Why Lack of Sleep Is A Dangerous Game for Parents

By Grace Cross

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Many of us have seen or experienced this scenario time and time again. We may have unknowingly contributed to this situation.

A very pregnant woman confides in her friends with children about her pregnancy. Her baby is moving constantly and she complains about how she is getting little sleep. The baby is shifting, moving, kicking and punching all hours of the night and this Mom to be does not know what to make of it. Her friends with children laugh. “Wait until you have children,” they chime in, “then you will know what little sleep is.” What they are saying is correct, that bouncing belly becomes a newborn baby in a few months and sleep is never the same again for a parent. However, sometimes, this conversation takes a new turn.

Other parents begin boasting about how they function on a lack of sleep. “I sleep three hours a day, work full time and then take the kids to their sports games,” A Mom will brag. Another father may chime in that he literally got no sleep last night from his children and got up, went to work and did a huge presentation. Many parents function on little sleep, but when a parent mentions that they did happen to get a good night sleep one night or that they do ‘sleep in until 8’ some days, the game is officially on.

If you sleep regularly, you lose.

Why is a lack of sleep in North America a synonym for achievement? It’s true that most parents run on very little sleep but is this something to be proud of? Surely it is an accomplishment to maintain a household, raise good children and keep your job but is lack of sleep something we should accept? Many sleep experts don’t think so.

Perhaps if a parent is not getting enough sleep this should not be something that is celebrated. Perhaps that parent needs help from their community, friends or family. Maybe they just need some down time. But the game has to stop where it becomes some sort of war on parents who do get in their precious hours and a boasting achievement to those who function with little to no sleep.

A parent may feel invincible when they, on two hours of sleep, get the kids off to school, have supper on the table and make all of those sports events. You are truly remarkable if you can function that way, day after day. But, you are not invincible. It does take a toll on your body and your mind and can limit your physical and cognitive abilities.

It would be naïve to say, “Just get a good sleep!” Most parents just can’t call in sick to work to catch up on some previous zees, many parents are single parents and the weight of parenthood and income earning relies solely on them and them alone. But when these parents hear others scoff or laugh when they do get a good sleep that one night, society itself has a problem.

Let’s praise parents if they get a good sleep, let’s help each other get a good sleep. Forgive yourself if you do not make that football practice once or that track meet. Don’t take on every extracurricular or volunteer job. It’s okay if you have a lazy weekend once in a while (if you can) and most of all, you are a great parent if you do get a great sleep.

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