If you are a parent of an infant, or a caregiver to a loved one, chances are you aren’t getting enough sleep. Maybe it’s overnight feedings keeping you up, an elder that needs help throughout the night getting to the restroom, or just the stress that comes along with being a member of the sandwich generation; whatever the reason for your missed zzzz’s, it could be affecting more than just your energy levels.
Good Sleep = Safer Driving
If you’re tired, you can’t focus as well as you would if you had gotten enough sleep. If you find yourself yawning while driving, missing your turn, or slightly veering out of your lane, you may be too tired to drive.
According to the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, “fatigue is a factor in up to 21 per cent of motor vehicle collisions, resulting in about 400 deaths and 2,100 serious injuries every year. At 21 per cent, fatigue would rank as the third highest measurable cause of collisions behind alcohol impairment and speed-aggressive driving.”
The message here is that you NEED seven to nine hours to be focused enough to drive. Your life is more important than running out for milk. Take a nap first, or ask a friend or family member to run your errands.
Good Sleep = A Happier Healthier You
According to Statistics Canada, “Lack of sleep is associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and depression.” If getting enough sleep can help prevent common killers like heart disease and diabetes, that alone should be reason enough to stop treating sleep like a luxury.
Lack of sleep can also make you grumpy and therefore hard for your loved ones to be around. Getting enough with a newborn or elder can be a challenge though, but a good habit to get into is to nap when they are napping. If they’re up a lot during the night and then nap in the afternoon, you should be napping in the afternoon too.
Science also suggests that if you get enough sleep, you may be able to make better food choices. If you’re tired, you’re more likely to binge eat and choose junk food over healthier choices. There’s also a slew of naughty hormones that are released when you’re exhausted that cause you to crave junk food and cause your body to hold onto fat. Getting enough rest at night, or even napping during the day, can actually help you make better food choices and help your body to let go of the fat it tends to want to hold on to.
Ways to Get Better Sleep and More Sleep
You may think that the way you sleep now is how it will always be. If you’re tired and you know you don’t get enough sleep, there are some things you can do to get more sleep and to get better quality sleep:
- Fit some exercise into your day, but make sure you are doing it at least 3 hours before bedtime. Science has proven that exercising helps people fall asleep faster and it improves sleep quality. It can also give you a boost of energy, which is why you shouldn’t try to fit it in too close to bedtime.
- Cut out the caffeine. It may help you stay awake during the day, but it can also be causing you to stay awake at night. Once you start getting enough sleep, you may not even need it at all.
- Cut out the stress. If stress over money or family is keeping you up, you may need to seek out professional help to work through the problem. For example, if you’re worried about money, seeing a financial counselor can get you back on the right path. Get to the root of your stress, work through it, and hopefully you’ll be sleeping like a log in no time at all.
- Charge your phone and devices in the other room. It’s very tempting to roll over and check your email or answer a text when you can’t sleep. That electronic light stimulates your brain, and confuses it into thinking you should be awake and stay awake. Get rid of the temptation and that brain tricking light, and you just may finally start getting a good night’s rest.
- Kiddo not sleeping in their bed? An extra tot in the bed is a good reason you aren’t sleeping. Check out our post 5 Steps to Get Your Child Sleeping in Their Bed for help!
- Like we’ve mentioned before, rest when you can. If this means napping during the day, go for it. Sleep is a right, not a luxury. You need it, you deserve it, and a nap may be just what you need to turn your day around.
What tricks do you have for catching enough zzzz’s? Have you noticed a difference between when you get enough sleep and when you don’t? If you have a question or a comment, leave it below. We LOVE comments, and your tip could be just what someone else needs to finally get enough sleep.