Science Says If You Want To Be A Better Parent, Get Better Sleep

tired mom sleep

Every parent knows that getting the proper amount of sleep is crucial to a child's development. Not only does adequate sleep help a child grow and be rested to function throughout the day, but it also hugely affects mood. Any parent who has ever had to take a toddler to an appointment during nap time can attest to that.

While common sense shows us that we are more effective when we get a good night's sleep, science is now telling us that good sleep habits also help make us better parents. A new study from Kelly Tu, a human development and family studies researcher at the University of Illinois shows that how much sleep a mom gets directly impacts the kind of parent she is, Science Daily writes.

The study, which focuses on mothers who are parenting young adolescents, shows that mothers who don't get enough sleep or who take a long time to fall asleep are more likely to engage in "permisssive parenting." Meaning moms who are sleep deprived are more likely to simply allow their tweens and teens to do things they maybe shouldn't be doing because they're exhausted.

Tu stated that between the ages of 11 and 18 there's a direct link between permissive parenting and bad behaviour by the children.

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"Given that permissive parenting may heighten the risk of adolescents' risky behaviors, we wanted to take a step back to ask what's driving these permissive parenting behaviors, and to see if sleep could be a contributing factor.

"We found that when mothers were not receiving enough sleep, or receiving poor quality sleep, it had an effect on their levels of permissiveness with their adolescents. It may be that they're more irritable, experiencing impaired attention, or so over-tired that they are less consistent in their parenting. But on the plus side, we also find that mothers who are receiving adequate sleep are less likely to be permissive with their adolescents."

woman sleeping
Credit: iStock / demaerre

The study followed 234 mothers who wore a Fitbit like device for a period of one week, to measure their quality of sleep. Their adolescent children were then given a questionnaire to fill out to rate their interaction with their mom over the one week period.  They were to answer questions and indicate how likely their mother was to let them do something. They also indicated the level of permissiveness and follow up to requests that happened over the week period.

The study proved that the mothers who had better quality sleep were stricter with their kids. As Tu pointed out, the study shows the drastic need for self care, especially among mothers. Ensuring you're getting enough sleep doesn't only benefit you, but your children as well.

"Sleep is an easier point to intervene in terms of changes individuals can make -- things like not drinking caffeine or exercising too close to bedtime, establishing a bedtime routine, and thinking about the sleep environment," she says. "Parents may be thinking about these things when it comes to their children, but it's just as important for parents to get enough sleep as it may impact their family interactions and children's well-being."

Get more sleep, because science says you need it.

MORE: 11 Reasons Why You Should Get More Sleep 

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