The pandemic has robbed moms of many things. Chief among them is sleep.
Lost sleep can’t be reclaimed, according to Cathy Goldstein, M.D., associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center, who reports that although you can get some benefits with so-called recovery sleep, extra sleep can’t be made up.
An extra 10 on Sunday’s snooze button doesn’t do it, Goldstein commented in Time.
Fatigue from lost sleep has a ripple effect. And when mom doesn’t sleep well, she cannot think or respond to her family’s needs as well as she’d like to.
The state of exhaustion has become an unwelcome way of life for America’s moms, who typically lose more sleep than their male partners, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune, which studied sleep patterns of parents with young kids.
Nearly 70% of mothers feel damaged by sleep deprivation and pandemic-related worry, according to a report in the New York Times.
“I miss sleep,” says Lauren Jones, a working mother who frequently gets fewer than six hours of sleep a night as a parent of two children under 11”.
“And that’s not even six hours of good sleep,” she adds. “With the Delta variant rising and the kids going back to school, exposure risks and related extended quarantine periods, my worry level is at an all-time high. Now, in addition to everything else, I worry about how much time I spend worrying — seriously?”
Sleep-deprived moms like Jones are operating on fumes and finding it increasing difficult to parent. For moms of younger children, the problem is an even more serious one. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found people who got only 4 1/2 hours of sleep a night for one week were more stressed, sad, angry and mentally exhausted.
Stress and lost sleep
Stress has an impact on sleep, especially for moms of young kids. Twice as many moms of preschoolers reported losing sleep during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic days, according to researchers, and mothers with high stress levels were less likely to meet healthy sleep and physical activity guidelines.
Like many parents, Marguerite Lynn Williams struggled with lost sleep. The busy mom, professional harpist and university faculty member at Chicago’s Roosevelt and Northwestern campuses knows how quickly even just a few hours of lost sleep can cascade into a downward spiral. For Willams, the stress of the rapid reopening during the pandemic coupled with health concerns took an immediate and troubling toll.
“I didn’t sleep at all,” Williams says. “I referred to myself as a vampire, and that was not good.”
Williams is one of many who struggle with getting good, restful sleep. Researchers found a surge in sleep disorders, with 66% of Americans reporting that they are either getting too little or too much sleep, according to a survey of those dealing with pandemic-related stress.
Illinois residents are no exception; the state ranked 17th in the nation for insufficient sleep, according to a 2020 report from America’s Health Rankings, with a full third of adults reporting sleeping on average fewer than seven hours in a 24-hour period.
Middle school orchestra teacher Beth Viselli of Urbana says the shifting pandemic hasn’t helped matters, especially as she returns to the classroom after months of remote teaching and then summer vacation. “Everything was looking so good and now because of the Delta variant it’s looking so much worse again. All this constant change makes it harder for me to fall asleep,” says the mother of 2-year-old Paul.
It’s so dire that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) assembled a Sleep and Sleep Disorders Team to raise awareness of the impact of sleep health on the public’s health and safety. About 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems, says the CDC, and lack of sleep is associated with injuries, chronic diseases, mental illnesses, poor quality of life and well-being, increased health care costs and lost work productivity. Furthermore, sleep problems are major contributors to some chronic conditions including obesity and depression.
So what’s the solution?
Maintaining good sleep hygiene routines can help promote calm and lead to better sleep.
So can CBD, according to a growing number of sleep experts who recommend supplements like CBD, which is, a naturally occurring component of the cannabis flower. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes CBD as safe, non-addictive and non-intoxicating.
After exploring a number of options, Williams tried CBD, which she says works.
“I’m sleeping better now,” she says, adding that she uses CBD as part of a larger self-care routine.
Viselli says she’s found that CBD can be a useful tool before bedtime. “It helps me get to sleep faster,” she says.
The benefits of another cannabinoid compound called CBN are currently being studied further, and there are “indications that CBN is a powerful sedative. CBN can prolong sleep time,” writes clinical psychologist and diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., in Psychology Today in his report of preliminary CBN animal studies.
Commonsense ways to promote good sleep
- Because getting adequate sleep is one of the most important musts in any parenting toolbox, here are some other tips for snagging some lovely z-z-z-z-zs:
- As tempting as it may be, don’t consume caffeine after midday.
- Avoid alcohol near bedtime. It may make you fall asleep faster, but it also increases the odds of waking up a few hours later.
- Keep a consistent routine by going to bed and rising at the same time each day.
- Avoid blue (device) light 90 minutes before bedtime.
- Make your bedroom a no-work zone. That means not responding to (or even checking) emails related to work, your school organization or children’s sports teams.
- Keep your bedroom temperature at or close to 65 degrees, which is considered optimal for sleep.
- Follow the same pattern each night. Eventually it will help trigger your brain that it’s time for sleep.
- If you have a baby, sleep when your baby sleeps. There’s a reason this is a parenting cliché — it’s excellent advice.
- Don’t look at the clock! Counting down “sleep” time only stresses you out more.
For additional information on CBD and sleep see CBD School: What you need to know about CBD and Sleep. Learn more about how to shop for CBD and Bluebird Botanical’s Downshift CBN + CBD Oil.