When my children were babies I felt as if I was in a weird sleep deprivation experiment. It was the primary goal of this little bundle of joy to wake me just as I drifted off to sleep — repeatedly. If you have had children you’ve been there. If you are new to parenthood it’s happening right now.
The experts agree that occasional sleep issues aren’t a problem, but if you sleep less than 6 hours a night you could have health issues develop. High blood pressure and issues with your immune system to name just two. I know that I’m miserable when I don’t sleep enough. The problem that sets me on edge is the possible contribution to weight gain. Who wants to hear that? Then there is reduced creativity and our problem solving skills are affected. Did I mention weight gain? No kidding, that could be an issue because of decreased metabolism, from too little sleep. This is not a happy picture. Another symptom is irritability — about weight gain no doubt! Can you tell how tired I am? I’m irritated and can’t focus my eyes. So how much sleep did I get last night? 5.59 hours. The night before? 5 hours and 6 minutes.
So, how much sleep is enough? The National Institutes of Health say that the average adult sleeps less than 7 hours a night. Well, that isn’t enough for most people. According to the NIH a healthy adult needs between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep to function at their peak. Children and teens need more. The chart below shows the sleep needed for healthy living.
|Average Sleep Needs|
|Newborns (0-2 months)||12 – 18|
|Infants (3 months to 1 year)||14 – 15|
|Toddlers (1 to 3 years)||12 – 14|
|Preschoolers (3 to 5 years)||11 – 13|
|School-aged children (5 to 12 years)||10 – 11|
|Teens and preteens (12 to 18 years)||8.5 – 10|
|Adults (18+)||7.5 – 9|
What can you do to fix this issue? I would like to suggest a few things to help you get settled down at night.
1. Schedule sleep into your date book. Allow yourself time to get enough sleep.
2. Plan a lovely relaxing bedtime routine. Experts agree it shouldn’t be watching television but rather a bath or shower. They try to read for a while.
3. Don’t allow yourself to fall asleep before or right after dinner. Get clothes ready for the next day, or do the dishes. Then start your routine for bed.
My routine is the same every night. I set up the coffee. Let the dog out. Then put all my vitamins in a little Tupperware cup for the morning. Let the dog in. Upstairs I shower, brush teeth and set my clothes out for the morning. Once I climb in bed I read for almost 60 seconds before I’m ready to turn the light out.
Get the sleep you need. Get enough rest so you can feel better about life. Just think, getting that sleep might just give your body the boost it needs to get your added weight off.