Insomnia After Childbirth
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Insomnia After Childbirth
I have been experiencing bad insomnia and related anxiety
about it for almost 4 months now. Sleep has always been a
source of stress for me, for whatever reason. My 14 month
old is finally a great sleeper and i'm having such a hard
time. It's been pretty consistent now- I'll have trouble for
a week or so, then it will go away for a few days, then come
back, etc. I was on a pretty good stretch and then we took a
trip to france which messed everything up. now i'm back with
jetlag and the insomnia. i have no reserves left and
basically feel like i'm losing my mind. i will be awake for
hours on end, and sometimes the entire night. not
particularly stressed about anything but sleep itself has
become the stress. i did a kaiser class on CBT and though it
was helpful, i'm having trouble breaking the cycle. i took
ambien a few times but it really made me feel depressed.
other sleep aids, including herbal, aren't recommended for
breastfeeding moms. i read ''say goodnight to insomnia'',
which many BPN folks recommend. tried acupuncture, helpful
but getting expensive. i'm sick of myself and sick of this
problem- and mostly just sick of being utterly exhausted and
on the verge of breaking down many days of the week. i feel
like i don't have the energy i want to give to my baby and i
worry about sleep all the time. i know much of it is in my
head but it's started to feel like a physiological reaction
as well- get into bed, can't sleep. i know there's no magic
cure, but i'm hoping for something to change!
exhausted mama, but not because of baby!
I have SO been there. I feared goig to bed at night because I knew it would
be torture going to sleep! And had no qualms about taking sleep meds or
NyQuil to get to sleep (when I wasn't breastfeeding). I felt like I'd never be
able to fa asleep like when I was young. The ONLY thing that truly helped
is when I tried accupuncture. And I didn't even know if I believes in it but j
was desperate. I also had anxiety issues. It didn't helped immediately,
although I did fall asleep during my first session (and I never take naps). It
took about two weeks and after about 5appts in that time. I saw dr frank
Chung in rockridge. He's well known, gentle, and I've been sleeping well for
over a year now and haven't had to take any medication whatsoever. And I
don't even see him anymore because it's like he ''cured the problem''. So
after about 10 sessions (at $95 each) I stopped but could have stopped
sooner. I know that's expensive but sleep is so important to your well being.
Good luck to you.
Hi, I really empathize with what you are going through having experienced
the same symptoms you describe. My oldest will be 3 in September and he
just weened a few weeks ago. I just wanted to mention one thing that I
wish someone mentioned to me after the baby was born. During all my
insomnia I did a lot of research and I think found something that would
have been useful way before I got pregnant. And that's solid nutrition
information. Have you considered whether you are getting the nutrition
necessary to support the energy needed to recover from pregnancy, breast
feed and being a new mom? I thought I knew what a healthy diet was and
always prepard healthy meals, but didn't really pay attention to getting the
minerals and fats our family needed, especially for a nursing mom and
baby. Things like magnesium, calcium, vitamin A, D, K. I think these can
make a huge difference...especially magnesium. Besides that, the
schedule of taking care of a baby often means we put ourselves last,
including eating and drinking! But for me, full time breast feeding was just
as rigorous as carrying him for 9 months, if not more so. My advice before
checking into medications is to look at nutrition. I found valuable
information by looking up the Weston A. Price foundation and Real Food
info. All the best, hope you gain relief soon!
Been there done that
I am amazed at how common this is, especially with women
post baby and especially as we get older. All of my friends
have gone through this, including me. I have become a better
sleeper over time (even through perimenopause). It really
was bad after my second child. Mine was also coupled with
anxiety that I could not explain. Even the insomnia was
mystifying. I think the most important thing I did that has
helped is this: no screen time after 10pm. No electronics in
the bedroom, upstairs. Go to sleep at the same time every
night (11pm). That hour from 10-11, I have the lights low, I
do my bedtime routine, I read a chapter of something (but no
more than a chapter). It's not perfect, but I think it's
cleared up the problem nearly 90%. Before doing this, I was
taking stuff for sleep. Now I don't do that or anti-anxiety
meds. I'm convinced that screen time is a big player in the
First of all just know that this will pass and you are not
alone! It sounds a little like Postpartum Depression,
something I knew nothing about until I experienced it, after
the birth of my son. It can become a cycle, the worrying
about not sleeping keeps you from sleeping and the more you
want to sleep the more stressed you become. One thing that
worked for me was listening to a relaxation tape, like a
guided meditation. You can get them from the library or
itunes or online podcast. Really it does not matter which
one just as long as it does not bug you. It keeps you from
laying there thinking about sleep and guides your mind and
body to relax. I would find that I would become so relaxed I
would end up falling asleep. I would play it softly when
going to bed. You can try to take a warm bath and you may
want to try ''Rescue Sleep'' (by Bach--homeopathy). Get out in
the sunshine during the day, exercise (go for a walk etc).
Talk to your friends/someone about how you feeling. Most
importantly know that it will pass, your baby is getting
everything he/she needs, take care of yourself. Try not to
be hard on yourself and sleep will return!
This sounds like post partum depression. Most people think post partum
depression is sadness and crying but insomnia and anxiety (and anger and
brain fog) are often the main symtpoms women have.
I really wish I had known this and taken better care of myself when my
baby was small. I just thought i needed to man up! I didnt get any help
and i really ''fell down the rabbit hole''. When my son was 16 months he
started sleeping better - but i couldnt. By the time my son was 3.5 i was just
a ragged, exhausted, painful shell of myself.
Every minute of everyday i was hanging on by a thread and i regret daily
not getting the insomnia solved sooner because i just wasnt present for my
son. It breaks my heart and i wish i could go back and relive his baby time
as rested happy mama revelling with joy in my sweet kiddo.
Anyway- run! to your gynecologist and tell her how long you've been feeling
like this and work to get some rest. Antidepressants help some (not me).
You may need a new doc if your current one doesnt take this seriously.
Getting involved outside the home (job, garden, whatever) Sleep hygiene,
thyroid medication, and a hysterectomy were what helped me (i had
multiple reasons for the hysterectomy and im 46- so done having kids).
Progesterone helped a friend but ultimately made me way worse.
Keep trying till you get it solved.
Wished i had known-- lola
I know it's been awhile since you had your child, but this
could be post-partum depression/anxiety.
I had this VERY severely after I had my daughter and didn't
sleep for days. I was near a breakdown and went to an
outpatient program where I saw a psychiatrist who prescribed
me some medication for sleeping. My daughter was 7 weeks
old. She is now 2.5 and I am still breastfeeding her.
Here are some things I learned:
1. It is more important that I get sleep and take care of
myself than to be concerned about ''chemicals'' or drugs in my
milk as long as a doctor agrees that the concern/risk is
minimal. It also helps to be informed. I purchased
''Medications and Mother's Milk'' by Thomas? Hale and did a
lot of research on the medications I was taking because I
took a LOT.
2. You MUST take medication for sleeping to break the cycle.
Take it as long as you need. You are not failing if you do
so. I am still on sleep medications. In the beginning I was
very concerned about getting off them as quickly as
possible, but the anxiety prevented me from being able to do
3. Stress, lack of sleep, anything that interferes with your
sleep cycle can trigger the anxiety/insomnia and make it
worse. Since you just got back from France, that seems like
a clear stress and interference in sleep patterns that would
throw you off.
4. Psychiatrists are the BEST people to see for insomnia and
sleep problems, especially if they are willing to listen to
your concerns and provide alternatives in addition to
prescriptions. Also, when they give you clear information
about whether or not your concerns are valid and why. He/she
will also tell you what to do if, say, one night you have no
problem, but the next night you take the medication and then
anxious, or whatever your cycle is.
My advice to you: See a psychiatrist. Take medication to
sleep (I take Klonopin) as long as you need to get back on
track. You will eventually get there and, when you do, you
can taper off. Do NOT beat yourself up about taking
medication. This is something PHYSICAL not something you can
control. Sometimes our bodies need some assistance to get
back on track and we need relief in order to function
properly and be good mothers.
Wishing you good sleep!
It sounds like you may have post-partum hyperthyroidism. Many
women have thyroid issues for the first time during and right
after pregnancy. After the birth of both of my sons, my
thyroid went into overdrive. With the first, when I didn't
know what was happening, I couldn't sleep, was incredibly
anxious, would have bouts of stomach 'nerves' and was
generally in terrible shape. Turned out that my TSH levels
were hundreds of times above normal. Please go to your doctor
and have them check your TSH and T4.
I am looking for advice on how to cope with/cure insomnia.
I've never really had a problem with insomnia before but
have been struggling with it a lot since my son was born. He
now sleeps through the night but I do NOT. It's gotten worse
and worse, I think mostly because I am now so ridiculously
anxious about my inability to fall asleep or fall back to
sleep when I inevitably wake up 2-3 times a night. I've had
a number of nights lately where I get only a few hours sleep
and that was with the help of melatonin or benadryl which
are no longer doing the trick. My doc just prescribed
trazodone at a low dosage and it definitely helps but also
upsets my stomach and leaves me incredibly drowsy for hours
the next day so it does not seem like a great solution. I'd
also like to wean myself off sleeping drugs if possible. I
am open to things like cognitive behavioral therapy though I
am also a bit skeptical that it will be effective (at least
right away as I'm pretty up in my head about it at this
point and so on edge that I seem incapable of falling asleep
without drugs.) Any recommendations on drugs, therapists or
sleep specialists you've had good experiences with?! Please
be as specific as you can. Thanks in advance!
Sorry to hear about your insomnia!
I always had a hard time falling asleep, and my 16 year old
daughter has terrible insomnia, so here are some other ideas
based on a long search for help:
There are other, different medications/herbs you can take.
We've tried melatonin, Valerian root, clonodine, Ambien --
with essentially no success or with unacceptable side
effects (daytime fogginess).
There are sleep/relaxation CDs you can listen to. I have one
called Delta Sleep System which I bought for my daughter --
you can have it for free -- just email me your address and
I'll send it. My daughter didn't like the sound, but it
might work for you. (Trying to avoid spam, my email is
ircom1 at yahoo dot com). You might also try
meditation/guided visualization to help you relax after
you've woken up.
A book you might read that I found extremely helpful is ''The
Insomnia Answer'' by Paul Glovinsky. Clear, useful,
practical, empowering, and solutions-oriented.
For my daughter, who has a ''busy'' mind and a lot of daily
stress, we ended up going to the Stanford Sleep Disorders
Clinic. We are finally beginning to see some progress! They
did a comprehensive intake (on sleep habits, issues that
affect sleep, how lack of sleep impacts daily functioning,
etc.). We saw an MD initially, but then shifted to one of
their psychologists when it became clear that her issues
were related to her ''sleep habits'', hormone balance, and
patterns rather than any physical issue like sleep apnea.
They will tailor a sleep strategy designed to deal with your
particular issue. It's not a one size fits all solution when
it comes to finding sleep so I won't go into what strategies
worked for her. The MD was the one who suggested the
Insomnia Answer and their methodology is very similar. But
having a professional help identify the issues and suggest
solutions--especially after a long and fruitless search--has
been wonderful! More progress in two months than in two years.
Finally, I think insomnia is common with new moms because
you are in a hyper-vigilant state about your little one.
Hard to relax when you're always on guard! So a final
thought: can you switch roles with your partner so you feel
like you have certain ''nights off'' from your self-imposed
guard duty? I don't mean getting up, since your baby is
sleeping, I mean ''letting go'' of the sense of responsibility
that may be keeping you in a state of ''alert''. Just a thought!
Hi, I could have written your post. I never had insomnia or
depression before I had kids, but after first, I experienced
this but it subsided within a couple of months. For my
second, it was way worse. I was not sleeping and I
eventually was diagnosed with PPD. I, of course, did not
believe it, so it took me an entire year to finally go to
therapy and get on anti-anxiety meds. Both helped
tremendously. I just thought depression meant you were sad
and weepy. I wasn't. In fact, I felt like I was very
rational--except at night and I couldn't sleep. I think it
became a viscous cycle: the less I slept, the more anxious
and difficult I got. I also started drinking. I was always a
social drinker, but never like that. The second my husband
came in the door, I'd open up the wine. So, I got therapy,
got on Celexa and stopped drinking (almost totally). Big
difference. I was on the Celexa for about 8 months and have
been off now for years. I still suffer from occasional
insomnia that is directly stress-related and now, if I feel
stressed I take a Xanax on occasion. Again, I was one of
those people who was never depressed or anxious but now,
that's changed. I think it's a combination of having babies,
the economy (job loss and house underwater and all that),
recent illnesses in the family, etc. etc.
So, if I were you, I'd see a therapist and talk to your
doctor about seeing if you can get on anti-anxiety meds for
a temporary time. I hated the idea of doing it, but once I
did, it was so life-changing. In fact, I miss taking celexa
because I felt so great on it. I just experienced weight
gain with it so had to stop it. (Not everyone has that side
effect, however, and it was worth it to get back to normal).
Valerian root helped me with your exact problem after my
kids were born. It's very stinky. They say you can make a
tea out of it, but I just poured the capsule in a glass of
juice and downed it. It's not a sleeping pill, its a natural
root and people have been using it forever. All it did for
me was sort of empty my mind of worries so i could fall
asleep. If my kids cried or needed something in the middle
of the night I could easily wake up and then easily fall
back asleep again.
Two other anti-depressants to try in low doses: Doxepin or
Amitriplylin. Good luck.
I really empathize. I have had insomnia since I was a kid,
and after my 1st daughter was born it was awful. You don't
mention how old your child is - I guess regardless he/she is
sleeping through the night.
Some specific things that helped me were:
1) decreased stimulation as the evening set in; so after
dinner I stopped talking on the phone, having visitors, even
watching tv. I'd read a book and then get in bed (after
getting the baby all ready, etc);
2) had a similar routine every night - as in #1 - and got
into bed fairly early, no later than 10pm;
3) sometimes writing in a journal when awake and lying in
bed really helped me, esp when I was particularly anxious,
I'd just write it all down;
4) covering the clock so I couldn't see what time it was;
5) eliminating noise with earplugs and make it as dark as
6) stopping ALL caffeine - even chocolate (I did this for 9
mo after my daughter was born but I think it was mostly
7) I took Valerian which helped; I didn't take it every
night but it always helped. I worried about it impacting my
breast milk but it all seemed to turn out OK; I hated the
way Benadryl made me feel and it didn't usually work for me.
good luck. I have totally been there, it is so difficult!
Oh and I also tried acupuncture, which I think helped (but
also that could've been psychological too!)
Boy do you I feel you. My friends and family have been
*shocked* to see me dealing w/ insomnia... I've always been
the sure sleeper in the crowd. It's been a long slog to get
back to semi-normal. That said... since it DOES feel like
it's steadily improved, I'll pass on some thoughts.
First, I assume that you've already tried all the sleep
hygiene, exercise, going off caffeine, etc. etc. etc. You'll
probably get a lot of people recommending that. In my case,
I tried all that and was still in a world of yuck. I also
tried cognitive therapy and found it marginally helpful, but
not fundamentally so.
Also, assume your doc has checked your thyroid. If not, it's
an easy test and could potentially help.
Last, if you notice that it's cyclical with your periods
(worst right around your period), it's possible that a
birth-control pill could help stabilize your hormones, at
least a little.
What HAS helped:
Do what you need to do to stop a bad insomnia bout from
spawning secondary anxiety. As you know, once you're
panicked about not sleeping, nothing will help (benadryl,
etc.). I'm not sure I know anyone who wouldn't become
psychotic after going several nights without sleep. These
are the cases the meds are made for; be they anxiety meds or
sleep meds or whatever. To prevent a spiral.
Unless your docs find some magic cause (mine didn't), time
is probably the cure. So your only job is to survive until
things return to normal with your sanity in tact and without
becoming addicted to meds. I was pretty uptight about using
med, so I was super cautious about what I'd take when. For
example, I had an anxiety med that I'd take (half dose) on
only the very worst nights. I also had a short-acting sleep
med (sonata) that I could take on nights where it was clear
I wasn't going to fall back to sleep but there was still
enough hours left to care about.
If I took meds one night, I'd tough it out the next night.
I'd seize on the times that things were going semi-decently
to have a nice med-free streak. Or where I'd only use
benadryl or whatever.
It's not glamorous or even very desirable. But in my case, I
found that I had to let myself do what was needed to keep it
together while time worked its (very slow) magic.
I still don't know what really caused my insomnia. I'm just
glad that it seems to be waning, but it's taken 18 months to
My daughter did not truly start sleeping through the night
until she was around one-and-a-half, and only started
sleeping past the hour of 6am recently (she is now going on
three). I have no idea if that makes me especially blessed
or burdened - mostly I'm just grateful to have gotten to
this stage. The problem is that these past few years of
interrupted sleep and early wakings have wreaked havoc on my
own sleeping patterns. I used to sleep soundly through the
night. Now I wake up frequently, even though it's no longer
from my daughter's crying. I never go into a deep sleep.
It's like my radar is still on at the same acute level it
was during that first year-and-a-half. And even though 7am
once seemed brutally early to me, I now would consider it a
luxury if I could just sleep in til that glorious hour
along with my daughter.
I only sleep deeply when I take an over-the-counter sleeping
pill (diphenhydramine HCL). I'm worried that I'm developing
a dependency on the stuff, even though it's not supposed to
be habit-forming. So I'm trying to wean myself off of it and
am back to sleeping poorly. I've done a lot of reading about
sleep disorders, but all the literature seems to be
addressed to insomniacs: my problem is not falling asleep,
but staying asleep. None of the literature seems to address
the specific sleep issues faced by parents in the wake of
prolonged sleep deprivation. I'd be grateful to hear about
others' experiences and strategies for sleep re-normalization.
Will I ever sleep through the night again?
I struggled with this after having both of my children. I
could take prescription sleep aids and I'd still only get
4-5 hours of sleep, and it didn't feel like great sleep
given it was induced.
I eventually got over it after about a year with my
daughter, but there was no way I was doing that again when I
had my son - I was just so tired! And obviously being tired
affects everything you do - I was crabby, couldn't
concentrate at work, too tired to work out/etc.
This time, I went the acupuncture route. And also cupping
(that's where they use these glass cups on your back and it
creates big pock marks - which are temporary). It was THE
best thing to get me sleeping again, without drugs. The
acupuncture helped, but not like the cupping. With
acupuncture, I'd sleep well for a couple of nights, but then
go back to restless sleep. After just one time with the
cupping, I slept like a baby. Went back maybe a month later
to do it again, and once more when I went through another
period of sleeplessness, but that was it. I generally sleep
GREAT now, rarely use the OTC drugs (I use unisom on rare
occasion if I just know I'm too wired to sleep).
So just a suggestion to try the acupuncture/cupping route.
Anything is better than taking drugs. My acupuncturist also
did the cupping - I'm sure many of them do.
You will! You will! I know I had this, i assume most of us
do. I literally went 7 years without sleeping through the
night even once. This was because of having child after
child, but still. I'd be up for hours even after the last
kiddo was in her own bed!! Know what i did?
I started a 6 am exercise class! Eeewww, I hated it at
first. But it served many rewards, the biggest being a break
from the kids and more energy. But, also, I was crashing at
9 pm, and waking to the dreadful alarm at 5:30. In some ways
not as nice as cuddling with a nurser, but in some ways REAL
nice! Anyway, I suggest it, waking as early as needed to
exercise HARD before your partner leaves (now I'm totally
assuming you have the same life as I do! That's silly, but
just adjust accordingly), key thing to wake early and work
out hard, You're body will quickly adjust and knocking you
out naturally! Good luck
free at last
This is a subject near and dear to my heart! I too continued
waking up very easily and having trouble falling back to
sleep well after my baby was consistently sleeping through
the night. I found Benadryl to be helpful but am also
uncomfortable taking medicine consistently over such a long
period of time. (It's been a year and some months for me.)
re: insomnia, I think there are different kinds. Falling
asleep insomnia and staying asleep insomnia. *apparently*
the most successful long-term way of treating both kinds
w/out sleeping pills is cognitive therapy, which as far as I
can tell is your basic sleep hygiene stuff (not staying in
bed awake more than 1/2 hr, consistent bed time, not
spending too much overall time in bed, etc). I tried a
website where you fill out a chart every night (time to bed,
time awake, time out of bed, etc.) and then get suggestions
from a ''real person'' once a week. It was marginally helpful.
fwiw, in my case--surprisingly--the thing that has helped
the most was going on the birth-control pill. I think my
hormones had gotten thrown by
childbirth/breastfeeding/weaning and having them regulated
made sleep more stable. Sadly, the pill also made me
hormonal, so we're still experimenting with the dose.
I know thyroid is often a culprit... It's a simple test, if
you haven't done it already. (Mine was normal.) Don't know
about you, but I just kept having the feeling that my
nighttime ''idle'' was just running a bit fast.
That said, I still don't have this thing licked. I was
hoping time would be the best help, but as more time passes,
I wonder. I'll watch the replies you get with curiosity.
Glad you wrote in with the Q!
I had the exact same thing happen to me. try this book -
it's what finally cured my insomnia - and I tried lots of
Say Good Night To Insomnia by Gregg D. Jacobs
sleeping much better
Exercise, exercise, exercise!! If you are PHYSICALLY tired,
you'll sleep. Also, drink a couple of glasses of water before
bed. You'll wake up to pee around 1 a.m. and it is easier to
get back to sleep then, and sleep the rest of the night, than
it is if you wake to pee at 4.
This happened to me too. I think I was so used to being
awake and awakened, I was always ''on.'' So when I woke up
in the night and couldn't sleep, I would go sleep with my
kids. Then I slept fine. After awhile, I could sleep
through the night again.
First of all, I am so sorry- not sleeping is the worst and can really make you
crazy. This happened to me too. I realized that I needed help when I would
wake up everytime the neighbor turned on their kitchen light. I basically had to
train myself to sleep again, and this included taking Ambien. I had to take it
every night for about 3 1/2 weeks, then half the dose for another week or so,
until I felt that I could slowly wean myself off. Your doctor will be able to
prescribe a plan for you. I also had to go on the insomniac's diet- no caffeine
after noon, no chocolate before bedtime (ie dessert,) and working out in the
mornings, not evenings. It really helped, and it took about 3 months before I
could really get to sleep on my own. Now I may take a sleeping pill once or
twice every year- my prescription has expired. I do not have dependency
issues, however, which if a problem for you would need to be more closely
I could have written your post EXACTLY!!! I have 2 kids, 27
months old and 8 months old, and they both sleep soundly
almost all the time until 6:30 or 7 a.m. But my sleeping
pattern became a total mess, especially during the early
months of baby #1, and I thought it would never improve. I
have tried a lot of things, including going to the UCSF
Sleep Disorders clinic (nothing helpful come of that), going
on a course of sleeping pills for a few weeks (helped in the
moment, but didn't break the bad habits, as doctors had
hoped), etc. etc. Ultimately, the only thing that seems to
have helped is a combination of (1) getting regular
exercise, (2) getting to bed ridiculously early, and (3)
doing biofeedback. I was not very hopeful about the
biofeedback because I don't generally buy into that sort of
thing, but I have to say that it really really has helped
tremendously. My sleeping patterns still aren't great, but
it's SO much better. I am still a light sleeper, but
instead of waking up around 25-30 times a night (no
exaggeration), I now wake up probably 2-3. It is a HUGE
improvement. The guy that helped was Robert Avenson. I
don't have his contact info in front of me, but you can find
him online easily. His office is in Albany on San Pablo.
Ugh! I feel for you! Good luck!!
I have a great one-year old baby who's been sleeping beautifully
past 3-4 months. Unfortunately, although I never had any sleep
issues before I had her, I cannot seem to bounce back. The best
I can do is to sleep 6 hours, then wake up for 15 min and go back
to sleep. If something happens, like friend's Birthday party,
and I go to bed late, I get 4 hours of sleep at night for days.
I still use the monitor, but it's only to hear her when she's up
for the day. I think I'm pretty good about not picking up her
sleeping noises, and she's a fairly quiet sleeper anyways.
Do you have any advice?
I have always been a light sleeper but, after my daughter was
born (over 5 years ago) I had great difficulty staying asleep.
Since I had difficulty trying to breast feed, which exacerbated
my post-partum depression, I went to see a psychiatrist who
prescribed Ativan (anti-anxiety) for a few months, which worked
When I stopped taking it I was unable to sleep well and my
doctor prescribed a series of sleeping pills for me.
I sleep more soundly (but will still wake up to the sound of
noise) and for longer periods and feel more rested and able to
function. I've tried at least 8 different sleeping meds and
combinations of prescriptions but Lunesta seems to have helped
best. I would highly recommend seeing someone about your sleep
problems and I'm happy to discuss things that I've tried if
you'd like to email me.
There are many natural remedies, which you may have already
tried, but if not, I'd say check them out.
All of the following are over the counter and have been helpful
A good quality Calcium/Magnesium supplement before bed (I like
the gel caps). 5HTP (300 mg) about 1/2 hour before bed.
Also, there are herbal tinctures that work well for me (Passion
Flower or Calif. Poppy) or an Herb Pharm remedy (Nerve
Tonic...may have a new name).
hope you find something that works well for you.
Since my son was born, 3 months ago, I developed panic attacks at night
(palpitation, shortness of breath, tense neck and stomach), resulting in severe and
First it was due to the fact that my son was waking up every 1-2 hours for feeding,
and often wouldnt go to sleep in between, which made me tense as I laid in bed,
alarmed at any sound he would make which ususally would end in a cry.. after 2
weeks of that I started dreading the night, knowing it would not bring on rest.
Now my son sleeps in a separate bed in a separate room with my husband, and he
sleeps through the night.
I on the other hand am having problems falling asleep or staying asleep, many
nights I only get 2-3 hours a night, which makes me desperate and beyond
I'm looking for support, insight, and words of encouragement.
Thanks so much,
Hang in there. We had a similar sleeping arrangement for many
months, with the baby and my hubbie in one room, me in the
other. I had a horrible time falling asleep, dreading the baby
waking up. I desperately wanted to co-sleep, but couldn't. I'm
just a lousy sleeper. (After trying everything else we could
think of, we did cry-it-out at about 6 months, and though it
sucked, it has been the best thing we ever did for all of us.)
It will get better and you will sleep normally again. I
invested in some good ear plugs that helped me sleep while I
knew my husband was able to hear the baby.
hang in there
I could have written your message about 2 years ago. At about 3
months my baby started sleeping more and I totally stopped. I
was having anxiety about everything (and nothing). The anxiety
led to insomnia which led to depression. It took me a while to
realize it because I had never experienced depression before. I
ended up going on meds for anxiety and depression. I did quit
breastfeeding - not that I had to, but I had many other issues
with breastfeeding. It took a few weeks to get the right dosage
and was a few months until I felt ''normal'' again. I'm sure you
will get advice that doesn't include meds, but it really worked
for me. I'm now expecting again and feel good about the fact
that the meds will help if I need them again. Good luck!
I experienced severe postpartum depression and anxiety, so I really
feel for you. The good news is it's very treatable. I highly
recommend calling Dr. Shoshana Bennett, a psychologist who is in San
Ramon but will do phone sessions. She is a national expert on
postpartum mood disorders, and a very effective therapist who helps
you get better very quickly. I also went on medication, which helped
a lot. I can recommend Dr. Monika Eisenbud in Berkeley as a very
compassionate psychiatrist who specializes in postpartum issues, too.
Dr. Bennett has written excellent books on the subject, which are also
very practical and helpful.
This sounds very similar to my experience. I could not sleep after my
first child was born, and was a wreck. Even with someone else caring
for my baby so I could sleep, I couldn't sleep. Turns out this was a
symptom of postpartum depression and I continued to spiral down for
the first three months until I got help. Please go see your OB and
ask about this! You should be able to sleep.
I'm sorry to hear about what you're going through. If it helps at
all, and you don't already know, you're certainly not alone. As
many as 1 in 4 women experience problems with their moods postpartum.
I understand that you're only looking for support and
encouragement - and that might help some - but you might also
consider talking to a professional. Left untreated, the symptoms
of postpartum mood disorders often worsen. There are a number of
"treatment" options, but the important thing is that your panic
attacks CAN be treated effectively.
I suggest that you speak to a mental health provider who
specializes in helping women with postpartum mood disorders. I
would recommend speaking with Lee Safran, MFT. You can reach her
at 510-496-6096. You might also consider attending one of the
support groups at Perinatal Psychotherapy Services
I wish you well.
I really feel for you. I had this type of situation when my son
was about 4 mos old and it became very serious, very fast. It
took about 3 mos for me to get reasonably on top of the
situation, and another 3-4 for me to really have consistent good
sleep. I advise you to seek professional help immediately. You
arent being a great mom or spouse under these circumstances, and
you can really get in trouble with this much anxiety/insomnia.
I ended up being referred to a psychiatrist, because I had to
have some kind of medication to help, but I couldnt take most
drugs because I was nursing. I saw her for about 6 mos and I took
Xanax in very low doses for a while, then stopped. You likely
have an anxiety disorder, and a doctor will probably recommend
you consider antidepressants - a couple do not ''transfer'' to
breastmilk. I wish that I had also been referred to a CBT
specialist in sleep disorders - I hear these are even better for
treatment (tho you may need drugs to help at first). I wanted to
get into a sleep clinic, but the waiting list was months. I also
found a few books very helpful - especially one written by a guy
from the Mayo Clinic, and William Demant's book. There are many
''good sleep habits'' that will help a bit.
I really advise you to get on the phone and ask your OB for ideas
and a referral, because you would be surprised how fast you can
collapse if not sleeping with anxiety - a close friend of mine
ended up being hospitalized! She had to stop breastfeeding, went
on serious meds for a year. Thats what made me take action fast,
and I'm glad I did.
Feel free to contact me offline with questions.
Say Goodnight to insomnia by Gregg Jacobs is the best insomnia
treatment I found (accupunctune didn't help me). I have needed to
reread it when the insomnia reoccurs but it is the best treatment
out there in my opinion. Particularily chapter 5 on the whole
area of ''negative sleep thoughts''.
I'm really sorry about your insomnia, and also about your
anxiety. Both are pretty normal for the post-partum phase as
your whole being readjusts to nurturing your glorious baby. I
wrote some suggestions to another Advice Wanted post, ''Difficulty
to stay asleep at night'', so look there too. But some other
advice: try to deal with your anxiety while you are awake. In
the long run, that will help you while you sleep, too. And don't
be afraid to ask for help--from your doctor, a therapist, even
someone at the pharmacy who can direct you to soothing teas or
other sleep aids.
I get the Andrew Weil news letter, and it just recently had a
list of six ways to sleep better. Here they are:
1. Establish a consistent bedtime routine, and try to go to
bed at the same time every night.
2. Get plenty of exercise during the day. The more energy you
expend during the day, the sleepier you will feel at bedtime.
3. Reduce or eliminate your intake of caffeine, stimulants and
alcohol. Even when consumed early in the day, these can affect sleep.
4. Avoid large meals late in the evening.
5. Learn and practice a relaxation technique regularly:
Breathing exercises, meditation and yoga are good examples.
6. Don't obsess about not sleeping. Instead, remind yourself
that while sleeplessness is troublesome, it isn't life-threatening.
sleeping better now
Oh you poor thing! I had the same insomnia-exactly. I thought
it would correct itself the longer my new baby slept through
the night. I waited til she was 5 months.I went to my Dr. and
she put me on Ambien. I could fall asleep on it but I would
wake up after 3 hours or so. Then I tried Ambien CR (controlled
release), it's really expensive but totally worth the
investment for your sanity. Also, they offer a free 7 day trial
so you can try it first (ambiencr.com). Make an appointment
now! It is even safe for breastfeeding. My life is so much
better now. Good luck!
First of all, I am sorry you are going through this. I struggled with
postpartum anxiety after my daughter was born 2.5 years ago and it was
the hardest thing I had ever faced. I didn't sleep at all for 5
nights straight immediately following the birth of my daughter. It
was terrifying and I had many of the symptoms you mentioned as well as
tingling in my arms, legs and hands and a feeling of adrenaline
pumping through my veins. After not sleeping for 5 nights and feeling
desperate, my husband took me to the ER where I was prescribed Ativan.
I was told not to breastfeed while taking it (and my milk never really
came in because of the anxiety and lack of sleep) and I was really
struggling to try to breastfeed but wasn't functioning so realized
that I needed to use formula and take care of myself.
Fortunately, the Ativan worked for me and I started sleeping and went
to see a psychiatrist (at Kaiser Oakland) the next day who was great
and diagnosed me with postpartum anxiety and prescribed Celexa which
is an anti-depressant and good for anxiety. Within a month my
sleeping was back to normal, my symptoms were gone and I was
functioning and caring for my daughter. It was a very scary time and
without professional help I wouldn't have recovered so quickly--or at
You need to seek out a psychiatrist--one who specializes in
women's/reproductive psychiatry would be ideal. There are meds that
are safe for breastfeeding--both antidepressants and sleeping meds--
so don't let that be a reason not to seek help. Your baby needs a
healthy, functioning Mama and you won't be if you do not get help.
You may also want to seek out a cognitive behavioral therapist who can
help you with your anxiety/fears. CBT helps people to think
differently and challenge their worry thoughts which leads to less
anxiety/fear. It is best used in conjunction with anti-anxiety meds
for moderate to severe cases. I am a social worker and have done alot
of research on the topic of anxiety since struggling with it myself.
I wish you the best and hope that you get the help you need as soon as
You, your baby and partner deserve for you to be well.
Throughout my adult life, I have experienced occasional
insomnia. But since my son was born, 15 mos ago, I have really
struggled with it. I have had all types on insomnia: sleep
onset, waking up in the middle of the night and early rising. I
had pretty bad postpartum depression/anxiety was started on an
anti-depressant. This did the trick for a while and I began to
sleep better. After a couple of months though , the insomnia
returned. It seems to cycle this way. I sleep great for six or
eight weeks and then I sleep terribly again. During these times,
I rely heavily on Ambien prescribed by my psychiatrist. It works
great to put me to sleep but it also gives me bizarre and scary
thoughts plus I get depressed after a night or two. I am looking
for advice from insomniacs who have been able to overcome it. I
feel I need a full nights sleep or I really cannot function. I
have tried exercise, calicum, & behavior modification. I kicked
my husband out of bed months ago (he even respinds to our kids
at night!). I go to sleep at the same time every night. I have
good sleep hygeine (sleep with a fan on, earplugs in). I do not
drink or eat before bed. I had a check up and my thyroid was
fine. I am looking for a permanent solution to this. I do not
want to lay awake at night fretting about not sleeping anymore.
I do not want to rely on drugs anymore. Does anyone have any
suggestions?? I'll read, spend money, see specialists, stand on
my head if I have to. I just want to be a normal sleeper again.
Poor Sleeper Who Loves Sleep
I just wanted to sympathize and say I am in a similar boat. I,
too, go through these cycles of insomnia. I'll be fine for 4-5
weeks, then bad for one. I do most of the ''right'' things as
well: earplugs, dinner at 6:30, etc. Sometimes, when I get
desperate and don't want to pop another pill, I just commit to
lightening up on the food that night, e.g., eating a snacky
small thing (if I'm not hungry that evening, of course). It's
amazing how effectively the low energy puts you out. Anyway,
the insomniac cycle I just chalk up to my age, which is late
Firstly, I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv. I did
however, spend some time last weekend with my friend who's
getting married in 17 days and she had been taking melatonin
(non-narcotic, over the counter supplement) to help her sleep.
She was having difficulty sleeping because of wedding stress,
and to prevent the bridezilla from emerging, it was imperative
for her to get good sleep. She took it before to help with jet
lag when she traveled to Europe and had no side effects, so
she's taking it again to help with her insomnia. She doesn't
take a whole pill, she takes about a quarter of a pill and that
seems to do the trick for her. Please check with your doctor
or pharmacist before taking this supplement even though it's
non prescriptive. Good luck.
I have similar sleep issues. Here is what helps me. Cut out all
caffine - This can be
hard I found that even a cup of coffee in the morning can affect how I
sleep that night.
I have also just learned that if I wake up in the middle of the night if
I am awake for
more than 5 minute I start to read rather than just laying there. If I
lay there I will be
there for hours and and still need to read to go back to sleep. So I
just start reading
right away and can usually go back to sleep within an hour. Good luck.
Gee I can relate. I've had insomnia all my life. When I was on
anti-depressants a few years ago, I fell asleep every night.
Unfortunately, the anti-depressants had too many side effects to
justify continue taking them so I went off them and the insomnia
I've learned to live with my insomnia by talking about what
causes it in therapy. That helps sometimes. When it's late at
night and I have unpleasant emotions by knowing what they are
from therapy and doing some deep breathing, it's easier for me to
My best advice is not to stay in bed when you can't fall asleep.
Get up and watch some tv or read until you feel sleepy even if
it's five minutes before you have to get up. I have gone to work
many times without sleeping at all. It's a miserable day but at
least the following night I fall asleep pretty easily. One thing
I've learned is not to take naps during the day when I can't
sleep. That way I maintain a somewhat regular cycle.
Knows what it's like
I feel your pain. I have struggled with insomnia on and off
since childhood. I had a lot of trouble sleeping after my first
child was born and fretted about it horribly. It sounds as
though you are doing all of the right things (I assume
eliminating caffeine too?). Have you considered contacting
Stanford's sleep center? They are supposedly really great and
comprehensive. Might be worth a try. I know that's not so
helpful, but you do seem pretty on top of all of the regular
interventions. I know for me, going to bed at the same time
every night made a HUGE difference.
Anyway good luck.
Bad sleeper too
Has anyone had problems returning to a normal sleep schedule
post- post-partum? It's 5 AM and I've been up since 3 for the
third time this week -- it seems that now my daughter's sleeping
for longer stretches, I am incapable of getting the good night's
sleep I so desperately need. I wake up at the least little noise
(mom-dar) and that's it. I'm awake. My brain isn't racing, I just
can't fall back asleep. I get regular exercise (a 4 mile
round-trip walk (half of it uphill), or a soccer game, or
swimming), I don't drink caffeine, I don't eat preservatives
because they make my girl gassy, I drink plenty of water. It
seems that there might be a metabolic component -- I'm often
overheated or hungry when I finally figure out how to fix the
problem. This is making me crazy -- I'm either so tired that I'm
a total zombie and don't feel safe doing things like driving, or
worse, I'm tired enough to be really emotionally unstable. My
poor husband. Any advice or understanding of the source of this
sleepy, grumpy, and dopey
I could have written your post when my boy was five months old,
too! Perhaps it's part of the process, that after waking in
order to take care of an infant, the body gets wired to be awake.
And I know how frustrating it is to lie awake while everyone
else is sleeping, and how dreadful it is to be so tired all the
time. Yes, this too shall pass. It doesn't help much to hear
that, but it's true. In a few months you will learn how to sleep
longer and deeper. (tho, and I hate to say it, I have never
slept as soundly after children as I did before children). For
the time being, perhaps you could learn some yoga techniques or
other relaxation techniques to practice when you wake. I also
found help with homeopathy. And one big thing: try not to focus
on the frustation of being awake! There's nothing worse for an
insomniac! For me, that was the one sure-fire was to keep me
awake. Perhaps you could try to reassure yourself, ''I am not
sleeping now, but I will be soon.'' I still use that reassurance
when I can't sleep, and it still helps. You are not sleeping
well now, but you will be soon.
Like the previous respondent, I hope that your sleep normalizes
soon. That being said, in my case, it did not. Insomnia is NOT to
be taken lightly. Yes, yoga can help. Herbs can help. In my case,
they did not. In hindsight, I should have sought out help sooner.
Yes, the fact that the baby was waking a ton helped the insomnia
develop, but there were other factors. Not to jump to
conclusions, but insomnia is a key symptom of postpartum
depression and/or postpartum anxiety. Just be sure not to ignore
that possibility. It never hurts to see a psychologist or
psychiatrist just to take care of yourself. Good luck
I saw your message and just had to respond. For me, insomnia
was the first sign of post-partum depression/anxiety after the
births of each of my two children. After my first child, it hit
when she was 4.5 months old, whereas after my second child, it
hit at 3.5 months and was much more severe. Like you describe,
I became unable to sleep after being woken, sensitive to the
tiniest noise. It was as if I was shot through with adrenaline
at the tiniest disturbance, including the phone, baby crying,
just anything. Insomnia was horrible for me, by far the most
disturbing symptom of what turned into generalized anxiety and
depression. For me, I tried all kinds of yoga and walking and
herbs and acupuncture, but nothing really worked until I started
taking a low dose of anti-depressant. The first time around
Paxil helped. It was nearly immediate, like a light-switch went
on in my head. The next time around, unfortunately, Paxil made
me worse and it took a while to find a drug that did the trick
(I ended up with Remeron for the sleep/anxiety, plus a little
Zoloft). I guess what I'm saying is that you should probably
get checked out by a doctor, preferrably a psychiatrist, and if
like me other things don't work to restore you to normal, try to
be open to drugs. Otherwise it's hard to enjoy your baby, or
anything else in your life. Yes, it might mean stopping nursing
or worrying about your milk, but it's hard to say which is worse
for a baby - a depressed anxious mother or formula/slightly
drugged breast milk.
Formerly Sleepless In Berkeley
Ever since my son was born almost three years ago I've had sleep
issues -- anxiety, I think, about not being about to fall back
to sleep, being exhausted the next day, etc (my son is a very
early riser, and most days I'm up around 5:30 am). It takes me
about an hour or more to get back to sleep when I'm awakened at
night. Now that I'm expecting another baby I'm getting really
worried. My son goes to preschool now so I can catch up on
missed sleep during the day, but with a new baby I won't have
this luxury. I tried to learn self-hypnosis for sleep a couple
of years ago, but it didn't help enough. Now I'm wondering if
anyone has a suggestion for some kind of relaxation tape I could
listen to in the middle of the night, which would help me learn
to fall back to sleep more easily. Perhaps something that I
listen to a few times and then hopefully internalize. I'm just
dreading how tired I'm going to be if I can't return to sleep
easily after those every-three-hours nighttime feedings...Any
suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
I can relate to your sleep anxiety, as I have suffered terrible
insomnia post-partum. My son's over a year old, and my sleep
has improved a lot, but there is always anxiety, and some
nights are really rough. Some years down the road, we'd like to
have another baby, but my biggest fear is around the sleep, so
I can imagine your worry. As for relaxation music/ sounds, I
burned a couple of cd's from my acupuncturist. They are
basically Chinese music with some mellowing elements (but not
too new-agey). I won't say they are a panacea, but they have
been really soothing. I use one of them all the time to help my
son fall asleep. Let me know if you'd like more info on them or
want to burn them!
I also had the same problem - I could fall asleep but could not
stay asleep. Here are the things that really helped me:
1. Thinking about the last dream that I had. Or even a dream
that I had a few days before. It put my mind back into that
2. Counting backwards from 100 in 3's.
The anxiety about not sleeping really added to the insomnia. If
you can find a way to give up on stressing on that issue, I'm
sure it will help.
There is a very good web page called Talk About Sleep. They have
many books and CDs on insomnia and relation tapes and I can often
find information there that is different than the standards. ( A
very std thing that helped me also was to get the clock out of
the room or turn it around so you can't see it.)
Hope this helps.
Any certified clinical hypnotherapist can make tapes that are
specifically for you. I recommend Dr. Francis Dreher. He is
excellent. He is in Kensington at Colusa Circle. 528 3738.
Ever since the birth of my baby 13 months ago, I've experienced
very poor sleep - I have insomnia, hold my breath during periods
of the night, and wake up often (my daughter is sleeping through
the night so she is not the source of the problem). I am
looking for recommendations for treatment from people who have
had success treating similar sleep disorders and now can sleep
deeply and restfully. I am open to acupuncture, homeopathy -
etc. Any recommendations would be appreciated!
sleepless in berkeley
I highly recommend yoga to help with sleeplessness. I too have
had my sleep disrupted on and off for almost two years by a
wonderful daughter with recurring sleep issues, but I always sleep
really deeply after a good yoga class.
Dear sleepless Mom: I have had acute insomnia and now chronic
sleep problems for the last 3 years, since my 3.5 years old was
4 months old. Over the years, after trying about 50 different
approaches to deal with my sleep disorder, it has improved to a
manageable level (about 5-6 hours of sleep a night). I was even
able to get a second child, and survived it! I feel that there
is not one cause to my insomnia, nor is there one solution to
the problem...In addition to sleeping pills that help me fall
asleep on most nights, I have tried (or am trying) meditation,
stress management, massages, accupuncture, homeopathy, and
therapy...they all have contributed to incremental improvements,
but none have proved to be a magic bullet (including the
sleeping pills who often don't help either!). There are lots of
good ressources in the East bay, some of which I have tried...
I had this problem when my son was younger, too. It was
terrible! He finally started sleeing through the night, but the
slightest noise would wake me up and I'd stay up. After
many weeks of exhaustion, I found a few things that helped.
Perhaps the greatest help was to rearrange the house,
so that our bedroom was closer to the baby's bedroom.
The physical proximity did wonders to relieve a sort of low-
level anxiety that contributed to my sleeplessness. Being
closer meant I wasn't constantly on alert, straining to hear
what was happening in his room. We did not go for family
bed, because we found that none of us--especially the
baby--slept well that way. However other parents might
recommend that you try it, and you might as well see if it
Some other things that helped me were vigorous but
relaxing exercise during the day (in other words, exercise
that isn't just pushing the stroller), acupuncture, yoga and
breathing exercises targeted to help with sleep, and
occasionally using Hyland's brand homeopathic sleep aids,
Calms Forte or Insomnia. The main thing that helped,
however, was time. When my son was was around 15-16
months old, I realized I was sleeping better.
I hope this helps. Sweet dreams.
I had trouble sleeping for months after my baby began sleeping
through the night. I found accupuncture helped for a few days
following treatment. After months of sleeplessness my doctor
finally recommended a short round of Paxil at a low dose. I was
still nursing and so hesitant, but finally tried it as we began
the weaning process and my sleep was restored. I stopped after 3
months and remained able to sleep well.
I had insomnia for about 1.5 years after my son was born. I woke
up at the slightest sound and woke up every two to three hours
and would take up to two hours to get back to sleep. I used to
sleep like a rock before the birth but since, my body and mind
were deteriorating. My stubborness about not taking made
me suffer longer than necessary, I believe. My husband, who
teaches medicine, studied the literature on insomnia for a talk
he was giving at his hospital for Residents and Staff
Physicians. He informed me that my insomnia was very dangerous
and that continuation of insomnia for years could permanently
damage my body in many ways according to the literature. I went
to one of his talks on insomnia which convinced me that I had to
quickly take action. I fear becoming dependent on any or
masking my physical ailments with . He suggested I take
Benedryl which has very little side effects for most people. A
more ''natural'' od I heard of was to take Valerian tablets.
I've recently have been studying herbal remedies and most of the
books out there have the same or overlapping suggestions for a
particular ailment. My sister said Benedryl made her feel ''out
of it'' the next day. My insomina was remedied after about two
months of taking benedryl and wearing ear plugs. I now only wear
earplugs to sleep and need no medications. The literature says
to stay on the healthy sleep pattern for several months before
tapering off. Your body needs to set the new pattern. If I had
to do it over again, I'd try the ear plugs first, then add the
herbal remedies if that didn't work. Lastly, I'd try the
benedryl and other prescription . But don't take too long
to make a plan about insomnia; apparently there are some women
who after childbirth never resolve insomnia and their body/mind
become chronically ill. Best wishes for regaining your health
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