Sleep tips for parents

Schlaf-Tipps für Eltern

Job, children, household, everyday duties - family life is demanding and requires a lot of energy. If the little ones can't sleep at night or demand everything from their parents during the day, sleepless nights and tiredness are often pre-programmed. Here are some simple tips to help mums and dads improve their sleep patterns and get through the day more alert.

Table of contents

      1. Sleep & family life
      2. Sleep tips for parents
      3. Tips for the afternoon & evening
      4. Tips for the night
      5. Tips for the morning
      6. Conclusion

        Sleep & Family Life

        In order to take care of the kids, prepare meals, plan appointments and organize everyday life, parents are the first ones on their feet and the last ones in bed in the evening. When the little ones can't sleep at night or demand everything from you during the day, sleepless nights and tiredness are often pre-programmed. In order to cope with the turbulence of everyday life, however, a good and restful night's sleep is very important, because mum and dad have to look after the children as well as themselves and have to be particularly resilient and efficient in family life.

        Children can disturb their parents' night sleep for up to six years, but young parents in particular suffer from a lack of sleep and sleep disorders. This is due, among other things, to children's need for sleep. They need the most sleep in the first few years of life and only learn to adapt their sleep and wake phases to the natural day-night rhythm as they get older. For this reason, mothers and fathers must repeatedly interrupt their own sleep and forego important hours of regeneration.

        Development of sleep phases

        Grafik: Entwicklung von Schlafverhalten

        The results of a long-term study by the German Institute for Economic Research also show that mothers sleep on average one hour less in the first three months of their child's life than before! However, a persistent lack of sleep does us immense harm and not only leads to bad moods, food cravings or headaches, but also weakens the immune system in the long term and impairs health.

        You can read more about this in our article How much sleep do we need?

        Although we are of course happy to put up with this for our charges, here are the most important sleep tips for parents to get the most out of the remaining hours of sleep and get through the day more alert.

        Sleep tips for parents

        #1 Tips for the afternoon & evening

        Schlaf-Tipps für Eltern: Geschichten vorlesen

        Make the most of naps

        The good news first: missing sleep can be made up! After a short night or a busy morning, a quick power nap at lunchtime will help you make up for your sleep deficit and build up energy for the rest of the day. For example, use the time when your child also takes a nap for a short recovery nap. Find out how to take a power nap efficiently here.

        Develop a routine

        Developing a regular sleep schedule and maintaining an evening routine will help the whole family rest better and find sleep more easily. Fixed bedtimes and evening rituals, such as brushing your teeth together or reading aloud, will get you in the right mood for the night and help you get some well-deserved sleep after a busy day.

        Relax before sleep

        Excitement disturbs the process of falling asleep in the evening. Therefore, some time before bedtime, make sure to reduce exciting or stressful activities for the family so that you and your children can slowly relax. Additionally, you can dim the lights to encourage melatonin production in your body and promote your sleepiness.

        #2 Tips for the night

        Schlaf-Tipps für Eltern: Mutter und Baby

        Maintain darkness

        Bright light inhibits the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle and makes us tired. Therefore, it's best to refrain from strong lighting and stimulating activities when you get up at night to check on your child so that your body doesn't fall into wakefulness and you don't have trouble falling asleep afterwards.

        Avoid distractions

        Additional and mostly avoidable external stimuli can also cause your body to switch to wakefulness. Especially looking at the smartphone or the clock usually start the famous thought carousel, which keeps us awake and makes it difficult to fall asleep again. So try to focus on the important tasks and don't put additional pressure on yourself by calculating the remaining sleep time.

        Keep calm

        If falling back asleep still doesn't work right away, the key is to stay calm. Stress activates the nervous system and promotes the production of the stress hormone cortisol. This further hinders the process of falling asleep and makes you more awake than sleepy. Some breathing exercises or relaxation techniques can specifically help you calm down and get tired again. Take a look here.


        #3 Tips for the morning

        Schlaf-Tipps für Eltern: Schlafbedürfnis Vater und Baby

        Get up immediately, don't slumber

        In any case, try to get up with the first alarm clock. In the morning, our body naturally wakes us up by reducing melatonin production and releasing more cortisol. However, activating the snooze function usually causes your body to fall back into deep sleep and sleep is again interrupted in an unnatural way with each ringing of the alarm clock. This has a negative effect on your daily form and not only makes you tired and sluggish, but also reduces your ability to concentrate and perform. Even if it is difficult at first, it is therefore better to do without the snooze button and get up straight away. Daylight, fresh air and light exercise stimuli also wake you up and help you get a strong start to the day.

        Pay attention to sleep requirements

        For growth and development, children need significantly more sleep than adults. Whether we are early risers or night owls is not really a matter of upbringing, but innate. Experts assume that between the 8th month and the 3rd year of life it becomes apparent which sleep type a child belongs to. Therefore, remember to pay attention to both your own and your child's individual sleep needs and, for example, refrain from waking your child if it is not absolutely necessary. This way, both parties can sleep well according to their own needs and get through the day.

        A healthy start to the day

        Especially after a demanding night and lack of regeneration, the body needs a lot of nutrients and energy to function properly. A well-balanced breakfast is the right basis for a successful start to the day for parents and children alike and, at best, consists of plenty of healthy vitamins, strengthening protein sources and healthy fats and carbohydrates. This will provide you with all the essential nutrients you need to get going after the first meal of the day. However, remember to stay hydrated and drink at least 1.5 - 2 litres of water every day.

        What mum and dad achieve in family life every day is often underestimated. Especially the lack of sleep in the first years of the children's lives not only wears on the nerves, but also represents a challenge for the body and the own health. It is therefore all the more important that parents also take time for their own need for sleep and the important (nightly) regeneration. After all, everyday family life can only succeed if mum and dad wake up rested in the morning and start each new day with plenty of energy.

        Conclusion

        • Young parents are particularly often affected by lack of sleep and sleep disorders.
        • Lack of sleep has numerous negative consequences for well-being and health, e.g. leads to tiredness, sluggishness or poor concentration and performance.
        • A power nap at lunchtime brings energy and fixed bedtimes or evening routines as well as targeted relaxation before sleep prepare parents & child for a restful night.
        • Glaring lights, unnecessary distractions and stress make it difficult to fall asleep after periods of wakefulness at night and should be avoided.
        • Consider different sleep needs. In the morning it is best not to slumber, but to get up directly and start the day healthily with a balanced breakfast.

        Best wishes and see you soon!