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Odds are, if you’re a parent, you're missing the mark on nightly Zs. Find out for yourself, but sleep easy; Getting back on track is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Look at the graphic below and try to spot the dots as they turn on and off.

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It’s difficult to do, right?

Here’s the shocker: They’re not moving at all. It’s a static image. Perhaps if you were well rested and feeling sharp you would have caught that.

Now for the facts:

Sleep experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health, and safety.1 A lack of sleep can go well beyond being tired; it can affect how you think and cope, leading to an overall decrease in mental acuteness.

Sound familiar? If you’re a parent, there’s little wondering why: Parents of newborns often lose about two hours of sleep per night until the baby is 5 months old. From then until their child hits 2 years old, on average parents lose an hour of sleep each night.2

Even then, getting your full dose can be challenging. In fact, a poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 76 percent of parents have frequent sleep problems.3

When you sleep only a couple of hours per night on an ongoing basis, you build up a "sleep debt" that can be hard to pay back. If your sleep debt persists over time, your health can suffer.

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Finally, the good news:

Fighting back is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

1 - Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. All are stimulants. Though some people claim alcohol helps them fall asleep, it actually increases wakefulness during the night.

2 - Avoid exercising within three hours of bedtime as the physiological stimulation disturbs the sleep process.

3 - Consider using your lunch-break at the office to catch up. While naps won’t fully get you back to where you want to be, even a short one can help to improve mood, alertness, and performance. According to National Sleep Foundation, you’d be in good company too; famous nappers include Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison.

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