Brad Dobson LMHC, LCAC, CADACII
A Recent study by the CDC revealed that approximately 44% of the mothers that are single and have a child younger than 18 years old are sleeping less than 7 hours every night. That is probably no surprise to the many single parents out there. Actually getting an 8 hour night of sleep is like winning the lottery sometimes for a single parent. The problem is we forget just how important sleep is for every day functioning.
Russell Foster is a circadian neuroscientist that studies the purpose and functions of sleep. His Ted talk in the video above outlines the benefits of healthy sleep and risks of unhealthy sleep. How would you react to commercial from a reputable company that advertised a drug that could improve your concentration, attention, decision making, creativity, social skills, and health? Sounds too good to be true, right? That is exactly what sleep can do if we made it the priority it deserves to be in our life.
Dr. Foster explains how sleep serves multiple functions for our mind and body, but the most likely purpose is for brain processing and memory c consolidation. That basically means we need sleep to learn and remember. Have you ever noticed how forgetful you become with too little sleep? Do you ever notice how your moods are affected by a lack of sleep? How do these symptoms of sleep deprivation impact our parenting decisions, relationships, and self-care?
Dr. Foster explains how our ghrelin hormone, or “hunger hormone”, in our GI tract is significantly increased when we achieve less than 5 hours of sleep/night. This increase in the “hunger hormone” increases our likelihood of obesity by approximately 50%, according to Dr. Foster. How is that even fair?! My body naturally kicks me while I’m down to make me gain weight while I can barely remember my own name?
What does all of this have to do with being a single parent? The CDC study exposed how vulnerable single parents are to all of these symptoms of sleep deprivation. It was once said that it takes a village to raise a child. That is a luxury 2 parent homes take for granted today.
This is not an article to chastise single parents for not getting enough sleep. This is a wake-up call for the rest of the village. The majority of us have friends that are single parents. Sometimes the greatest gift is not a gift card or material possession. Offer to take your friend’s kids for a play date or movie night. Offer your friend the gift of rest with the peace of mind their kids are safe. Offer your friend time to restore their mind, body, and spirit.
“Sleep is the golden chain that binds health and our bodies together.” – Thomas Dekker