Checklist for Sleep-Deprived Parents

1. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

  • Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine close to bedtime.
  • Exercise regularly during the morning or afternoon.
  • Establish a relaxing routine before bedtime.

2. Maintain Sleep Schedules for All Family Members

  • Establish a quiet time in the evening when the lights are dimmed and loud music is not permitted.
  • Shut off the television, computer and telephone close to bedtime.
  • Be consistent, even on weekends and vacations. Avoid staying up later or sleeping in for two or more consecutive nights.
  • If you have a bed partner who snores, encourage him/her to be evaluated by a sleep expert.

3. Take Naps

  • Enlist the services of a "parent's helper" -- and possibly a pair of earplugs -- while you catch a few extra zzzs.
  • If you work outside the home, speak to your employer about permission and accommodations to nap -- perhaps even setting up a "nap room" to help improve productivity and safety.
  • Avoid late naps in the afternoon or evening -- especially if you typically have trouble going to sleep at night.

4. Share the Burde

  • Consider carpooling or using mass transit instead of driving to work. (You might also be able to catch a "commuter catnap"!)

5. Stay Stimulated When Necessary

  • If you are feeling sleepy but a nap is out of the question, do something different or more invigorating (but avoid driving or other potentially hazardous activities).
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