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Sleep-deprived parents could be inadvertently risking safety

Sleep is a precious commodity when a newborn joins the household. As a new parent, you may wake up several times a night to tend to your baby’s needs, and the disruption to your sleep schedule can be jarring.

Sleep deprivation can cause a variety of irritating effects to the brain and body, such as moodiness and weight gain. However, it can also cause dangerous effects, such as slower reaction times, decreased awareness of hazards and reduced ability to focus. When driving, these dangerous effects of sleep deprivation can cause impairment comparable to driving drunk, and drowsy driving causes at least 100,000 car crashes every year.

Other types of drowsy drivers may be able to change their habits to prevent being tired when driving, but as a new parent, you may have limited ways to alter your schedule. Although you may be at the mercy of your newborn’s sleep patterns, there are steps you can take to keep yourself and your baby safe from drowsy driving crashes.

Take action to attain the sleep you need

The best way to prevent drowsy driving is to get enough sleep. This can be challenging when you are a new parent. However, there are actions you can take to make the most of a difficult situation.

Actions you may consider taking, include:

  • Having your baby sleep nearby for convenience
  • Alternate night shifts with the other parent, if possible
  • Go to bed much earlier
  • Avoid looking at electronic devices when you wake up at night
  • Sleep when your baby sleeps throughout the day

If you notice you are struggling to get enough sleep, do not feel bad about asking for help or taking people up on their offers to babysit. You should also not feel bad for not taking on additional responsibilities during this difficult time.

Know when you are too tired to drive

If you are struggling to get enough sleep, it may be unsafe for you to drive. To avoid an unsafe situation, it can be valuable to be able to identify when you are too tired to drive.

You may be too tired to drive if:

  • You have a hard time maintaining your speed
  • You catch yourself drifting out of your lane
  • You cannot remember the last few miles you have driven
  • You have trouble keeping your head up or your eyes open
  • You are yawning frequently

Drowsy driving could put you, your baby and others on the roadway at risk, so if you are too tired to drive safely, it is best to find someone else to drive or allow yourself time to get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel. Finding the time to get enough sleep is important when you are a new parent because you need sleep to function properly and to be the best parent you can be.

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