Insomnia, Postpartum Depression.
It is 3 a.m., your baby is asleep soundly in your bed and you… are wide awake. Insomnia is a very common symptom of postpartum depression. If you begin to get insomnia during the third trimester, or while pregnant, please take extra care to observe within yourself your moods and remain aware that your body’s hormonal happy dance may be signaling that you are vulnerable to a postpartum depression, or it may simply be a bout of insomnia.
What is Insomnia?
The persistent inability to go to sleep or the inability to stay asleep… I am writing this at 4 am, so I understand. If you have it, you know it is awful. My advice as a fellow insomniac: embrace the opportunity for alone time. My advice as a therapist, develop sleep hygiene.
What is sleep hygiene?
Sleep hygiene are simple practices, that most of us do not always have the energy for, that will allow for a higher quality of sleep. In accordance to the National Sleep Foundation, the following practices are recommended:
- Limiting daytime naps to 30 minutes .
- Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime.
- Exercising to promote good quality sleep.
- Steering clear of food that can be disruptive right before sleep.
- Ensuring adequate exposure to natural light.
The other trick to getting and staying to sleep is guided meditation.
One of my favorites is the 13 minute guided meditation by UCLA titled: Body Scan for Sleep. It begins likes this
“This is a guided body scan meditation to help you prepare for sleep As you do the meditation you may find yourself drifting off to sleep This is fine So you can allow the meditation to turn off on its own If you notice thoughts such as worries or concerns arising that take your attention away from the meditation This is also normal See if you can redirect your attention Back to the body scan Gently letting go of these thoughts, if it’s possible…”
Reading it just made me fall asleep! (Just joking.) But this one does work. Insomnia and postpartum depression are common. You can also simply have insomnia because it is your only time to be alone with your thoughts. This is okay too. You are allowed to enjoy this alone time.
I have patches of insomnia, and I’m fascinated by the otherness of the world at night. The stillness. Daytime preoccupations fall away, standards change, thoughts change. It’s a canvas for reinvention, I think.