Postpartum Insomnia: What Causes Sleepless Nights Of Fourth Trimester

Sleep loss is a common, normal experience after the arrival of a baby. But if you develop difficulty falling asleep or returning to sleep,  even after several weeks of delivery, you must be having postpartum insomnia.

Harleen Kaur
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postpartum insomnia

Postpartum Insomnia: Understanding Sleepless Nights Of Fourth Trimester

 Welcoming a new baby into the world is an incredible experience, but it also brings significant changes to a mother's life, both physically and emotionally.

Have you ever wondered why your baby has slept, and you still can't in spite of being extremely tired and you are in dire need of sleep?

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Sleep loss is a common, normal experience after the arrival of a baby. But if you develop difficulty falling asleep or returning to sleep,  even after several weeks of delivery, you must be having postpartum insomnia. 

Research shows, 67% of women experience postpartum insomnia. It all happens because of the massive influx of responsibilities, postpartum depression, and hormonal fluctuations that disrupts moms' sleep-wake cycle during the postpartum period.

Postpartum insomnia is a very serious health condition, it is a common sleep disorder that is often characterized by difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking up too early, and/or non-restorative/poor quality sleep, a lot of sleepless nights".

According to the Office on Women's Health, short-term insomnia may only last a few days. Chronic insomnia can persist for 3 months or more if you take more than 20-25 minutes to sleep, it could be an early sign of insomnia or another sleep disorder. 

Causes of Postpartum Insomnia:

Postpartum insomnia is commonly experienced in the fourth trimester and is caused by a variety of factors such as anemia, hormonal changes, physical changes, mood disorders, and changes to the sleep schedule.

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Hormonal Changes:

After childbirth, a woman's hormonal levels undergo significant fluctuations. The sudden drop in estrogen and progesterone, combined with the increase in prolactin (the hormone responsible for milk production), can disrupt the sleep-wake cycle. These hormonal changes can make it challenging to fall asleep, even when physically exhausted.

Postpartum depression (PPD) or postpartum anxiety:

The transition into motherhood brings a range of emotions, from joy and excitement to stress and anxiety. The pressures of caring for a newborn, coupled with the responsibility and adjustments required, can lead to heightened anxiety levels. Racing thoughts, worry, and an overactive mind can make it difficult to unwind and relax, contributing to insomnia.

Lifestyle Adjustments:

The demands of a newborn can significantly impact a mother's daily routine and sleep patterns. Frequent nighttime awakenings for feeding or comforting the baby can disrupt sleep continuity and leave mothers feeling sleep-deprived. Additionally, the irregular sleep schedule and lack of a consistent bedtime routine can further contribute to difficulties in falling asleep or maintaining quality sleep.

Causes of Postpartum Insomnia.

High levels of cortisol and adrenaline:

The high levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which are stress hormones, can interfere with sleep cycles and contribute to insomnia. Pain, whether it is from physical discomfort or emotional distress, can trigger the release of these stress hormones. When cortisol and adrenaline levels are elevated, it can be challenging to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Physical postpartum changes, such as breast engorgement or night sweats:

If your breast feels fuller at night and gets engorged it is very tough for you to have good sleep. Postpartum changes in the body can also lead to temporary and short-term postpartum insomnia but it will be gone away in a few weeks.

Iron Deficiency:

5 Pregnant women are at an increased risk of anemia, especially right before birth. Women who experienced heavy bleeding during childbirth may be anemic in the postpartum period. 6 Having a low iron level after birth then raises your risk of postpartum insomnia.

Relationship Issues: 

The demands of caring for a newborn can put a strain on a couple's communication patterns. Sleep deprivation and exhaustion can make it challenging to effectively communicate and resolve conflicts, leading to increased tension and stress within the relationship. Unresolved conflicts or unresolved feelings of resentment can contribute to anxiety and disrupt sleep.

Postpartum insomnia is a very serious health condition. It can be harmful to the mother and affect her infant, partner, and other small children in the home. Research has suggested a link between the mother's emotional well-being and behavioral health and the physiological development of her child.


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