In this 2 part blog we look at some of the reasons for parental exhaustion!

Kids finally asleep but you can’t drop off ?

In today’s busy world with so many pressures on our time it is easy skimp on our sleep. As a parent the few hours in the late evening that belong just to you are precious and cherished. But is that ‘me time’ causing insomnia and sleep deprivation? Is the reason that your ‘me time’ is so valued due to the low level anxiety caused by sleep deprivation? Which comes first – the need for ‘me time’ exacerbated by anxiety or perhaps anxiety due to chronic sleep loss?

What is causing your sleep deprivation?

Are you exhausted due to cramming so much into your day? Do you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow and awake with a start with the alarm? Or perhaps you are tired but remain wired long into the night or early hours? Just as common is waking in the early hours and being unable to fall asleep again perhaps due to work or health anxieties and/or an overactive brain.

How do we address this?

Firstly look at the length of time you are allocating for sleep – is it long enough for your individual sleep needs? Do you have
insomnia or sleep deprivation, or are you not prioritising sleep?

Are you falling asleep quickly and staying asleep yet remain exhausted throughout the day? This could be due to not allowing yourself enough time in bed. It could also be due to poor sleep quality caused perhaps by sleep apnoea or a sleep disorder such as restless legs syndrome. This will need a review by your GP.

Assuming that your sleep is restful let’s look at getting more time in bed! Can you identify any changes that can be made to your evenings? For example not scrolling through social media platforms or checking your work emails. Perhaps you could use time spent waiting for children at their activities to do this – or use that time to get a few quick jobs done. Maybe using a slow cooker for dinner (turned on in the morning) or using a quick cheat meal might free up some time?

How about more time in bed in the morning? A consistent bedtime and wake time is key to establishing good sleep as it stablises your circadian rhythm and melatonin release. Do you have to get up early to beat the traffic, go to the gym or get a parking space or can you achieve more time in bed?

Now let’s imagine committing to 1-2 weeks of giving up that ‘me time’ in order to get more time in bed. How does that make you feel? Are you worried that life will be all work and no play? Or could it be a relief to think that you may have more energy to spend in the day?

Did you know?

The second Great British Bedtime Report was conducted by Atomik Research, who questioned a sample of 5,002 people via an online survey in 2017.

This concluded we are getting even less sleep now than in 2013 (when the first survey was conducted). Almost three-quarters (74%) of Brits sleep less than seven hours per night while the number of people who said they get less than five hours a night has grown from 7% to 12%. For many people (61% of those questioned in 2017), between five to seven hours a night is the norm. It’s led to almost a third of us (30%) getting a poor sleep most nights. The top three reasons remain the same as 2013: stress and worry (45% vs 53%), partner disturbance (25%); and noise (20% vs 18%).

Surprisingly, the number of people using technology in the bedroom would appear to have declined since 2013. So what are people doing instead? It seems more people are dependent on medication, meditation and music. Those turning to music to help them sleep grew from 17% in 2013 to 24% in 2017, and meditation has also grown in popularity – from 8% to 12%.

So have people realised they need more sleep and recognised its importance? If so why would this realisation have resulted in less sleep?

In part 2 we look at the reasons why chasing sleep and placing so much emphasis on its benefits actually does the reverse and can result in insomnia and sleep deprivation.

For help and support with your family’s sleep needs and emotional well-being contact