Working as a family sleep specialist in private practice for many years, I’ve noticed that a common issue facing many of my working parent clients — both when on family leave as well as in years thereafter — is the inability to function both at home and at work due to severe sleep deprivation.
With 70 percent of women and 92 percent of men with children under the age of 18 in the labor force, most parents must show up for work in the morning, regardless of whether they were up all night with their children. The elusive work/life balance isn’t even an option to consider when these working parents literally cannot stand on their two feet due to daily exhaustion.
As we all know, when children do not sleep, neither do their parents. Sleep deprivation is at epidemic levels worldwide. Not just for adults, but also for children and teenagers. The good news is that society is finally starting to understand the importance of a healthy sleep life. As such, corporations have begun to offer adult sleep coaching to their employees.
However, for working parents, no adult sleep coaching techniques will do any good when they have children who won’t go to sleep or stay asleep at night. These working parents must first learn how to teach their children and teenagers healthy sleep habits before they can begin to improve their own sleep as well. With 69 percent of all children experiencing one or more sleep problems a few nights per week, 36 percent of children waking at least once per night and 87 percent of teenagers being sleep deprived, most families are not getting the sleep they need and deserve. Therefore, working parents are reporting to their jobs completely exhausted every single day. It’s no wonder that a recent study found working parents to be substantially less productive than their colleagues due to lack of sleep!
Sleep deprivation clearly has a negative effect on working parents. We see it physically (as it increases the risk of heart attacks, stroke, cancer, dementia and obesity), emotionally (as it increases levels of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders) and behaviorally (as it leads to poorer concentration, efficiency, judgement, and decision making), Sleep deprivation also affects companies’ bottom line by costing them over 100 billion annually in lost production, medical expenses and sick leave.
Offering a Corporate Family Sleep Program to working parents is a unique and groundbreaking way to help both working parents and their corporations reap the benefits of a well-rested family. The corporate sleep division of my sleep consultancy, Sleep Well / Work Well, offers corporate family sleep programs such as workshops, weekly support groups, one-on-one support and a family leave benefit. (After all, a new parent loses the equivalent of 6 weeks of sleep in the baby’s first year of life.) Past corporate clients such as LinkedIn, The Broad Institute of Harvard & MIT and The Boston College Center for Work & Family have all recognized the value in providing an innovative working parent support service such as Family Sleep Coaching.
Offering working mothers this invaluable type of family sleep education, support and solutions will have a positive impact not only on these employees, but also on the corporations they serve.
Founder of SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ and SLEEP WELL/WORK WELL, Dr. Whitney Roban provides the education, solutions and support parents need to have a well rested family. Dr. Roban’s unique and invaluable education, training, and experience as a Clinical Psychologist paved the way to her success as a leading expert in family sleep.