Motherhood is a dream come true for many women. But once the reality of the responsibilities of mommying set in, you find yourself dreaming of sleep. Diapering, feeding, laundry, house-cleaning, grocery shopping, and tending to everyone’s needs leave you burnt out at the end of the day. And that’s not even the whole list of things to do. Some moms work and juggle parenting all at once.
However, parental duties and exhaustion can lead to trouble sleeping. Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep can affect your mood, energy, and ability to function daily. Continue reading for more on how sleep deprivation affects mood and tips on improving sleep, mood, and your overall well-being. With quality sleep, you can keep calm and carry on with the activities of daily life.
The Importance of Sleep
The Sleep Foundation describes sleep as an essential function that recharges your body and mind. You can tell you’re rejuvenated if you wake up feeling alert and refreshed. Your brain will also function properly, allowing you to think clearly, concentrate, and remember.
Long-term lack of sleep (sleep deprivation) can interfere with these functions and reduce physical or mental health. Chronic loss of sleep means you’re not getting the 7-9 hours of (uninterrupted) nightly sleep recommended for adults. Stress from work or parenting, having newborns, and inconsistent bedtime are primary factors that contribute to sleep deprivation.
Sleep Deprivation and How It Affects Mood
As a mom juggling work and caring for your little ones, getting enough quality sleep is key to staying focused and functional. Realistically, though, moms with children under 6 aren’t getting at least 7 hours of uninterrupted shut-eye. Many moms experience interrupted sleep because their kids wake or need care during the night. Single moms struggle the most with sleeping.
Sleep interruption can go on for up to six years after the birth of your first child. Not getting enough Zs for a prolonged period eventually takes a toll on mental health and mood, and can lead to mood disorders. Sleep deficits affect mood due to a drop in serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the main hormone that stabilizes your mood and sense of happiness or well-being.
Poor sleep is associated with fatigue, irritability, stress, anger, anxiety, “mommy burnout,” and depression. According to the Sleep Foundation, it may also worsen the symptoms of postpartum depression, also called the “baby blues.” Meanwhile, a recent study found that sleep disturbances caused mothers to be less sensitive to their infants’ needs.
Sleep Deprivation and Working Moms
Working and caring for kids can make you feel like a superwoman. But employment often contributes to further sleep deficits. According to an Amerisleep survey conducted using the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), working moms slept half an hour less than their stay-at-home mom peers. In the long run, being sleep-deprived often leads to reduced functioning both at work and home.
5 Tips for Improving Sleep and Mood
Experts advise new parents to consider their own sleep needs while balancing child care and work responsibilities. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that normal sleep time led to a dramatic improvement in mood. Not only that, sleep has a positive effect on your overall mental health and well-being. So pause for a moment and think of how the following tips can help sleep-deprived moms like you improve nighttime shut-eye:
#1. Prioritize Sleep
Avoid putting off sleep when your set bedtime comes around, especially if that last load of laundry or next episode of your favorite TV show can wait until tomorrow. You’ll feel refreshed and be more productive the next day by turning in on time and maximizing the quantity and quality of your sleep.
#2. Set a bedtime alarm
Prioritizing sleep involves setting an alarm for bedtime consistency. Decide what time you need to wake up in the morning. Then, count backward and set your alarm to allow for at least 7 hours of sleep. Remember to give yourself an extra 30-60 minutes to unwind before bed.
#3. Create a consistent bedtime routine
Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine for you and your kids helps the family to wind down together. This can include warm baths, dimming the lights, and bedtime stories in bed for the kids. For you, relaxing can include reading a book or listening to calming music.
#4. Ditch the caffeine
The FDA recommends a maximum of 4-5 cups of coffee (400 milligrams) a day. Coffee, like other caffeinated drinks, is a stimulant enjoyed for its ability to boost energy and focus. Try to end caffeine intake at least 6 hours before bed to prevent trouble falling or staying asleep.
#5. Put off serious discussions for tomorrow
Talking about serious matters right before bed increases the risk of conflicts, anger, and anxiety especially between partners. Nighttime conflicts can lead to restlessness, trouble sleeping, and poor mood the next day. So if you and your husband find yourselves discussing your son’s last detention right before bed, agree to “table” the conversation and revisit it during the day when you’re both less tired or fatigued. You’ll communicate more effectively when you’re both more alert.
Final Thoughts on Sleep and Mood
Imagine how you’ll keep calm and carry on because you’ve decided your Zs are just as important as everyone else’s. A well-rested mom is a happy mom. Good sleep improves how you feel and function the next day. It also impacts the quality of caregiving, production at work, and helps improve your relationship with your child and partner.
sunshinebehaviorialhealth.com – How Sleep Affects Mental Health and How to Improve Rest
sleepfoundation.org – Why Do We Need Sleep?
cdc.gov – Are You Getting Enough Sleep?
latimes.com – Single Moms are the Most Sleep-Deprived People in America, Report Says
academic oup.com – Long-Term Effects of Pregnancy and Childbirth on Sleep Satisfaction and Duration of First-Time and Experienced Mothers and Fathers
sleepfoundation.org – How Does Being a New Parent Affect Sleep?
pubmed.gov – Mothers’ Postpartum Sleep Disturbance is Associated with the Ability to Sustain Sensitivity Toward Infants
amerisleep.com – Parental Sleep Deprivation Is Tough
med.harvard.edu – Sleep and Mood
jcsm.aasm.org – Caffeine Effects on Sleep Taken 0, 3, or 6 Hours Before Going to Bed