"Help, I can't sleep!" Relief for new moms with insomnia

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"Help, I can’t sleep!" Relief for new moms with insomnia

It goes without saying that the early days with a newborn can be big on love but short on sleep. There’s a lot that can get in the way of your little one sleeping through the night. It takes time for your little one to learn to distinguish day from night, to learn how to put herself back to sleep on her own, and to be able to go for several hours without needing to feed. With all of this in mind, it’s no surprise that Baby may keep you from getting a full night’s sleep for quite some time. But what if it’s not actually Baby that’s keeping you up? What if your little bundle of joy is being oh-so-sweet and actually sleeping at night… but you just can’t? You might be experiencing insomnia.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can manifest in a few different ways. It might make it difficult to fall asleep, make it difficult to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up early and then have difficulty falling back asleep. You might also feel tired when you wake up and feel drained of energy in a way that makes it hard to get through the day. Again, these descriptions can easily be confused with just being a new parent - if Baby is keeping you up at night, causing you to wake up early, or just keeping you working overtime caring for her during the daylight hours, it can leave you plenty exhausted. But insomnia - unhelpful obstacle that it is - can just add to that and make it impossible for you to get the rest you need.

What can help?

Many adults experience insomnia at some point. Assuming Baby isn’t the big culprit keeping you from getting shut-eye - and let’s be honest, she may very well be a part of the equation - there are a few things that may be able to help improve your sleep(less) situation.

It goes without saying that it might be hard to do all these things all the time - and some ideas might sound downright luxurious or impossible right now, because life with a little one is often full of the unexpected - but to try and incorporate even one or two of these suggestions might make a difference.

What if it’s something else?

Though it’s not always the case, sleep troubles - both sleeping too little and sleeping too much - can also be a sign of postpartum depression (PPD). Trouble sleeping could also be caused by other medical conditions or medications. Ruling out medical reasons for insomnia, including PPD, can be an important part of figuring out how to beat it.

Postpartum depression is a type of depression that often develops within the first few weeks of giving birth but can also develop anytime within the first year or so after having a baby. Symptoms of postpartum depression are broad reaching, and go beyond trouble sleeping. Symptoms can also include:

Postpartum depression is more common in those with a history of depression or mental illness and in those experiencing major stresses, like pregnancy complications, difficulty breastfeeding, or a sick child. It’s estimated that perhaps 10 to 15% of new moms develop PPD, and the number could be even higher, so if any of these symptoms sound familiar, you should know you’re not alone.

How to get help

Because the postpartum period is tough to begin with, it might not surprise you that you’re having trouble sleeping - but that doesn’t mean you need to suffer through it. You can certainly try some of the above suggestions, but you should also talk to your healthcare provider so they can help you find some relief. Speak to them if you think you’re suffering from postpartum depression so that they can help you find a treatment plan that’s best for you. Even if you’re simply wondering what’s normal - Are you experiencing insomnia or just a new parent? Could your insomnia be related to PPD? - do reach out to them. When you have a new little one, getting shut eye is no small thing, and you deserve to sleep well and feel good.

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