The Impact of Sleep Loss on Mothers continued...
"If you're getting enough sleep, it will help you be a more involved mother," says Mindell. "It's certainly a lot easier to play the 17th round of Ring Around the Rosie with your 2-year-old when you're not exhausted."
There are real risks to chronic exhaustion, too -- risks that many sleep-deprived mothers just don't take seriously.
"Not getting enough sleep really affects your ability to function," says Mindell. "You're more likely to make mistakes when you're tired. You're more likely to slip and fall, or cut yourself when chopping vegetables, or forget to fasten the straps of your baby's high chair."
Some of the scariest risks come when a sleep-deprived mother gets in the car. Studies have compared the risks of driving drowsy with the risks of driving drunk -- it's estimated to cause 100,000 auto accidents a year. And yet mothers who would never, ever drive their children after having a few glasses of wine drive exhausted every day.
"I worry a lot about all the moms out there who are driving drowsy," says Mindell. "They're struggling to stay awake with a 1-year-old sitting in the backseat. That can have terrible consequences."