Sleep tips for parents

Work, 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 fatigue are often inevitable. Here you can find out which simple tips can help mothers and fathers improve their sleep habits and get through the day more awake.

Table of Contents

      1. Sleep & Family life
      2. Sleep tips for parents
        1. Tips for the afternoon & evening
        2. Tips for the night
        3. Tips for the morning
      3. Conclusion

        1. Sleep & Family Life

        In order to look after the children, prepare meals, plan appointments and organize everyday life, parents are the first on their feet and the last to go to bed in the evening. If the little ones can't sleep at night or demand everything from you during the day, sleepless nights and fatigue are often inevitable. In order to be able to cope with the turbulent everyday life, a good and restful sleep is very important, because mom and dad have to look after themselves as well as the children and be particularly resilient and productive in family life.

        Children can disrupt their parents' nighttime sleep for up to six years, but young parents in particular suffer from 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 have to 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 an average of one hour less in the first three months of their child's life than before! However, a persistent lack of sleep harms us immensely and not only leads to bad moods, food cravings or headaches, but also weakens the immune system in the long term and impairs our health.

        You can find out more about this in our article How much sleep do we need?.

        Although we are of course happy to accept this for our children, 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 awake.

        2. Sleep tips for parents

        #1 Tips for the afternoon & evening

        Schlaf-Tipps für Eltern: Geschichten vorlesen

        Use afternoon nap

        The good news first: you can make up for lost sleep! After a short night or a strenuous morning, a short power nap at midday will help you compensate for your sleep deficit and gather energy for the rest of the day. For example, use the time when your child also takes a nap for a short restful nap. You can find out how to organize a power nap efficiently here.

        Develop routine

        Developing a regular sleep rhythm and maintaining an evening routine helps the whole family to relax better and fall asleep more easily. Fixed bedtimes and evening rituals, such as brushing your teeth together or reading aloud, get you in the mood for the night and help you get the sleep you deserve after a strenuous day.

        Relaxation before sleep

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

        #2 Tips for the night

        Schlaf-Tipps für Eltern: Mutter und Baby

        Keep dark

        Bright light inhibits the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake rhythm and makes us tired. It is therefore best to avoid strong lighting and stimulating activities when you get up at night and check on your child so that your body does not fall into a state of wakefulness and you do not have difficulty falling asleep afterwards.

        Avoid distraction

        Additional and mostly avoidable external stimuli can also cause the body to switch to the awake state. Looking at our smartphone or watch in particular usually triggers the famous carousel of thoughts that keeps us awake and makes it difficult to fall asleep again. So try to focus on the important tasks and not put additional pressure on yourself by calculating the remaining sleep time.

        Keep calm

        If you still can't get back to sleep straight away, it's time 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 rather than sleepy. Some breathing exercises or relaxation techniques can 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 snooze

        In any case, try to get up at the first alarm clock. In the morning, our body wakes us up naturally by reducing melatonin production and releasing more cortisol. Pressing the snooze function usually causes your body to fall back into deep sleep and sleep is unnaturally interrupted every time the alarm clock rings. 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's difficult at first, it's better to forego the snooze button and get up straight away. Daylight, fresh air and light movement stimuli also wake you up and help you get the day off to a strong start.

        Observe sleep needs

        Children need significantly more sleep than adults for growth and development. Whether we are early risers or night owls is actually not a matter of upbringing, but rather something we are born with. Experts assume that between the 8th. month and the 3rd It becomes clear from the age of one year which sleep type a child belongs to. Therefore, remember to pay attention to your own sleep needs as well as your child's individual sleep needs and, for example, avoid waking your child if it is not absolutely necessary. Then both parties can get the best sleep possible according to their own needs and get through the day well.

        Start your day healthy

        Especially after a demanding night and a lack of regeneration, the body needs a lot of nutrients and energy to function properly. A balanced breakfast is the right basis for a successful start to the day for parents and children and ideally consists of plenty of healthy vitamins, strengthening protein sources as well as healthy fats and carbohydrates. This will provide you with all the important nutrients and allow you to get started after the first meal of the day. However, remember to ensure you have enough fluids and drink at least 1.5 – 2 liters of water every day.

        What mom and dad do every day in family life is often underestimated. The lack of sleep in the first years of children's lives not only wears on their nerves, but also poses a challenge for their bodies and their own health. This makes it all the more important that parents also take time for their own need for sleep and the important (nightly) regeneration. Ultimately, everyday family life can only be successful if mom and dad wake up rested in the morning and start each new day with a lot of energy.

        3. Conclusion

        • Young parents are particularly often affected by lack of sleep and sleep disorders.
        • Lack of sleep has numerous negative consequences on well-being and health, e.g. b to fatigue, sluggishness or poor concentration and performance
        • A power nap at midday brings energy and fixed bedtimes or evening routines as well as targeted relaxation before sleep prepare parents and children for a restful night.
        • Bright lights, unnecessary distractions and stress make it difficult to fall asleep after being awake at night and should be avoided.
        • Consider different sleep needs. It's best not to snooze in the morning, but rather get up straight away and start the day healthily with a balanced breakfast

        Greetings and see you soon!

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