Parental stress increases with family sleep disorders

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Children’s sleep difficulties can increase parent stress, Kelly Knox/Stocksy
  • Researchers say that sleep disturbances in adults as well as children in a household can increase parental stress levels.
  • They note that stress can also produce poor quality sleep in return.
  • Among the recommendations for better quality sleep is maintaining a consistent bedtime and nighttime routine.

If you or a child in your household has a sleep disorder, chances are you are all under high stress and have difficulty sleeping.

A new to study published in the journal PLOS ONE reports that the rate of parental stress is significantly higher among parents who themselves suffer from sleep disorders or who have children with sleep disorders.

Sleep disorders examined in the study include:

Sleep disorders and stress are known to have a two-way relationship in which excessive stress negatively impacts overall sleep health and poor sleep health negatively impacts stress levels and the ability to cope. to face.

The researchers looked at how this relationship differs between parents, in particular.

The study included data from more than 14,000 employees insured by the Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrator (DMBA) in 2020. All participants had dependent children living in the household.

During the year, just over 2% of employees filed a medical request for the treatment of stress and 12% filed a request for the treatment of a sleep disorder.

During the same period, medical claims for a sleep disorder were made for 2% of dependent children.

After adjusting for age, biological sex and marital status, the researchers reported that stress levels were significantly higher among employees with sleep disorders.

Specifically, stress rates were found to be:

  • 3 times more for insomniacs
  • 1.88 times higher for people with sleep apnea
  • 1.9 times more if their child has a sleep disorder
  • 2.89 times more if their child suffers from insomnia

Researchers have also reported that if a child suffers from a sleep disorder, the rate of parental insomnia and sleep apnea is almost double.

From there, the researchers suggested that a better understanding of the links between parents’ and children’s sleep quality and parental stress could help improve treatment and reduce the risk of these disorders.

Shelby Harris, PsyD, CBSM, is a licensed clinical psychologist, clinical associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, and director of Sleep Health at Sleepopolis.

“Sleep is the foundation with which our processing of emotions and our mood are built,” she told Healthline. “Without good sleep, we are at higher stress levels.”

“The study provides insight into why working on good sleep is essential for the whole family, parents and children,” she added.

Harris also noted that the study further highlights the interconnection between sleep, stress and family health.

Dr. Shalini Paruthi, a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and certified in sleep medicine and internal medicine, explained that beyond mood, poor sleep quality will also affect daytime alertness. and attention to detail.

“When we get enough good quality sleep, our brains are better able to interpret and deal with the common stressors we face every day,” she told Healthline.

While you and your family members can do several things to improve the sleep health of the whole family, Harris points out that the secret to better sleep is consistency.

This means that it is more beneficial to follow some of the following tips all the time than to follow all the recommendations once in a while.

Keep a constant bed and wake-up time

“Keeping a consistent bed and wake-up time can help improve sleep for parents and their children,” Harris said. “Kids who stick to a set bedtime can also give parents time to create their own nighttime routines around their usual bedtime.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests maintain this consistency 7 days a week, including non-working days or weekends.

The AASM notes that this consistency in bedtime and wake-up time should also include any vacation time.

When considering an appropriate bedtime, the AASM says to allow plenty of time to sleep at least 7-8 hours a night.

Maintaining a Consistent Routine Before Bedtime

“Everyone should have a bedtime routine, from 1 day to over 100,” says Paruthi.

She explains that bedtime routines help our brains transition from full alert to falling asleep. She suggests aiming for a bedtime routine that lasts 10 to 30 minutes.

“Having a consistent nighttime routine can help the brain and body associate these activities or milestones with sleep,” Harris said. “It can help parents and children fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.”

According to Paruthi, a child’s bedtime routine can include any or all of the following:

  • bedtime snack
  • shower bath
  • brushing teeth
  • read/sing
  • hugs/hugs/kisses
  • curfew

Also, Paruthi says that whatever you do, it’s important to do the same activities in the same order every night, even when you come home late from evening activities like sports training or games (just try to do the routine a little faster).

Why morning light is important

Your sleep routine also includes the morning hours.

Sleep experts say it’s important to make sure you have bright light in the morning.

“Morning light can help parents and children feel more awake in the morning/afternoon and help them get better quality sleep at night,” Harris explained.

You can get more light in the morning with these tips from Harris:

  • Open blinds, curtains, or shades upon waking
  • Take a walk in the morning if possible (even a short labor will help)
  • Use an alarm clock if it’s still dark when you and your family wake up

Again, she says, consistency is key here.

About 70 million people in the United States suffer from at least one sleep disorder, but experts also estimate that up to 80% of sleep disorders may go undetected or undiagnosed, according to a article published in the journal Pharmacy and Therapeutics.

The author of the article suggests that sleep disorders, pain disorders and mental health issues may overlap and further complicate diagnosis and treatment.

This means that if you’re having trouble sleeping, you’re not alone. So what can you do?

According to the AASM, if you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes in bed, you should stop trying.

They suggest getting out of bed and doing some quiet activity without too much light exposure.

“It’s especially important not to get into electronics,” they note.

The CDC adds that if you have trouble sleeping, or someone in the household has, try keeping a sleep diary for 10 days before seeing your health care provider to discuss it.

Your sleep diary should show when you:

  • Go to bed
  • Go to bed
  • Wake up
  • get out of bed
  • Take a nap
  • Exercise
  • To drink alcohol
  • Drink caffeinated beverages

“Be sure to mention if you are taking any medications (over-the-counter or prescription) or supplements, as they may keep you up at night,” according to the CDC.

Parental stress increases with family sleep disorders

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