Insomnia can be particularly hard on parents, because taking care of kids while managing work and other tasks requires so much energy. Some parents are more likely than others to have insomnia—for example, one National Sleep Foundation poll found that 74 percent of stay-at-home moms reported symptoms of insomnia. And parents are more likely to drive drowsy, meaning that sleep disturbances can pose a safety risk as well.
Insomnia in parenthood can come from having to multitask and balance busy lives, complicated schedules, and multiple sets of needs on a daily basis. Some parents find it hard to be “on” all day, managing kids and work demands, and then disconnect completely enough to rest well at night. Instead, lying down in bed brings spinning thoughts of to-do lists and worries about family matters, both small and large.
Create a peaceful sleep environment, wind down, and practice relaxation techniques–these are all important ways to protect sleep as a parent. Make sure your room is comfortable, with a good mattress, pillows, and bedding, and is uncluttered and peaceful (some parents put energy into their children’s rooms but forget that their own sleep environment is also important). Disconnect from electronics such as phones and tablets for an hour before bedtime and try not to check emails or go online close to bedtime or in the middle of the night. If you have trouble falling asleep, do a relaxation exercise while lying in bed. These exercises can be very helpful, especially if you practice them regularly. Since your sleep is tied to your child’s sleep, talk to your pediatrician if your child is not sleeping through the night.
To a certain degree, sleep troubles are inherent to parenthood. But you should not let bad sleep become a way of life. If you’ve tried to apply sleep hygiene tips and relaxation exercises and still have trouble sleeping, call your doctor to talk about insomnia and other treatment options.