The phenomenon referred to as “momsomnia” is real, and it can sometimes be unbearable. Knowing you have no reason for being awake at 3:30 am, yet your unable to drift into sleep, is something many new mothers are familiar with.
While this frustrating “condition” is very common, it's also pretty easy to fix! Before we give you some advice, let’s explain why this it’s happening in the first place.
What is Momsomnia?
“Momsomnia” is a clever term used to describe new mom insomnia. If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably aware expecting mothers struggle with sleep. You also understand that your baby is going to dictate your sleep cycle for a while. But, you may not have known that even while your child sleeps soundly through the night, you may still law awake for no apparent reason.
What Causes Momsomnia?
There are a number of things that can cause momsomnia, but they mostly boil down to habit and mindset. Early on in your pregnancy, you will become well accustomed to waking up throughout the night. Whether it be from your baby’s activity, or your frequent urination, your body gets used to constant waking. Here are some of the most common reasons you can’t sleep as a new mother:
- You think you just heard the baby cry
- You’re hesitant to sleep because as soon as you drift away, you think the baby will need you
- You become anxious thinking your baby is sick or not breathing, and feel you should go check
- Your hormones are off, causing your body to sweat much more than you’re used to
- The lack of sleep causes you to become frustrated, lowering any chance you had of falling asleep
- You take naps during the day or early evening, which keeps you up at night
- Your breasts are engorged with milk, and the tenderness/pain keeps you up
Most of the time, momsomnia is caused by repetition. After months of waking up to a crying infant, you become “on edge” whenever you’re in bed.
Essentially, you are waiting to be woken up. You expect it. And because of this, you never really reach that deep sleep where our body restores itself. Momsomnia can build a vicious cycle, and unless you take serious steps to correct it, it will continue to affect you.
How to Cure Momsomnia
Curing momsomnia is as simple as restoring the positive sleep habits you had prior to pregnancy. There are a few ways to do this, but it is important to remain consistent in whatever regimen you establish. After all, consistency compounds, and getting in the habit of prioritizing your sleep will just result in better and better rest!
Work on Controlling Your Thoughts
While it may sound impossible as you lie awake in frustration, learning how to shut your mind off at will is a valuable skill.
Sure, you’re worried about your baby. This is completely understandable. But, causing yourself unnecessary anxiety is just unhealthy. You can try yoga, meditation, or whatever else you need - just learn how to shut down your brain when it's time for bed.
Try Using Calm Background Noise and Scents
Downloading an app on your phone that plays peaceful sounds to help you sleep can be a gamechanger. Any white noise at all, for that matter, will occupy your thoughts and help you fall asleep. This will assist you with our first recommendation, shutting down your mind.
Keep TV, Laptops, and Phones Out of the Bed
Plenty of people use their beds for more than just sleeping - whether its to watch TV, do some work, or browse their social media feed. Studies have shown that doing these types of activities on a regular basis, particularly at night before bed, can have detrimental effects on your sleep.
Because of this, limit any screens in your bed, especially at night time. The blue light from the screens can interfere with your sleep hormones.
Limit Caffeine Throughout the Day
There is nothing wrong with a cup of coffee in the morning, but going back to the pot throughout the morning and into the afternoon is a bad idea. While you may not feel like the caffeine you had at 3pm is the reason you can’t sleep, it very well could be. Caffeine stays in your blood stream much longer than you can actively feel it.
Be as Active as Possible During the Day
Pushing yourself towards exhaustion on a daily basis isn’t necessarily a healthy habit to develop either, but making an effort to exercise and use energy throughout the day can go a long way. Take a yoga class, go for a walk with baby, whatever you want - just be active!
No More Long Naps
A quick 10-15 minute power nap can have profound benefits on your energy levels. However, long naps will hinder your night time sleep. It may be a vicious cycle (the less you sleep at night, the more you want to sleep during the day), but you need to try and sleep only at bedtime.
Momsomnia can feel overwhelming at times, but the vast majority of the time it is all in your head. Coming to the realization that your newborn doesn’t need your attention every waking minute is certainly not easy, but it is necessary.
Learn to control your thoughts, and develop a consistent routine to help you get some much needed rest so you can be supermom throughout the day!