By Whitney Roban, Ph.D.
As a Pediatric Sleep Specialist and Parent/Corporate Wellness Educator, I work everyday with parents of children who have sleep issues. When children do not sleep through the night, neither do their parents. Many of these parents are working parents. I hear the exhaustion and desperation in their voices. I am told stories of falling asleep during meetings, forgetting important deadlines, missing work due to frequent illnesses, quick and abrupt mood changes in the workplace, and even driving the wrong way down a one way street on the way to work.
Almost all aspects of our daily life are affected by sleep. In general, sleep deprivation negatively affects our physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral well being. More specifically, it has a profound effect on our mood and temperament; our memory, performance, productivity, attention, concentration, problem solving and processing speed, and our immune system and risk for chronic disease such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and obesity. These negative consequences are seen in both the home and the workplace. There are just no positive affects of sleep deprivation.
For sleep deprived working parents, the sleep deprivation a family faces in the home most certainly carries over to the workplace. When sleep deprived, an employee’s productivity and creative thinking are decreased, as is their overall health and well being. Furthermore, the corporations’ absenteeism and health care costs are increased. Therefore, the lack of a healthy family sleep life at home has detrimental effects on both the worker as well as the corporations’ bottom line.
The importance of an employee’s health and well-being is certainly being recognized by corporations, as nearly 90 percent of companies offer wellness programs. However, most of those programs do not yet include sleep health as part of their wellness programs. Furthermore, the ones that do include sleep health do not focus on family sleep wellness. Teaching working parents deep breathing and positive visualizations will not improve their sleep life if the cause of their sleep deprivation is their children being awake in the middle of the night.
In order to have a manageable work/life balance, it is important to try to solve any home life issues that can have a negative impact on your job. For most parents, one of the greatest home life struggles is sleep. However, the good news is that all behavioral sleep issues can be resolved and it is never too late to teach your child good sleep habits. It will be an invaluable gift to you, your career, your child and your entire family. The positive effects will last a lifetime.
I started my own pediatric sleep consultancy 9 years ago, when my first-born son was 3 years old and my younger son was 6 months old. I had sleep trained each of them when they were 4 months of age, so by the time I was ready to go back to work, I had two incredible sleepers. Having a well-rested family has certainly made my journey as a working mother less of a struggle.
If you are planning to go back to work or have already reentered the work force, you should definitely assess the quality and quantity of your sleep life at home. If you are not getting the 7-9 hours of daily sleep recommended, it is time to take a look at what is causing your sleep deprivation. If you are getting ready to re-enter the workforce after having children, now is a great time to fix any sleep issues at home. If you are already back in the workforce and sleep deprivation is making your job a daily struggle, solving your child’s sleep issues is the best way to start feeling healthy and well rested again. The road to improved health, wellness and well-being at work begins in the home. Now is the time to make healthy sleep a priority. Remember, sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity!
Founder of SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ and SLEEP WELL/WORK WELL, Dr. Whitney Roban considers sleep a necessity, not a luxury. She lives and works by one philosophy: parenting is one of the hardest jobs, made even more difficult when a family doesn’t sleep. Her mission is to give the gift of sleep to families through her information dissemination and emotional support based sleep training system, as well as her parent and corporate wellness education workshops. For more information about Dr. Whitney Roban, SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ and SLEEP WELL/WORK WELL, visit www.sleepeezkidz.com. You can also visit facebook.com/sleepeezkidz and twitter.com/sleepeezkidz.