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Parenthood: Blame sleep deprivation for making it the hardest job in the world

father-and-baby-asleep

So much of the early success of parenthood rests on sleep. Think about it. Babies need their sleep to develop their brains and bodies; also, early experiences with sleep (both positive and negative) can shape lifelong sleep habits. Meanwhile, mothers and fathers are robbed of sleep, which can lead to poor health, poor mood, and poor judgment.

Parenthood has been described as the hardest job in the world. Yet, despite this distinction, it's considered normal to suffer through months, even years, of the sleep deficit imposed upon these first-line caregivers of newborns and toddlers.

Families are born the moment a first baby is brought into the world, but it's not just babies that need their sleep. All members in a family directly caring for the new little ones need help with achieving adequate, quality sleep, and not just for a few nights at the beginning.

While being sleep deprived is a reasonable expectation for new parents to acknowledge going into the business of family building, there's no rule that says any parent has to suffer through it.

Writer Katie Letourneau correctly asserted in Huffington Post's Sleep+Wellness section on November 2, 2016 that "sleep deprivation shouldn’t be considered ‘the norm’ for parents." SHC heartily agrees.

While jokes about sleep-deprived parenthood take the edge off, is it really a badge of honor to laugh about one's sleep deprivation as "part of the job," or is it tragic that we are expected to just endure it, no questions asked?

Frankly, sleep deprivation is not something anyone can endure for very long without paying major consequences in physical, emotional, and mental health. What kinds of parents can we be for Baby, then, if we are battling chronic illness, mood disorders, and memory problems? And what kinds of healthy living examples are we offering them when we don't prioritize sleep ourselves?

Getting adequate sleep won't make parenting the easier job in the world, but it sure will help bolster you on days when the challenges seem insurmountable. Getting your Zzzs will also help you make better long-term decisions about how to raise your kids as well as provide better modeling for your children to learn from.

SHC recently found these interesting links to the problems of (and even solutions to) sleep deprivation among parents and caregivers.

Bringing up Baby

Understanding how newborn, infant, and toddler sleep is different (from each other and from adult sleep) is useful for new parents so they can better know if their young actually have sleep problems. Information is power and can alleviate much of the anxiety that leads to poor sleep for parents of youngsters.

The Sleepy Father

The Sleepy Mother

Sandwiched?

Solutions

Feature photo credit: “It’s a long day,” by twang2218 via Visual Hunt || CC BY-NC-SA

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