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Insomnia and anxiety are often intertwined.
I am not a medical professional. I’m just a person who has been taking medication for anxiety since high school. Who experienced chronic insomnia as an adult. And had horrible, terrible, no good, very bad postpartum insomnia after giving birth to my first baby. Honestly, I can’t remember how soon afterward it started. Because you know: baby brain.
This was just the tip of the iceberg for me. My general feeling after giving birth was that I had no idea how to take care of myself. So the road to recovery for me was long and painful. Which is why I’m sharing this information to help another mother out there with postpartum insomnia.
If you are looking for medical advice or have a medical condition: PLEASE SEE A DOCTOR. Reminder that the year you give birth you likely have reached your out-of-pocket maximum. That means it’s time to go do all the things you usually can’t or don’t want to pay for. I.e. visit a dermatologist, get that weird vein in your leg checked, etc. More on this later. I will also save my rant about how healthcare is SO expensive in this country. And how we cannot always afford to get the care we need.
Here’s what to do if you’re struggling, too.
If anyone else has experienced postpartum insomnia, frequent sleepless nights, or wants to be set up for a lifetime of better sleep habits, here’s what I know. Visiting (or e-visits) with a psychologist who specializes in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) have been SO helpful to me. It has literally changed my life. There’s nothing worse that being sleep deprived and exhausted. Yet for some reason you’re the only one in the household who can’t sleep.
Fun fact from my doc: Mom’s (or primary caretaker’s) and baby’s brain waves are actually linked. So you go in and out of sleep cycles together. That’s why it’s easier to wake up for nighttime feeds when you sleep in close proximity to baby.
What to expect from treatment for postpartum insomnia and some quick tips I learned.
If you want a glimpse into what that means before committing to take the plunge, here’s a peek into what I have learned over the past few months:
- The best thing you can do to improve the long-term quality of your sleep is have as much consistency as possible in your sleep routine and schedule.
- Let’s back up for a second: Start by establishing a sleep routine you can stick to every night starting at least 30 min before bed! This routine should be free from screens of all kinds. Mine starts with doing my bedtime hygiene in a dimly-lit bathroom. Then I go to a comfy chair in a designated spot in the house, again in low light. I write in my Line A Day Journal, take my medication, light a calming scented candle, and read until that 30 minute time is up. Then I crawl into bed, always turning to the same side, always wearing the same thing, always with the same fan on the same setting. Every. Single. Night.
- Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day–yes even on weekends–within a 30 min window.
- Reserve bed for sex and sleep only. Don’t even read in bed.
- No naps at all for the first few months until your body’s rhythm can be reset.
You can do it, and it’s so worth it.
There’s a lot more to it, and once again, I urge you to speak with a healthcare professional if you have similar issues or believe you have postpartum insomnia.
I just want you to know this really works and it’s a huge weight lifted off my chest to begin to get sleep regularly again. It’s hard to stick with in the beginning but so, so worth it. Let me know what you think about these tips in the comments below.
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