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Insomnia in Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety

I spoke last week about my experience of heart palpitations after giving birth. This week I’m going to talk about another symptom that is often asked about in the postpartum community. Around the same time as the heart palpitations experience, I also experienced a period of sleeplessness. I honestly don’t remember how long it lasted, but I think I went for at least a week without a minute of sleep. I was beyond terrified.

Even though I knew friends who had gone through something similar and even though I was still able to function just fine, my mind was spinning with thought, and I was immersed in my thinking. There was a list of terrifying stories that was about a mile long. Surely I was going to lose my mind like my family member who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Surely there was something really wrong with my body. Surely there was some sort of vitamin deficiency. Surely there was an alternative health practitioner who had the key to sleep that I HAD to find in order to feel better. The stories went on and on.

You know the other thing that didn’t help in addition to my thinking? All of the current advice (that I found) for insomnia told me that my ability to sleep 100% depended on what I did. I even paid a lot of money to see a CBT therapist who specializes in insomnia. She gave me a long list of do’s and don’ts and had me start logging all of my behavior related to sleep as well as my waking and sleep times. So in addition to all of my thinking about how broken I was, I started thinking that all of my little actions could make or break my ability to sleep. Talk about misery!

I took supplements. I saw naturopaths. I even managed to stay awake all night on Unisom.

I wish someone had just told me that I was ok, that it would pass, and to just do what felt good – to nap if I wanted or to not nap if I didn’t, to do acupuncture if I liked it, to do nothing if it felt right. It’s possible that someone did, and that I was just too immersed in my thinking to hear it. The wonderful thing is that now I am here, and I can tell you. 

You are just fine. It will pass. Your body still knows how to sleep just like it always has. Just do what feels good. There is something much bigger than your experience of insomnia that has held countless other sleepless individuals and is holding you too.

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