What are the leading sleep-deprivation culprits? My exhausted patients routinely point their fingers at needy kids and snoring spouses. The good news: There are solutions for these top two shut-eye robbers.
The Parent Trap
About one-half of all parents have their sleep disturbed an average of twice a week because their child awakens them during the night. In a baby's first year of life, a parent can lose up to 200 hours of sleep.
How can you balance the late-night mommy or daddy beat with your slumber needs? First, learn how to take shifts so you're not always the one tending to children in the middle of the night. If you're a morning person, take the 3 a.m. shift onward, and go to bed a bit earlier (say, 9 to 10 p.m., if possible), while your late-night partner takes the 9 p.m. to midnight shift. (Everyone should be asleep from midnight to 3 a.m.; if not, then split this up, too.)
If your sleep is consistently disrupted because you have to put an older child back to bed several times each night, then it's OK to consider letting him or her into your bed -- but for a limited time. During the following few weeks, reward your kids for staying in their bed longer and longer.
'Til Sleep Do Us Part
Nearly 25% of partnered adults frequently choose to sleep alone. Whether your partner snores loudly, tosses and turns, or simply has a different shut-eye schedule, dealing with a bad bed partner can be a challenge.
To improve your sleep (and possibly help boost your marriage, while you're at it), keep a few "buffers" on hand, such as eye covers and ear plugs. These will help drown out any light or noise caused by your partner. You can find snoring-relief kits online or at your local pharmacy.
Do you like it hot, but your partner likes it cool? The ideal bedroom sleeping temperature is between 65 and 72 degrees. To split the difference and boost comfort levels for both of you, consider an electric blanket for only one side of the bed, or a quilt that is half down and half cotton.
Or just toss it in -- your mattress, that is. A wide array of high-tech, adjustable-side options are now available, allowing each of you to custom-set your comfort levels. Some companies will even tailor-make mattresses based on the individual specifications of you and your bed partner.
These tried-and-true shut-eye solutions should help you track down the culprits that are keeping you up at night.