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Science Says Sleep Deprivation Can Literally Kill You

As parents, the only thing more precious to us than our kids is the very thing they tend to take away, and that is, of course, sleep. Remember the days when you could nap, sleep in, or even just rest your eyes? Neither do we. But it all sounds absolutely lovely.

There has been a big emphasis placed on sleep and our overall health in recent years. Doctors are warning us that we need to log as many hours of solid zzz's as possible and fitness trackers will even record how well you're sleeping at night to give you a rough idea of how you're doing in that department. Still, it feels like there's never enough time to get a truly good sleep in, no matter how hard we try. And now science warns that sleep deprivation can indeed actually kill you.

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There are a plethora negative things that can happen to us when we aren't getting enough sleep, among them are aging skin (which apparently no amount of retinol can cure), weight gain, long-term memory loss, and irritability. If you've noticed any of these symptoms in your day-today activities, know you're not alone.

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To make things even worse, sleep deprivation can impair your driving ability, which is a major concern considering we're our kids' personal chauffer, taking them to and from school and their many extracurricular activities.

Credit: iStock / metamorworks

The Mayo Clinic also points out that sleep is the part of our day that actually allows for a reset of our mind and body. The time it needs to recover from all of the wear and tear we put it through every single day. Specifically during REM sleep, the brain goes through all of the information we've been collecting, working as a filing system of sorts to keep some stuff at the forefront and place other items in long-term memory. Without it, it's nearly impossible to feel focused during the day.

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Experts recommend at least seven hours of sleep a night -- and that's truly just the minimum. It's not easy to prioritize sleep when our minds are constantly running and moving on to the next items on our to-do list, but everyone needs their battery recharged daily, even super parents. Don't wait until you feel even more rundown to change your sleep habits, and don't feel like you have to do a complete overhaul in a single night. Assess when and how you can get to sleep earlier, make your bedroom as conducive to sleep as possible (and that may mean kicking the kids out of your bed), and learn what works best for you in terms of calming your mind. You'll be a better parent and healthier person for it.

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