Helpful Tips to Overcome Postpartum Insomnia

Studies show that high percentages of women experience postpartum insomnia after giving birth. These sleep-focused tips should help you sleep better soon.

Imagine this; the house is silent, the baby is asleep, you finally watched that Netflix show you’ve been dying to watch, and now it’s time for bed. Unfortunately, your mind disagrees!

Is insomnia common after having a baby?

Studies show that up to 40-60% of women will experience postpartum insomnia within six weeks after giving birth (Sivertsen, B., Hysing, M., Dørheim, S.K. et al., 2015). And while we would like to believe that insomnia goes away soon after that, unfortunately, the same study shows that insomnia remained high at 41 % at year two postpartum.

postpartum insomnia

Common causes of postpartum insomnia

A question you may have is, what is triggering this insomnia, and how can you get help to get the sleep you need? First, let’s talk about how insomnia typically comes about and what is exacerbating it over time.

Pregnancy and the postnatal period are an especially vulnerable period for developing insomnia and other sleep disturbances in women. We now know that insomnia during pregnancy is significantly associated with postpartum anxiety symptoms (Osnes RS, Roaldset JO, Follestad T, Eberhard-Gran M, 2019).

Your body is changing, including positioning, hormones, and not to mention those night sweats (no, you didn’t pee the bed, but now you are thanking yourself for purchasing that mattress cover)!

Learn more about your postpartum hormone timeline here.

Many people tell you about sleep deprivation in the postpartum period, but you assume it’s due to the frequent baby awakenings. In most cases, it is, but your sleep is significantly disrupted, making it harder to fall back asleep. It’s also harder for some women to fall back asleep because your mind is racing, and you can’t stop worrying about your baby. You also may have depression symptoms that can overlap with tiredness, including low energy, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, or excessive sleepiness.

You can’t be the best mama you can be with little to no rest.

Kelsey Alford

What is essential to know is that depression, anxiety, and insomnia are all related and often worsen each other, but having one alone does not cause the other. It is important to work on each piece of the puzzle.

You aren’t going to improve your mental health without good sleep.While I know it’s tempting to finish the dishes, write out those thank you notes, or watch another Netflix show; I’m here to give you permission to make rest a priority in your life.

postpartum mom

Help! How can I stop postpartum insomnia immediately?

While you may not stop insomnia immediately, these three tips for overcoming sleepless nights can help you get the rest you need.

1. Have a bedtime routine

We always talk about having a bedtime routine for kiddos, but develop one for yourself too! It doesn’t have to be complicated. Your bedtime routine could include:

  • Journaling about your day
  • Reading a real book (put down that sleep-disrupting Bluelight phone)
  • Listening to a guided meditation (try the Mindful Mama’s App if you need a good one!)
  • Turning off the TV an hour before bedtime

2. Create a comfortable bedroom environment

White noise machines aren’t just for baby! This one is my favorite because of the personalized wake-up routines. And if you’re room sharing with your baby, the soft white noise will help you both have sweet dreams.

3. Get the professional help you need

Treating your depression and anxiety will help you get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based therapy – and medication – are effective in treating postpartum depression and anxiety. You can find a therapist in your area here.

Final thoughts on helping postpartum insomnia

While postpartum insomnia is common, it’s not a pleasant experience for anyone in the home. It’s important to get the care you deserve to help you get the best sleep possible during your postpartum period. This could include getting your little one on a better, more supportive sleep schedule. Check out these free sleep resources to get the whole family sleeping well!


Kelsey Alford
Kelsey Alford

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Kelsey is a mama of two and a pediatric nurse practitioner with advanced sleep medicine and behavioral sleep training. Coming from a science background, I use evidence-based sleep approaches to successfully get your child sleeping in a developmentally appropriate way through 1:1 consultations and close follow-up care. Sleep is not just a luxury but a necessity! You don't have to parent alone, and I'll be right there with you making sleep changes that work.

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