Every expectant mother plans on spending at least a few weeks of relatively sleepless nights after her baby is born. It’s surprising, in some ways, just how quickly a new mom will adjust to the new sleep schedule. On the other hand, even once your baby is sleeping through the night and on a regular sleep pattern, you might find that you’re still having difficulty maintaining a consistent sleep schedule.
What can happen is that your internal clock gets a sort of “reset” during those first few weeks after your baby is born. You find that your body is no longer following those same old sleep habits that you may have had for years.
One of the possible contributing factors to this phenomenon is hormone changes. Hormones affect your sleep dramatically. During the postpartum period, two particular body chemicals, Vasopressin and oxytocin, are both produced in high volumes. (Incidentally, they’re high in your baby, too, which helps to make sure that the two of you are in sync.)
Even after breastfeeding is over and your period returns, you can experience hormone fluctuations that can really mess with your sleep.
There are some pretty significant side effects of not getting enough sleep, as well. You need to get enough sleep each night to maintain your optimal health, safety and even emotional stability. Lack of sleep can decrease your metabolism, which leads to weight gain. Lack of sleep can be a contributing factor in developing diabetes. It can cause trouble in your relationships, your job and your overall health, as well.
Getting back into a regular sleep schedule can be a challenge. There are some things you should do, however, that will help you get to sleep again:
- Stick to a regular schedule, including a regular bedtime.
- Stay away from foods that are high in caffeine, salt and sugar.
- Get a moderate amount of exercise at least three days a week.
- Eat a small snack just before bed to avoid being woken by hunger.
- Keep a sleep environment conducive to sleep, including keeping your room comfortable, dark and quiet.