If you’re a parent, chances are good that you don’t always get enough sleep. While we usually associate sleep deprivation with meeting the needs of a new baby, it can also be a problem for hard-working parents of school-age children, or those who are waiting up for a teenager to come through the door. Of course there’s no magic formula to make parenting tasks conform to a reasonable schedule, but even small improvements in your sleeping patterns can have a big positive effect on your life.

Why is sleep so important?

The Harvard Women’s Health Watch points out six ways in which sleep deprivation can have a major effect on your life. Their list includes weight gain, higher blood pressure, irritability and moodiness, decreased immune function, less ability to learn, and greater vulnerability to accidents of all kinds. That’s a pretty extensive problem list, so even a modest improvement in your sleeping patterns will help protect your health as well as your family’s wellbeing. Here are some tips to get started: