Reasons Motherhood Keeps Me Up At Night

Abbey Williams

Insomnia in motherhood is not a new thing. There are many studies which link insomnia to pregnancy and the postpartum period as a common symptom. However, once mothers are out of the baby stage are they back to sleeping?

For many mothers, the answer is no.

The causes and reasons for sleep deprivation throughout motherhood changes, but the issue of mom getting a lack of sleep remains.

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Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

So what are some reasons moms are having a hard time sleeping?

Pregnancy

Throughout pregnancy, an expectant mother’s sleep is often disrupted. An increase in trips to the bathroom, inability to get comfortable, restless legs, reflux, cramps, and anxiety are just a few of the common issues expecting mothers can encounter that are preventing that from getting their much needed shut eye. It does not help that expectant mothers are constantly being fed messaging such as, “sleep now because you wont when the baby gets here!”

What to Expect reported that, “According to a 2016 study, a whopping 78 percent of women experience sleep problems at some point (or many points!) during pregnancy.”

Postpartum

According to the Sleep Foundation, “Sleep deprivation is an unavoidable part of being a new mother. The sudden shifts in hormone levels, accumulated fatigue from pregnancy, and round-the-clock demands of caring for a new baby can take their toll, and it’s common for mothers to experience a dip in energy and mood during the first few weeks after giving birth.”

New mothers are hit with night feedings, engorgement, sleep regressions, and more during the first year of baby’s life. Anxiety and intrusive thoughts can also increase during the nighttime hours for new mothers. If you are experiencing these issues be sure to consult your doctor.

The Sleep Foundation added, “Additionally, women undergo hormonal changes6 during the postpartum period. These include a decrease in the production of progesterone, a female sex hormone with sleep-inducing properties, and changes in levels of melatonin, which the body produces in the evening to promote sleepiness and relaxation. These adjustments can affect the woman’s circadian rhythm, which regulates not only sleep but also mood, appetite, and other bodily functions.”

Toddlerhood

Once mothers enter into toddlerhood the feelings of getting past the struggles of the baby stage feel so behind you. Your toddler has more independence now, maybe they aren’t breastfeeding anymore, and the hope for better sleep is here!

So why are you not getting more sleep now that you have hit the toddler stage?

Some nighttime struggles parents encounter during the toddler years are their toddler now being able to get out of their own bed and crawl into parents bed, fears of the dark or the night, and nightmares. Nighttime potty training can also be thrown into the mix.

Have you seen the memes of parents clinging to the edge of their bed while their toddler sleeps peacefully taking up the entire king sized bed? Yep, that’s a common struggle for many parents with toddlers.

The Dads Net gave some great suggestions in an article, “How to Cope With Sleep Deprivation for Parents of Toddlers,” which listed getting plenty of caffeine, exercise, eat better, drink more water, and get out of the house. You may be thinking what does this have to do with getting more quality sleep, and the truth is it may not, but it does help improve the mental well-being of mama who’s sleep deprivation is not helping.

School Age

Now my child is sleeping through the night. They no longer come into my bed in the late hours of the night. They are fully potty trained, the phase of being scared of the dark has passed and still I find myself laying in bed at night.

Now the mental load of motherhood keeps me awake. I worry about my child’s schooling, “how can I get them better help for reading?” “Should I get him in to the science club?” I worry about sports, peer interactions, and the endless list. It’s exhausting.

And these worries continue into the teen years as new challenges arise and new worries surrounding curfews, peer interactions, and peer pressures. Worrying about your teens physical well-being as well as their mental well-being, again, it’s enough to keep you up at night.

Ok, so motherhood keeps us up at night, but what can we do about it?

Sleep is important for mothers. Sleep is important for expecting mothers, new mothers, and mothers who are further along in their motherhood journey. Motherhood entails a great deal of stamina which sleep deprivation effects if we do not get out motherhood insomnia under control.

Some tips to improve sleep as recommended by The Sleep Foundation:

  • Rearrange your sleep schedule.
  • Share the workload.
  • Go for a morning walk.
  • Seek help if your sleep issues are related to: snoring, postpartum depression, persistent sleep issues, involuntary sleeping, or you are having reduced reaction times.

It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to support healthy sleep habits. Things such as exercising, eating well, drinking plenty of water, and getting outdoors greatly impact sleep. In addition, it is important to create boundaries surrounding your bedtime routine and set yourself up for a restful night of sleep. This can be achieved by not bringing your phone to bed. A good idea could be to put your phone in another room entirely. Electronics such as your phone and the television have been shown to negatively impact one’s quality of sleep. Other important factors are to monitor your caffeine and alcohol consumption especially before bedtime. Both caffeine and alcohol are linked to poor sleep quality. Lastly, turn down the heat and turn down the lights. Making the room cooler during sleeping hours and making the room darker can help aide in better sleep.

Sleep deprivation throughout parenthood is common, but it does not have to be your normal. You deserve quality sleep. You thrive when you are rested. So grab your sleepy tea, turn off the phone; practice your breathing, and goodnight mama!

Here’s to more refreshed mornings and breaking the sleep deprivation cycle early in the parenting game!

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Abbey Williams is the producer and host of the Mimosas with Moms Podcast, content creator of the social media platforms @mimosaswithmoms, and mother of 4. She is committed to supporting, empowering, and connecting with mothers in all seasons of motherhood. She navigates her blended family/coparenting life with her husband, four kids, and two sister labs.

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