Children waking up at night aren't the only reason for all of those sleep-deprived mothers shuffling through life. Part of the problem is that mothers put their kids to bed and then stay up much later than they should.
It's understandable, Mindell says. "A lot of moms see the night as their own quiet time to relax or as a chance to get things done that they couldn't during the day," she tells WebMD. So instead of going to bed earlier to compensate for the sleep they're losing in the night, mothers might stay up later -- further eroding the time they sleep.
Sleep-Deprived Mothers: The Health Effects
Of course, many sleep-deprived mothers just pooh-pooh the recommendations about getting more rest. Sure, it would be swell if they could sleep eight hours a night, but it just seems absurdly unrealistic.
It doesn't help that as a culture, we tend to look down on sleep. Getting too much -- or even just enough -- implies softness. Some sleep-deprived mothers take pride in doing too much and sleeping too little, trading war stories of sleepless nights with other moms at the park.
But sleep experts are trying to get people to change their attitude about sleep. "We really need to look at sleep as something that's just as important to good health as diet and exercise," Ronald Kramer, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and a specialist at the Colorado Sleep Disorders Center in Englewood, Colo.
Roth agrees. "We have good data linking insufficient sleep with all sorts of problems," Roth tells WebMD. "It's connected to poor performance at work, obesity, diabetes, excessive risk-taking behavior, and heart disease." Honestly, if you pick a disease or health problem at random from a medical text, it's probably worsened by or linked to sleep loss.
The Impact of Sleep Loss on Mothers
If looking after your own health isn't enough to get you to change your habits, remember that you're not the only one affected. If you're constantly tired, your whole family will feel it.