Sleepy Mamas

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The clock is ticking. Have you bought Mom a mother’s day gift? If not, here’s some advice from WBHM’s Tanya Ott: Forget the candy and the flowers. Give mom some extra hours of sleep!

So it’s pretty ironic that I’m doing this story. On Wednesday I worked a 20 hour day covering the Gulf oil spill. But it turns out there are lots of moms like me. It’s 6:30 in the morning and Jennifer Kelley has already been up for hours with her baby.

“Ava Claire started our day off at 4:45 this morning. Say ‘I woke up! I was ready to eat!’ And then Davis woke up shortly after 5.”

Two year old Davis is dressed and just needs help buckling his sandals. Then it’s off to school for the kids and work for mom. Kelley works 12 hour days and is on call most nights and weekends. A study from the Sloan Work and Family Research Network finds that more women are working extra long shifts and nights. And those night workers report getting on average 45 minutes less sleep than daytime workers. Kelley says she gets just 4 hours of sleep a night.

“But it’s not to a point where I feel like I can’t function. I just don’t think my body requires much of it.”

Mary Umlauf is a sleep researcher at the University of Alabama

“In America we really undermine the value of sleep. We can probably blame it on Benjamin Franklin, early to rise! I’ve always read, you know you can get an extra hour of productivity by simply getting up earlier. What that does is you just shave off what is actually, physiologically required for you.”

A study released this week in the journal Sleep examines the sleep patterns of more than a million people around the world. Researchers found that people who get less than six hours of sleep a night are 12 percent more likely to die prematurely. And short of death there’s a whole host of other problems, says Mary Umlauf.

“Lack of sleep is statistically associated with cancer, obesity, any number of chronic health issues which are really plaguing our society.”

Umlauf says most people need 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.

Jennifer Kelley, that mom we heard from earlier, she knows this way too well. She’s the nurse manager of the mother-baby unit of UAB’s new Women and Infants Center.

“So in here we’ve got little babies that we’re watching because mama needed some rest.”

Kelley says she tells new moms to get as much sleep as they can. But she admits she doesn’t really take her own advice.

Me either! So kids, I have just one request this Mother’s Day. I love breakfast in bed. But please, not before 9 a.m.!