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Postpartum Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms And Tips To Deal With It

Although denied by many, postpartum insomnia is not uncommon. The pregnancy days would have given you some deep sleep troubles with having to wake up every now and then to run to the washroom or run to the kitchen to satisfy your hunger pangs, especially during the third trimester. Every would-be mother would have fantasized how post delivery they can at least sleep while the baby is asleep. Well, is this fantasy for real? In reality, the answer is a big NO.

Your hospital stay just after delivery would have been a struggle, especially as the newborn would begin crying any minute and the nurses would come in for your regular checkups every now and then, preventing you from catching up even an hour of sleep at a stretch.

However, your expectations of coming back home to be able to sleep peacefully might not actually get fulfilled. Read on to get more insight about postpartum insomnia and what you can do to deal with it.

Understanding Postpartum Insomnia

Almost faced by every new mother, postpartum insomnia can get really stressful taking a toll on your health. The best way to understand insomnia post delivery is the fact that you are unable to sleep even when your little bundle of joy is cozily deep asleep. The reasons for this could be varied: you being anxious about the little one's health, being worried about life with an infant, etc.

Causes Of Postpartum Insomnia

Following are some of the possible causes of postpartum insomnia:

• The birthing process plays havoc on your hormones. It takes time for your body to normalize again post delivery. This could lead to your internal clock also turning clueless about when to sleep and awaken.
• Night sweats are common post delivery. The hormones are responsible for this again. The water that supported you and your baby during pregnancy is no longer needed and hence flushed out in the form of sweating.
• Emotional challenges, otherwise also referred to as postpartum depression, can give you a tough time sleeping. You might have to seek help from a professional to treat your depression or excess anxiety.
• Sleep gets disrupted due to the routine night-time feedings. The internal clock is affected due to you frequently waking up making it difficult for you to go back to sleep.

Symptoms Of Postpartum Insomnia

• The stress that accompanies caring for an infant along with the inability to sleep properly leads to mood swings. Mood swings can also occur due to postpartum depression that needs medical attention.
• You get irritated easily when you are unable to take ample rest. Even one night of sleep deprivation can lead to rewiring your brain for more power to the so-called "fight or flight" response.
• When you have had days of insomnia, you are bound to appear emotionally depressed and sad.
• Inability to sleep makes you more anxious, especially when your mind is filled with thoughts about being unable to sleep the next night as well.

Tips To Deal With Postpartum Insomnia

• Do not turn on bright lights when you wake up to feed your baby during night time. Even scrolling through emails or accessing social media sites can actually mess with your internal clock and make it a challenge for you to go back to sleep. Bright lights or electronic device signals can actually make your body believe that it is daytime.
• If you have a caring partner who is willing to share the workload, then it is a great opportunity for you to take a bit of care of your own health and normalize your routine sooner. You can have milk pumped into bottles that your partner can wake up and help administer to the child. This would prevent you from having to wake up for every single feed.
• A tip that has been passed on from age-old days is to sleep when your baby sleeps. Do not be tempted to finish off chores when your little one is asleep. Care for your health first, at least for the first couple of months.
• Try going to bed early. This would facilitate you to find more time to rest. Staying up late will not help as you would need to anyway wake up in between the night time to feed and comfort your child.
• Keep your bedroom free of things like electronic devices, television and work-related stuff. The theory works like training your mind to feel sleepy as soon as you go into the bedroom. Do not indulge in last-minute official works just prior to sleeping.
• You could indulge in meditation before sleeping. This has shown to help plenty of new mothers. Relaxing activities such as a warm bath or a massage can also ensure that you get at least a bit of sound sleep.
• Sleep in a dark room. Our sleep-wake cycle signals us to feel sleepy when the lights are turned off. It is, therefore, always advised that you do not turn on bright lights in the middle of the night. Having dim, soothing lights in the bedroom can help you avoid preventing messing up with your sleep-wakeup cycle.
• Limit the amount of caffeine intake that you have. Just two cups per day should be sufficient.
• Deep breathing provides relaxation. You can lie down on your back and count to ten. This has been used as a relaxing and calming down method by many.

Story first published: Saturday, November 17, 2018, 12:00 [IST]
Read more about: postpartum insomnia tips