Does sleep affect how you parent?

Kinderling News & Features

Yes, that is a real headline on a parenting site. And of course we all know the answer – HELL YES it does.

But hear us out, because the science behind 'why' is actually really interesting.  

A new study by the University of Illinois points to a link between sleep (or lack thereof) and “permissive parenting”. That’s a fancy word for inconsistent discipline style; that is, too few clear guidelines and rules.

After examining the sleep pattern of 234 mothers, the University of Illinois parents found that the ones who slept better had a more consistent approach to discipline, than the mothers who don’t get enough sleep.

"It may be that they're more irritable, experiencing impaired attention, or so overtired that they are less consistent in their parenting," said researcher Kelly Tu. "But on the plus side, we also find that mothers who are receiving adequate sleep are less likely to be permissive with their adolescents."

What’s the cure for tired parents?

If the above sounds like you, then don’t beat yourself up about it. We all go through terrible sleep patterns as parents and luckily, there are lots of ways you can deal with it.

The researchers recommend limiting your use of technology and other electronics at night time.

Holistic sleep remedies, like using a lavender fragrance before bed, drinking chamomile tea or doing some gentle meditation and yoga will help boost the quality of sleep you get.

Listen to Kinderling Conversation:

How to cope with sleep deprivation

Professor David Hillman, president of the Sleep Health Foundation, told Kinderling Conversation that most adults need about 7.5-8 hours a night to function well.  

"Sleep deprivation slows down our thought processes and reaction times, and we get a bit crankier," David says. "As a parent of  a new baby you need to accept that it will take several months to plan for the fact your sleep patterns are changing.  You need to let a few things go around the house. And don't feel guilty about sleeping in the middle of the day. Your main duties are with your child and never mind all the other fine points that you may have concentrated on pre-children."

What strategies do you find useful in getting a good night’s sleep? And how do you parent your best after a night of terrible sleep?