Postpartum Insomnia: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Congratulations on welcoming your little bundle of joy into the world! As a new mother, you may be experiencing a mix of emotions, from overwhelming joy to occasional frustration and exhaustion. One common challenge that many new mothers face is postpartum insomnia. In this article, we will explore the normalcy of experiencing insomnia after childbirth, the potential causes, the common symptoms, and the possible treatment methods associated with postpartum insomnia.

postpartum insomnia symptoms

In This Article:

Is It Normal To Have Insomnia After Childbirth?

It is entirely normal for new mothers to experience bouts of insomnia following childbirth. The immediate postpartum period is filled with physical and emotional adjustments, which can significantly impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Factors such as hormonal changes, discomfort from postpartum recovery, and the demands of caring for a newborn can contribute to disrupted sleep patterns.

What Causes Postpartum Insomnia?

Several factors can contribute to postpartum insomnia, including:


Hormonal fluctuations:

Your body undergoes significant hormonal changes during and after pregnancy. These fluctuations can affect your sleep-wake cycle, making it challenging to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Physical Discomfort:

Postpartum recovery can be accompanied by physical discomfort, such as soreness, perineal pain, and breastfeeding challenges, all of which can make it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position.

Stress and Anxiety:

Caring for a newborn, adjusting to motherhood, and coping with changes in your daily routine can lead to increased stress and anxiety, which may manifest as difficulty falling asleep or racing thoughts during the night.

Unpredictable Sleeping Patterns of the Newborn:

The erratic sleep schedule of a newborn, including frequent feedings and waking during the night, can disrupt the mother’s sleep patterns and contribute to postpartum insomnia.

Symptoms Of Postpartum Insomnia

Difficulty Falling Asleep:

Many women experience the inability to fall asleep easily, even when they are physically exhausted, due to racing thoughts and restlessness.

Waking Frequently During the Night:

New mothers may find themselves waking up multiple times during the night, making it challenging to achieve restorative sleep.


Persistent Fatigue:

Despite spending hours in bed, women suffering from postpartum insomnia often wake up feeling exhausted and unrefreshed, impacting their ability to function during the day.

Mood Swings and Irritability:

Sleep deprivation can exacerbate mood swings and irritability, making it harder for new mothers to cope with the demands of caring for a newborn.

Is Insomnia Linked To Postpartum Depression And Anxiety?

Postpartum insomnia, characterised by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep despite having the opportunity to do so, is often linked to postpartum depression and anxiety. The hormonal changes, stress, and physical discomfort associated with childbirth and caring for a newborn can all contribute to sleep disturbances. Sleep deprivation can exacerbate feelings of sadness, anxiety, and irritability, which are common symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety. Furthermore, insufficient sleep can make it more challenging for new mothers to cope with the demands of caring for a newborn, potentially worsening their mental health.

Research has shown that there is a strong correlation between postpartum insomnia and the risk of developing postpartum depression and anxiety. Therefore, addressing sleep difficulties during the postpartum period is crucial for not only improving a new mother’s overall well-being but also for reducing the risk of mental health conditions.

What Is the Treatment for Postpartum Insomnia?

Sleep Hygiene Practices

Encouraging good sleep hygiene practices is essential for managing postpartum insomnia. This includes maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and establishing a comfortable sleep environment. Avoiding stimulating activities and electronic devices before bedtime can also contribute to better sleep quality.

Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT, a structured form of psychotherapy, has been found to be effective in treating insomnia. It focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to sleep difficulties. CBT can help new mothers develop healthier sleep habits and alleviate anxiety related to sleep.


Relaxation Techniques

Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce stress and promote better sleep. These techniques can be particularly beneficial for calming the mind and body before bedtime, allowing new mothers to unwind and fall asleep more easily.


In some cases, healthcare providers may prescribe sleep aids or other medications to address severe postpartum insomnia. However, medication should be used cautiously during the postpartum period, taking into consideration the potential impact on breastfeeding and the baby’s well-being.

Are There Ways To Prevent Postpartum Insomnia?

Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule:

As challenging as it may be with a newborn, try to establish a predictable sleep routine. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same times each day, even if sleep is disrupted during the night.

Limit Stimulants and Screen Time:

Avoiding caffeine, heavy meals, and screen time close to bedtime can help regulate your body’s internal clock and promote better sleep quality.

Delegate Responsibilities:

It’s essential to recognise that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Enlist the support of family members, friends, or hired help to manage daily tasks, allowing you to prioritise rest.

Seek Professional Help:

If postpartum insomnia persists, seek guidance from a healthcare professional. They can provide valuable advice and treatment options tailored to your specific needs. 



Postpartum insomnia can take a toll on physical and emotional well-being, making the already challenging period of early motherhood even more difficult. By understanding the causes, symptoms, treatments, and preventive measures of postpartum insomnia, pregnant women can better prepare for the postpartum period. Implementing strategies to prevent and address postpartum insomnia can contribute to a healthier and more enjoyable postpartum experience for both the mother and the newborn.