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4 Reasons Moms Need Bedtimes Too

Getting enough sleep is more important than getting all your chores done.

woman with sleeping mask

When it comes to working mothers, we’re really working—we often take on a disproportionate amount of childcare and housework, and our needs may fall to the wayside behind the rest of the household’s. For example, establishing a bedtime routine for your kids may be a priority, but your own sleep schedule might be all over the place. While it can be tempting to stay up after you put the kids to bed and get things done until you can’t keep your eyes open, you should commit to a regular bedtime for yourself, too. Here’s why:

It’s good for your health. Being inconsistent with your sleep and wake times is linked to a variety of health risk factors, according to a study from the University of Pittsburgh. In the study of 447 adults, researchers looked at the effects of social jetlag, which results from varying sleep and wake times on the weekends versus during the work week. Social jetlag was associated with higher cholesterol, greater insulin resistance, a bigger waist, and higher body mass index.

It’s good for the quality of your sleep. Going to bed when you’re tired—instead of staying up to fold laundry or watch one last episode of The Crown—is better for the soundness of your shut-eye. Having a consistent sleep schedule can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

It’s good for your waistline. Research has shown a link between poor sleep and body fat levels. In one study of 330 young adult women that monitored their sleep and physical activity for seven days, inconsistent sleep and wake times and poor sleep efficiency were associated with higher body fat levels.

woman stretching

It’s good for your career. Putting your head on your pillow at the same time each night may have a link to better performance at work, suggests to a small study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In the study, 61 undergraduates at Harvard kept sleep diaries for 30 days, and those with more regular sleep patterns did better academically than those who had more irregular patterns—even though there was no significant difference in the amount of sleep they got. Hitting a regular bedtime may help you bring your A-game to the office.

It’s good for your mood. It might seem like a no-brainer, but the amount and quality of sleep you’re getting can also have a direct impact on your mood, and there’s research to prove it. A small study reviewed how sleep disturbances affected 16 healthy adults, including their moods. Researchers had them reduce their sleep by 33 percent (giving them about 4.98 hours of sleep per night), for seven nights. By the second day, subjects already reported disturbances of mood, feeling of fatigue, stress, and mental exhaustion. And not that only that, but researchers also found that to recover from those effects, you’d need two full nights of sleep. Basically, when you consistently hit the hay at the same time, you set yourself up for a successful night’s rest and enhance the quality of sleep you’re getting, which may ultimately enhance your mood.

To help yourself figure out your new bedtime, try working backward from the time you really want to go to sleep. If you need 30 minutes to wash up, get into pajamas, and wind down from the day, don’t wait until your bedtime hits to start the proceedings. Consider setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to wrap up whatever you’re doing, and keep electronics to a minimum for an hour before you close your eyes. Sleep experts recommend adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

You also don’t need to jump straight into your new bedtime, or you may have trouble adjusting. The National Sleep Foundation recommends moving the time you normally go to bed up by 15 minutes once every few days until you reach your target time. You’ll be sleeping like your baby before you know it.