The joys of parenthood can bring along their own particular challenges. Have you ever felt stressed, overwhelmed, unfocused — unable to concentrate on anything, and just plain irritable? Have you bit your spouse’s head off in response to a casual remark? Do you wish there was a simple way to improve your parenting performance?
While there is no silver bullet, no magic pill you can take to become a better parent, there is one simple thing you can do to start becoming a better parent overnight. This one simple thing will get you on your way to developing the parenting superpowers listed below, and will produce even more benefits in your life.
This is no pie-in-the-sky, touchy-feely mumbo-jumbo. Scientific research has demonstrated that it works. You just have to do your part, which generally consists of lying down, closing your eyes, and going to sleep. Yes, sleep.
1. More patience
Sleep is not optional. It’s an active, crucial process during which our metabolism and our hormonal levels change. Our bodies are healing themselves and performing critical housekeeping functions. Those functions include our brains. Lack of sleep, also known as sleep deprivation, leaves us irritable and more likely to overreact to environmental annoyances, which from time to time may include children or spouses. Getting a good night’s sleep can help you be more patient and keep you from overreacting to little things. Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per day. How much sleep are you getting?
2. Greater focus
Getting our full dose of sleep also helps us develop greater alertness and focus, so we can be more efficient in all the things we do, like giving our full attention to our children when they need it. “Our full dose of sleep” means that we do not depend on the alarm clock to wake us from deep sleep, reaching for that snooze button and wishing we could sleep just a little longer. How many times do you press that snooze button?
3. Greater creativity
Creativity springs from a rested mind. Whether we’re talking about creative ways to spend quality time with our kids during summer vacation or creative ways to handle our daily tasks so we don’t have to rush through our days putting out fires, we need a rested brain to be creative. Some people say they are most creative after working through the night on some project. This is an illusion caused by lack of sleep. Are you working through the wee hours?
4. Better performance at work
“Hey,” you say, “that’s not a parenting superpower!” Yes it is. Frustrations and problems at work can certainly affect you mood when you get home. This is specially true if you have to take work home and can’t enjoy what otherwise would be your family life. Lack of sleep leads to lower performance at work (see #2 and #3, above). It also impairs your ability to judge your own performance. Then your boss — or your client — call you to review your work and, surprise! Are you taking your job home?
5. Better weight management
“OK,” you say, “that’s certainly not a parenting superpower!” Think again. If you’re overweight, perhaps even obese, your weight affects your whole life. It affects your ability to play games and sports with your children, and it totally wrecks your Hide and Seek skills. And what does sleep have to do with your weight? Plenty. Researchers have discovered that the stress caused by lack of sleep affects the levels of certain hormones in your body, including hormones that regulate fat levels. People who chronically get less sleep than they need tend to gain excess weight. How fast is your waistline expanding?
6. Lower risk of hypertension
Called “the silent killer,” because it often presents no symptoms until serious problems appear, hypertension is related to stress, which can result from lack of sleep, and obesity, which is in turn related to lack of sleep, as we saw above. Though the way obesity and hypertension are connected is complex, and beyond the scope of this article, the connection itself is clear enough. As for the relationship between hypertension and parenting, it’s hard to be a good parent when you’re dead. When was the last time you had your blood pressure checked?
7. Lower risk of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes abnormal pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses can last from seconds to minutes. This condition, too, may in some cases be related to excessive weight. So… getting enough sleep can help you prevent weight gain that can lead to sleep apnea, which will disturb your sleep. Confused yet?
People with sleep apnea may not even know they have it, unless their spouses or others notice the episodes, but the effects can be substantial. They may experience fatigue, moodiness, depression and inability to concentrate. This is no fun for the individuals or their families. Are you fatigued during the day?
8. Lower risk of diabetes
Chronic lack of sleep is also related to an increased risk of diabetes. It disturbs the hormonal balance in the body, affecting how the body processes glucose, and, as we saw, can contribute to obesity, which is itself linked to diabetes. Diabetes is no fun, and can have serious complications, including blindness, cardiovascular disease, kidney failure and nerve damage. Sometimes amputations may be necessary. All these complications can generally cramp your style with your family. Symptoms of diabetes include constant thirst and urinating very frequently. Do you have a history of diabetes in your family?
9. Greater safety on the road
Driving sleepy is like driving drunk. Every year, thousands of sleepy drivers crash, hurting themselves and others. Many of these accidents result in deaths. How will your family life be affected if you die in a car crash because you were driving drowsy? Even if you survive, what will be the physical and emotional effects of the crash? What if you have caused someone’s death — maybe the death of a member of your family? Are you driving drowsy?
10. Greater self-esteem
Having achieved all the above, you will naturally feel better about yourself, specially knowing that you have kept yourself from gaining excess weight. Furthermore, your well-rested, alert brain will be better able to resist depression and value your many wonderful qualities, such as the intelligence that led you to follow all this sage advice. Greater self-esteem will help you manage your children, and you will set a great example. Are you ready to shine?
11. Better sex
Being well-rested and healthy will help keep your libido strong, and a healthy physical appearance is one of the sexiest attributes you can have. Instead of falling on your bed like a bag of laundry, you’ll be able to entertain other possibilities. This will in turn improve your mood when you spend time with your little rascals. Are you ready to rock?
12. Heat vision
OK, you can’t get heat vision by getting a good night’s sleep. I don’t know how to get heat vision. This is upsetting, because I’d really like to get it. But you have to admit that “12 Parenting Superpowers” sounds better than “11 Parenting Superpowers,” right? Maybe you can think of another Parenting Superpower you can get with a good night’s sleep. Or maybe you know how to get heat vision. Either way, please leave a comment. Specially about that heat vision thing. That would be really cool.
Comments? Questions? Let me hear from you. I’ll answer every email I get.
Get FREE updates! If you enjoyed this post, get FREE UPDATES for future posts by clicking here. Just enter your email address and click on the button.
Also check out Raising Children on Planet Earth, my no-nonsense, I-live-on-this-planet manual for parents of young children, available now on Amazon.com. Click here. Download the Kindle version and start reading right now.
Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.