Getting enough sleep is integral to emotional and mental health, which is why I discuss it frequently with clients. Finally, there is a book that discusses all of the benefits of sleep, as well as the risks inherent in being chronically sleep-deprived. Arianna Huffington's new book, The Sleep Revolution, was sent to me by The Huffington Post, and is an eye-opening look at the ways that sleep can impact well-being in long-lasting and meaningful ways.
It's really interesting to me, as a mom of small kids, that most parents I know place their child's sleep schedule very high on their priority list, and can discuss in depth the ways that their kid's behavior is impacted by lack of sleep. And then they place their own sleep on the back burner! It is a myth that adults can deal with sleep deprivation better than kids. They may not have tantrums, but lack of sleep can lead to irritability, depression, car accidents, and risk-taking behaviors. My favorite part of this book is the consistent analogy between alcohol consumption and sleep deprivation. We wouldn't drive drunk, so why do we drive on 2 hours of sleep? Sleep deprivation leads to the same slowed reaction time, impulsivity, and propensity to pass out. As she writes, "Fact: Twenty-four hours without sleep is the equivalent of a blood alcohol level of 0.1 percent- at which point you are more than legally drunk."
Huffington also discusses the link between smartphones and poor sleep, and says that many people check their phones constantly through the night! There is no way this interrupted sleep doesn't impact our teenage kids' emotional and physical health, and reading this book may give parents the push their need to enforce no-phone-at-night rules despite kids' pushback. And then they can turn their focus to persuading schools to start later. Another great statistic from the book is that when a boarding school started school 35 minutes later, students had 20% fewer visits to the health center.. and a record increase in GPA."
I also like how the book addresses how difficult it often is for couples to sleep together, and normalizes the idea of sleeping separately to get better quality sleep. One interesting finding that Huffington reports, from the University of Pittsburgh, is that women sleep better when they are happy in their relationship, whereas men feel better about their relationships after a night of better sleep. I don't know if a larger study or one that focuses on only parents of young kids would find the same thing, because I know that women who feel sleep deprived feel worse about everything, marriage included.
After reading The Sleep Revolution, I bet you'll find yourself trying to prioritize your sleep, using her tips as well as your own common sense about what to do (put down your phone, go to bed earlier, you know... all the stuff you know you should be doing). Till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Sleep Deprivation Is No Joke.
This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Order her book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family. Learn about Dr. Rodman's private practice here. This blog is not intended as diagnosis, assessment, or treatment, and should not replace consultation with your medical provider.