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6 reasons why sleep quality is important for parents

March 11, 2022

The importance of sleep quality for parents

We’ve all had a late night, or two or three, that left us feeling tired, cranky, and unfocused. Parents know how critical sleep is for their young ones, who typically need 10 to 13 hours of sleep time a night.

But despite knowing the importance of rest and sleep, many parents struggle to prioritize sleep for themselves.

With hectic schedules and a never-ending to-do list, only 10% of new parents get the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. And their sleep cycle often doesn’t improve for six years after having children. For parents of children in hospitals, getting enough restful sleep or even a nap may seem like the least of your worries. We know getting a good night’s sleep is important for every member of the family, so we rounded up six reasons you should prioritize getting good sleep quality:

1. Boosts immune function

Persistent sleepiness can actually make you ill — but getting enough healthy sleep can help your immune system ward off infection.

The immune cells that fight off infection are most active when you sleep, and longer sleep duration is associated with better immune memory. That means you get sick less often, and you can avoid seeking additional health care. And when you do catch something, your body remembers how to fight it for longer.

That’s especially important for parents who spend time at the hospital, as you’re more likely to come in contact with diseases like the common cold. Higher sleep quantity means you’re stronger for your child.

Both short-term and ongoing poor sleep quality are linked with higher inflammation in the body, which can have a range of negative effects, from aches and pains to heart disease.

2. Helps maintain a healthier weight

There’s a good chance you’ll find yourself reaching for sugary snacks and unhealthy foods when you have sleep problems.

Research has shown that when they don’t get a high enough quality of sleep, people consume 6% more calories.

For parents spending a large amount of time in the ward, there aren’t many options for food besides vending machines and quick-fix meals. That’s another key reason why the House is so important. Not only do parents get more sleep and make smarter choices, but they also have the option of a home-cooked meal.

3. Supports positive mood

It’s well-known that when you don’t get the amount of sleep you need, you wake up grouchy and feel unpleasant the next day.

And there’s research that backs that up.

With enough sleep, you’re more likely to be empathetic to others. And better sleep quality improves mental health and decreases the risk of depression.

The quality of your sleep helps you stay positive while dealing with stress and spread kindness to others. That’s why it’s important to get enough sleep, especially during hard times.

Staff at Ronald McDonald House Charities UK wearing pyjamas to work for PJ Day 2021.

4. Improves coordination

Another little-known physical side-effect of getting enough deep sleep is improved physical coordination and response time.

When you get poor quality sleep, you’re more likely to be off-balance and react slowly to sudden events, like avoiding a car wreck on the road.

Whether taking a stroll to relax or driving, quality sleep helps you avoid accidents and injuries so you can focus on helping your children.

5. Decreases risk of serious disease

Your sleep habits have a powerful impact on your well-being long-term.

Low sleep quantity and frequent sleep disturbances can lead to sleep disorders, which can significantly affect your health.

Lack of sleep has been linked with an increased risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and coronary heart disease.

While it may be easy to brush off snacking a bit too much or feeling grumpy, it’s important to remember that prioritizing getting high-quality sleep patterns can make a huge impact on your overall health. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule should be part of your daily routine.

6. Improves mental function

One of sleep’s main roles is to help you process the day’s memories and forge new pathways between ideas in your brain.

That’s part of the reason why getting enough sleep improves memory. Sleep deprivation has also been shown to lead to riskier decision-making.

For parents of children in hospitals, there’s likely a lot of new information coming in and decisions to be made. That’s why it’s important for parents to ensure they get enough sleep to tackle each day’s demands.

Collage of employees wearing pyjamas to work on Best of Suffolk’s PJ Day.

It’s critical for everyone to be able to get the sleep they need — especially families of children in hospitals. Part of our mission is to provide Houses for parents, so they never have to sacrifice the sleep they deserve to make sure their child receives the care they need.

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