for some parents, nights up with a newborn can morph into clinical insomnia — a risk factor for postpartum depression. i often refer to the perinatal period, or the time immediately before and after birth, as a perfect storm for insomnia, which greatly increases the risk for postpartum depression. other changes, such as the major drop in reproductive hormones (which influence the body clock), and a shift for the brain to be more alert to listen for the baby, can also fuel chronic sleeplessness. at the same time, poor sleep quality and insomnia — difficulty falling asleep when the baby is sleeping, or getting back to sleep after waking to care for the baby — are well-established risk factors for postpartum depression. unhealthy bedtime behaviors include spending long periods in bed when frustrated or anxious and “trying” to sleep; inconsistent bed and wake times (usually because moms are timing their sleep to the infant, who doesn’t yet have a circadian rhythm); and thinking in bed (i hear from many women that this is the only uninterrupted time they have to themselves). finally, postpartum women do not get a lot of bright light during the day, and they often get too much light during the night when caring for their baby, which can confuse their body’s internal clock.
instead, if you are unable to sleep, go to another room and do something quiet and relaxing in dim light, and don’t return to the bed until you feel sleepy. a new mother’s sleep should be prioritized; she really needs her sleep to recover from the major physical stress of childbirth. in fact, because they are sleep deprived, new parents are typically able to fall asleep or return to sleep quickly when they have the opportunity. difficulty falling asleep or returning to sleep when the baby is asleep, when lasting for more than a few weeks, is a signal to involve a professional. sleep loss is a common, normal experience after the arrival of a baby. tackling sleep problems as soon as possible may help to reduce the risk of postpartum depression. you are free to copy, distribute, adapt, transmit, or make commercial use of this work as long as you attribute michigan medicine as the original creator and include a link to this article.
learn more about our editorial and medical review policies. newborns need to eat frequently, which can make it challenging for parents to rest in between feeds. older infants can go through periods of disrupted sleep, too, whether due to teething, a growth spurt or regression. for some parents, falling back to sleep after a midnight feed is as easy as returning to bed and shutting their eyes. here’s what new parents need to know about postpartum insomnia, including what causes insomnia after childbirth and how to manage your symptoms. thanks to vivid dreams, pre-birth anxieties and physical changes (frequent bathroom trips, heartburn and round ligament pain, to name just a few), insomnia is estimated to affect more than 75 percent of moms-to-be during the third trimester. falling back to sleep after nighttime interruptions can be difficult for some new parents.
poor sleep is closely linked to changes in routine and in your body — both of which are happening during the postpartum period. what’s more, insomnia can increase the risk of developing anxiety and depression. your practitioner can recommend medications and strategies to help treat your symptoms, such as talk therapy or antidepressants. sleep disruptions are often part of being a new parent, but when they become chronic and insomnia prevents you from getting the rest you need to function, it’s essential to seek help. if your insomnia persists for more than a month, talk to your doctor. if you’re breastfeeding, make sure you ask for one that is safe for nursing moms. from the what to expect editorial team and heidi murkoff, author of what to expect when you’re expecting. what to expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations.
leslie m. swanson, ph.d. for some parents, nights up with a newborn can morph into clinical insomnia — a risk factor for postpartum depression struggling to sleep after giving birth? learn what causes postpartum insomnia here, plus safe sleep aids if you’re breastfeeding. symptoms associated with pregnancy-induced insomnia include difficulty falling asleep, struggling to stay asleep, and frequent nighttime awakenings., .
possible symptoms include anxiety, fatigue, irritability, mood swings, and sadness. postpartum insomnia is caused by a variety of factors such as anemia, hormonal changes, physical changes, mood disorders, and changes to the sleep schedule. additionally, women undergo hormonal changes6 during the postpartum period. these include a decrease in the production of progesterone, a female sex hormone with sleep-inducing properties, and changes in levels of melatonin, which the body produces in the evening to promote sleepiness and relaxation. postpartum insomnia is much more common than many women know. some women struggle to fall asleep initially at night, while others have postpartum insomnia can arise for a few different reasons. one relates to hormonal shifts that occur after delivery. once you give birth, your the unimaginable hell of postpartum insomnia. after my daughter turned 4 months old, people stopped asking how i was—right when i got, .
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