8 reasons grandparents should not resist a rest

Once you're old enough to be a grandparent, a good night's sleep is hard to come by. Chalk it up to hormones, hot flashes, medications, and more. Considering the causes can be exhausting in itself.

Despite our continual quest to quench our desire for downtime, we grandparents often flat-out refuse to rest our weary heads when we're with our grandchildren. Whether it's because we feel guilty or we simply want to "get stuff done," resisting a rest can be detrimental to our health and happiness. Detrimental to the health and happiness of our grandchildren, too—especially when they're in our care.

Here's why:

sleeping woman and dog 

NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP...

Impairs cognitive ability. When we're tired, we literally don't think clearly. A foggy brain keeps us from concentrating. It makes it difficult to learn new things grandkids want to teach us ("Wanna play the Xbox with me, Grandma?") and limits our recall of things we already knew. We might go through the names of every kid in the house before hitting on the one we meant to say or, worse, fail to recall the new rules of babysitting (Baby on his back or his belly at bedtime?).

Impacts decision making. Sleep deprivation makes us more likely to make poor choices. From allowing junk food for dinner or too much time on the iPad, to engagement in downright dangerous activities, we just might say "yes" to the grandkids when "no" would have been a better decision.

Affects memory. Memorable moments can get stuck in a limbo of short-term memory when we lack sleep. Meaning they'll quickly be replaced by new memories and gone for good. That's not good when it comes to recalling special times with grandchildren. Short-term memory can take a hit, too. Which can be disastrous when we're supposed to recall directions for distilling a child's medication or how many scoops of formula we just added to the bottle of water for the screaming baby awaiting dinner.

Makes for a cranky grandparent. A short fuse, whining, complaining, moodiness, and tears indicate somebody needs a nap. If lacking sleep, it just might be Grandpa or Grandma who needs to be sent to bed until his or her mood improves—or risk being remembered by adoring grandkids as a crabby cuss they'd rather not spend time with.

Contributes to car accidents. Driving requires an alert mind, quick reflexes. Never more so than when there's precious cargo in the car. Drowsy driving can be deadly driving. Getting behind the wheel requires getting enough shut-eye first.

Contributes to falls, too. We're far clumsier when not caught up on sleep. Falls can be fatal. Or disabling. Or super scary when tripping or falling with a kiddo in our arms or on our shoulders. At the very least, it can be super embarrassing (and concerning to them) to stumble in front of the grandkids.

Weakens the immune system. There's no way around it: Kids are germ factories. If you're tired when visiting grandchildren, you're more likely to end up succumbing to all those germs they produce and carry. Plus, if you're a long-distance grandparent who flies to see the little ones, airplanes are worse germ factories than kids. Traveling by plane when your defenses are down guarantees a bug of some sort will hitch a ride home with you.

Leads to life-threatening ailments. You've likely already heard that not getting enough sleep can increase one's chances of developing heart-disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, osteoporosis, and more. Plus, it prevents our brains and bodies from having the downtime needed for cell regeneration from head to toe. Some studies even show long-term sleep deprivation can lead to brain damage.

The bottom line is this: When a short power nap in the afternoon can help us live longer, healthier lives—thus giving us more time to spend with our grandkiddos—why not simply hit the sack next time the sandman calls?

Sweet dreams!

Today's question:

How often do you nap?