After birth, many women get a better understanding of the value of sleep. Especially if they suffer from postpartum insomnia. With a baby crying every few minutes, hormones bouncing, and stress levels through the roof, it comes as no surprise why so many women develop postnatal insomnia.
Although insomnia after a baby is fairly normal, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take this condition seriously. If it is not handled within a certain timeframe not only will it wreak havoc on your circadian rhythm, but it also might boost the risk of postpartum depression.
Types of postpartum insomnia
There are two ways women can experience postpartum insomnia.
The first can be that you have a hard time falling asleep at night, and the second is struggling to stay asleep. Whether you experience one or the other it can be detrimental to your physical and mental health. As well as your baby’s, given that you are their main caretaker.
Causes of postpartum insomnia
Even though the form of insomnia may be different amongst mothers, the causes behind them are pretty much the same.
Postpartum insomnia is commonly triggered by these situations:
- Hormonal changes (low levels of progesterone)
- Major life changes
- Postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety
- Challenging newborn schedule
- Baby’s sleep routine
- Not enough exposure to bright light during the day
- Other postpartum changes (ex. night sweats, breast engorgement, etc.)
How to deal with postpartum insomnia
Dealing with insomnia may vastly vary between each individual, as it depends on the mother’s medical history and overall health. However, there are some methods that you can try using to battle the fight against postpartum insomnia.
Create a routine
Given the fact that currently the routine mostly revolves around the baby, this may be a little harder to accomplish. However, establishing a bedtime routine for yourself and the baby can help with development and recovery.
Sleep-friendly environment for postpartum insomnia
This refers to making your room a sleep haven. Keep your bedroom only as a sleeping area, and when it is time to sleep make sure the room is dark and cool enough for your body to be comfortable. Avoid using your bedroom during the day as an area to watch TV, hang out with your partner or even play with your baby.
Diet & eating habits
Insomnia after having a baby is most commonly caused by hormones, so try to stay on top of your postpartum diet to help balance them out. Consider including foods that boost the production of melatonin such as nuts, kiwis, tart cherries, and fatty fish. Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake.
You’ll also want to be mindful of when you eat. Having a large meal before bed disturbs sleep.
Relaxation plays a big role in getting quality sleep. Meditation and breathing exercises are some of the best ways a mother can calm down before going to sleep. Practicing this can help your brain ‘turn off’ and feel less anxious and stressed about being able to fall asleep.
The Bellabeat Wellness Coach includes several meditations aimed at women in their fourth trimester.
Apart from the aforementioned suggestions, there are a few other things that can be taken into consideration to get a better night’s sleep.
- Stay Hydrated
- Stay away from blue or bright light 1-2 hours before bed
- Consider sleep training
- Share the workload
- Go for walks during the day
- Keep night care brief
When to seek professional help for postpartum insomnia
Typically, if you are suffering from short-term insomnia it will last up to three months give or take. However, if your postnatal insomnia is pushing past 4 months it is considered to be long-term, which should be spoken about to your doctor or sleep specialist.
Bear in mind that since postpartum depression is in close connection with postpartum insomnia, as soon as you start feeling any additional symptoms speak to a physician as soon as possible.
The postpartum period brings a lot of physical and mental changes, one of them being postnatal insomnia. Mothers can be past the point of sleep-deprived due to not being able to fall asleep at night or they’re unable to stay asleep. The possible causes of insomnia after having a baby range from hormone and stress levels, to lack of light exposure during the day. There are several ways you can deal with postpartum insomnia, starting from establishing a good sleep to practicing relaxation techniques. If insomnia lasts beyond the point of 4 months it’s recommended to consult a doctor.