Last updated on May 26th, 2024

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Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

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adult sleepMoms have often told their daughters to get their beauty sleep. Recently, science has caught up to the wisdom of moms everywhere and validated what Mom has always known: you just look better when you get good sleep!

We spend a lot of time here discussing the vital role of sleep, including good naps, in your child’s life. But today I want to talk about how important sleep is for you, the parent and caregiver for your child.

Sleep has dramatic effects on our brain functioning which affects our relating, our eating, our decisions, and our perceptions of life in general. Whether you are male or female, the science holds true for all of us. Getting good sleep makes us healthier inside and more beautiful outside.

Good Sleep Helps You Resist Snacking and Packing on Extra Pounds

If you are getting the sleep your body needs you will be able to resist the temptations to overeat more easily. Researchers have found that when we get less sleep our bodies secrete a hormone called endocannabinoid that makes eating more pleasurable, and therefore, more irresistible.

We are basically hungrier when we sleep less and, all things being equal, we will eat about 400 more calories a day when sleep-deprived. That adds up quickly! Getting enough sleep, whether just at night or by adding in a nap during the day, really does contribute to your overall health.

Good Sleep Makes You Better Looking

This sounds a little far-fetched but it is really true. When we sleep enough our body is busy repairing itself. Our skin makes new collagen which will mean less wrinkles. We also get adequate blood flow to our skin and that gives us a healthy, more youthful glow. Too little sleep can leave our skin drier, more wrinkled, and lifeless and ashen-looking. But enough good sleep will leave our skin more moisturized, plump, and rosy.

You have probably woken up from getting way too few zzzs only to find your eyes puffy and maybe some dark circles underneath. Getting more sleep helps alleviate excess puffiness. Try an elevated pillow as well if you have trouble with this.
“Get your beauty sleep” sounds a bit more sophisticated and scientifically-sound now, doesn’t it?

Good Sleep Makes You Quicker On Your Toes

Baby Laughing In Rucksack With MomYou may not have cat-like reflexes when you get enough sleep but you will definitely be more agile and able to react more quickly. Studies show that after weeks of sleep deprivation our reaction times can slow from a quarter of a second to 4 seconds. That is long enough to make a poor decision with potentially bad consequences. But when we are well-rested (and not chronically deprived of sleep) we will respond to sudden stimulation more quickly.

Good Sleep Leads to Better Decision-Making Skills

Not only do we react more quickly when we get good sleep, we make better decisions.
Amazingly, we are able to function on little sleep. But if we need to make decisions that benefit from creative thinking and innovation, we will be greatly hampered by a lack of sleep. Our centers of higher level thinking are definitely affected by a lack of sleep.

Getting through the normal, daily routine is possible on less-than-ideal sleep, obviously. But if you want to bring good, critical, and creative thinking to bear in your work and family, you will need to get enough sleep.

Good Sleeps Leads to Better Emotional Intelligence

Our decision-making skills that rely on emotional data are also negatively affected by a lack of sleep. That means that usually we can read someone’s face to know if they are angry or happy or sad but that ability plummets when we are tired. Of course this can affect decision-making and how well we relate to our family and co-workers.

Good Sleep Gives You A More Positive Outlook

Lastly, when we get enough sleep at night, we will have a much more positive outlook on the future. When we are tired, we tend to be pessimistic and see the glass as half-empty. But when we get adequate rest we are more likely to have a positive outlook.

So How Much Sleep Is Enough?

Each adult has a slightly different amount of sleep that they need to feel well-rested. The range is from 7 to 9 hours for young adults and adults, while 7 to 8 hours is enough for older adults.

Tips For Getting More Sleep

  • Take a Nap. When we have very young children (especially under 6 months) we do not always have the luxury of sleeping through the night. If that is your situation, I encourage you to fit in a nap each day if at all possible. Or adjust your evening routine so that you can get to bed sooner.
  • Sleep when baby sleeps. If naps are not an option for you (maybe you work all day), for this reason, sleep when your baby sleeps at night.
  • Split up duties. Consider splitting up middle of the night duties with your partner if possible.
  • Screentime wakes us up.Say no to screen time an hour before bed so that your natural melatonin will kick in and help you get drowsy. To encourage that natural melatonin production, you can also dim your lights an hour or so before bed.
  • Have your own bedtime routine. If you do not have one, make a simple bedtime routine for yourself and stick to it. The routine will begin to signal to your body that it is time to sleep.
  • Make it cooler. Lower your thermostat to 68 – 72 degrees Fahrenheit. A cooler room makes it easier for your body to sleep restfully.
  • Sleep training may be the next step. Lastly, if your baby is over 6 months and having trouble settling down to sleep or going back to sleep at night on his own, let me teach you my gentle method for helping your child sleep.

I want you to get your beauty sleep not just so you look better but so that you feel better and enjoy your life!

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Author: Kim West, MSW, Mom of 2, creator of The Sleep Lady Shuffle

My name is Kim West, and I’m the mother of two beautiful girls, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 21 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. My sleep journey began when I started experimenting with gently shaping my daughter’s sleep by not following the conventional wisdom at the time. After having success (and then more success with my second daughter!), I began helping family and friends and my step-by-step method spread like wildfire, exactly like an excellent night of sleep for a tired parent should!