cribs, bassinets, blankets, and other products to help babies fall and stay asleep is a 325 million dollar industry. Parents are willing to pay for a good night’s rest but many end up disappointed in products that do little to nothing to solve the problem.

Why? Devices and smart technology do little to address sleep habits.

So, how do you get the nights of sleep from your pre-baby days and why is it important to spend just as much time investing in you and your baby’s sleep health as you do as something like nutrition?

Why Early Sleep Habits Are Important
Healthy sleep habits are something that follows us through every developmental life stage and those habits start from as young as infancy. So instead of accepting bad sleep, why not use the time with your child to instill positive sleep habits that can set a positive foundation for toddler years and beyond?

If your child has bad sleep habits, the many effects of exhaustion aren’t just something that happens to you or your partner. Research indicates that poor sleep habits that begin early in childhood can lead to problems like obesity, poor academic performance, and learning difficulties.

For many, better sleep simply begins with shifting their philosophy. Sleep health is part of total health and good sleep doesn’t have to be something parents have to wait for—better habits can start in one night.

Consistency Is Key
Learn about your child’s developmental stages and their rest needs. For example, between naps and nighttime sleeping, a six-month-old should be sleeping about 15 hours a day.

A good way to gauge your baby or toddler’s sleep health is to see if they are getting close to their recommended hours of sleep and falling and staying asleep easily (depending on their age). However, if sleep is continually sporadic or seems to be a battle every night, it may be time to look at strategies to help soothe your child and get him or her into a more regular nap and bedtime routine.

Don’t Carry All of the Weight—Communicate!
If you feel like the pressure of your child’s sleep schedule is overwhelming—ask for help. Dividing up nights with your partner as you establish a routine can be a helpful way to ensure you have your own healthy sleep routine. It’s also okay to ask for professional help.

Sleep consultants are infant and toddler sleep experts that can help families get their nights back to normal by providing in-home or remote sleep training. For working parents, the benefit of an in-home consultant can provide both peace of mind and the supportive care needed to get baby and parent rest back on track for good.

Don’t Feel Bad if Regression Happens
Children change and go through many stages. Sleep regression is normal and as long as you’re consistent with your plan of action, you can expect success over the long term.

However, you don’t have to hold your exhaustion up as proof of your parenthood or accept sleepless nights. You and your baby deserve a better night’s sleep.


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Featured image: iStock 

Melissa has 4 children which led her to learn the importance of instilling healthy sleep habits. As a Certified Sleep Consultant, Melissa has developed an approach to sleep training that is tailored to each individual family’s unique goals. Having worked with hundreds of families, Melissa has become a go-to resource for parents.

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