Postpartum insomnia can occur after a person gives birth, resulting in episodes of interrupted sleep or the inability to stay asleep.
Researchers say physiological and psychological changes during and after pregnancy may contribute to insomnia. A recent study in Spain involving 486 females being assessed for insomnia around pregnancy found that over
Symptoms may persist for months and symptoms even years. Treatment may include lifestyle measures, therapy, or medications.
This article discusses postpartum insomnia in more detail, exploring symptoms, causes, and treatment options. It also suggests when a person may consider seeing a doctor.
Postpartum insomnia is a condition in which a person has difficulty falling asleep after giving birth. The
According to a
Individuals with insomnia may be unable to fall asleep or stay asleep, as the
- Anxiety and depression: The authors of a
2020 review of medical literatureassociate perinatal insomnia with mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. The perinatal period is when an individual becomes pregnant up to a year after giving birth. One review in this article found that women with sleep problems were more likely to develop postpartum depression.
- Obsessive thoughts: One article notes that those with mid-pregnancy insomnia have a higher chance of experiencing postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms.
- Irritability and concentration problems: Persons with poor sleep patterns may find it difficult to concentrate during work or to remember important things. They may also experience daytime sleepiness.
- Stress: At 1 month postpartum, some individuals may have poor sleep patterns and feel stressed.
How long can it last?
Postpartum insomnia varies from person to person, but it may last
A study published in 2017 found that new mothers slept for only 6 hours at night and less than 1 hour during the day 2 months after childbirth.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) recommends that people see their doctor if they have been experiencing interrupted sleep for months or if their tiredness is making it difficult to concentrate on work.
Healthcare professionals may provide a treatment plan or advice on how to treat insomnia and prevent any serious health problems from developing.
- changes to a sleep schedule
- reduced physical activity
- drinking caffeinated beverages
According to one study, postpartum mood disorders may also be risk factors for postpartum insomnia.
Restless leg syndrome may develop during pregnancy and after childbirth. It refers to the uncontrollable urge that a person may have to move their legs while sleeping. It can lead to insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
The following treatment options and remedies may be helpful for those with postpartum insomnia:
The authors of a
For example, therapists may suggest relaxing or using stress management techniques.
- sleeping and waking up around the same time
- avoiding drinking alcohol before going to bed
- avoiding eating large portions before bedtime
Prescription and over-the-counter medications may help treat insomnia, and healthcare professionals may prescribe them for long-term or short-term use. These include:
- Benzodiazepine receptors agonists: These act as a sedative and include zolpidem, zaleplon, or eszopiclone. Rare allergic reactions may occur.
- Benzodiazepines: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
approvedbenzodiazepines to treat insomnia, panic disorder, and epilepsy, among others. Side effects may include confusion and dizziness, but a person may take them if other treatments do not work.
- Melatonin supplements: These are available without a prescription and may help with sleep onset. However, they are not regulated by the FDA.
Tiredness tips for new parents
- Sleep when the baby sleeps.
- Don’t feel afraid to ask for support.
- Understand the baby’s sleep patterns.
- Aim to exercise.
- Try to manage stress.
- Learn the signs of postnatal depression.
It may not always be possible to prevent insomnia. However, people
- avoid using electrical devices in their bedroom
- dim the lights before bedtime
- napping for only up to 30 minutes
They may also consult a sleep specialist if home remedies have not worked.
Postpartum insomnia occurs when a person has difficulty falling asleep after giving birth. It may affect people with mental health symptoms such as stress or reduced physical activity.
Healthcare professionals may recommend attending therapy or prescribing medications.
Individuals may also consider maintaining a regular sleep schedule and avoiding caffeinated beverages before bedtime.