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Sleepless nights ‘affect all aspects’ of mothers’ and fathers’ lives

Author Alex Bellamy
Submitted 03-07-2008

Not getting enough sleep can impact on work, health and relationships -something parents know about more than most.

Newsweek cites data from the National Sleep Foundation that shows 40 percent of adults believe tiredness interferes with their daily routine, while 27 percent admitted to dozing off behind the wheel.

Experts suggest that this figure is worse for parents. Child psychologist Jodi Mindell, author of ‘Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers and Their Parents Can Get A Good Night’s Sleep’, told the magazine that tiredness means some mothers and fathers are "not functioning as parents, in their marriage or at their job".

"You find decreases in parental depression and increases in marital satisfaction once the baby is sleeping," she added.

Although it may not seem like it sometimes, Newsweek reports that newborns sleep more than 90 hours a week on average and 74 hours from ages five to 11. The problem lies in the fact that they often wake up during the night, either for feeds or because of nightmares, leaving parents struggling to get back to sleep.

This is simply a fact of life, but there are a few parenting skills mothers and fathers can employ to help alleviate the problem.

For example, Dana Obleman, author of ‘The Sleep Sense Program – Proven Strategies For Teaching Your Child to Sleep Through the Night’, recently told the ContraCosta Times that parents should think of sleep as a continuous 24-hour cycle, so that whatever happens at each stage of the day has a direct impact on the next day.