Working Parents and Sleep Deprivation

This week we have been speaking to Maryanne Taylor, a qualified sleep consultant, about the effect of working parents and sleep deprivation.

What is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is not just about ‘feeling tired’.  It can also cause serious problems in both personal life and in the workplace.

Modern lifestyles are often defined by long working hours, continuous use of mobile technology, and the need to function across different time zones.  All of these are significant contributors to sleep problems, with most people trying to balance at least one of these factors with getting a good night’s sleep.  On top of that, parents also face the challenge of being woken in the night by their children.

So how can lack of sleep affect work performance?

It can affect it on so many levels – productivity, quality of performance and even relationships with work colleagues.  Without adequate sleep, concentration, learning and communication levels can be significantly compromised.

Memory lapses are common after a poor night’s sleep and problem-solving abilities decline.  In the vast majority of roles, working memory and processing ability are important for most tasks and require a great deal of focus and concentration.  A reduction in the quantity and quality of sleep causes productivity and efficiency levels to be significantly reduced.

And it’s not just work performance which is affected.  Sleep-deprived people can be moody and less tolerant of co-workers on a personal and professional level.  They may be more prone to outbursts and other relationship-limiting behaviours.  Work relationship problems not only impact on the individuals, bit often on the entire team, and may lead to inefficiency and job dissatisfaction.

What can we do to help working parents and sleep deprivation?

  • Reduce the overall caffeine intake and only drink non-caffeinated drinks after lunchtime.
  • Make sure you eat breakfast and don’t skip other meals. Avoid heavy, rich food in the evening and be cautious with spicy or acidic foods which can cause heartburn.
  • If you’re sitting in an office all day, get up and walk around from time to time; go outside at lunchtime.
  • Regular exercise can improve the symptoms of insomnia and increase the amount of time you spend in the deep levels of restorative sleep.
  • Expose yourself to natural light during the daytime hours and keep the room dark at night.
  • Avoid late night television or computer work. All screens emit blue light, which is particularly disruptive to sleep patterns, so avoid using any screens in the hour before you go to bed.
  • Leave stress behind by writing down tomorrow’s to-do list at the end of each day and try to put those items out of your mind once they are written down.
  • Any most of all – try to relax!

To find out more about Maryanne Taylor and The Sleep Works, please see or contact us at Parent and Professional.

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