What are sleep problems?
Having a good night’s sleep is very important for our health. Having a baby temporarily disturbs sleep because in the early months babies need to be fed during the day and at night. During this time it is important for new parents to develop different sleep patterns in order to catch up on lost sleep.
Sleep problems are very common in people who have mental health problems. Not having enough sleep can make it difficult to function well and can slow down recovery. So in addition to the normal sleep disturbance experienced by all new parents you may also have problems getting to sleep, staying asleep, waking up too early or have poor quality sleep.
What causes sleep problems?
There could be different reasons for your sleep problem. These may include:
- Needing to care for your baby
- Some medicines
- A loss or bereavement
- Stress and worry
- Low mood
- Noisy surroundings
- Normal effects of ageing
- Medical problems such as needing to go to the toilet
Examples of how it might affect you
Feelings: Low in mood, Upset, Anxious, Hopeless, Irritable, Lethargic
Thoughts: If I do not sleep I will be tired, I can not sleep, I am going mad, I am a burden on others, I can not be bothered
Behaviours: Not doing much, Staying in bed, Avoiding going out, Neglecting personal, hygiene
Beliefs: I can’t do anything, I am worthless, I can’t cope, Nobody cares about me
Bodily reaction: Tiredness, Tension, Waking up early, Difficulty in concentrating, Loss of energy
Relationships: Avoiding people, Getting into arguments, Isolating self from others
What can help?
Here are some suggestions that may help.
- Have a routine about going to bed
- Create a regular routine for your baby around bed time
- Make your bedroom warm and comfortable
- Take a warm bath or shower before going to bed, as this will relax you
- Eat at least two hours before going to bed
- Take regular exercise as this will help you get healthily tired
- Avoid caffeine, for example tea or coffee. Decaf tea or coffee is ok
- Avoid watching TV in bed, as it will prevent you from calming down
- Avoid alcohol or street drugs
- Avoid smoking close to bedtime
- Avoid using your bed for other things other than sleep
- Do not worry about getting enough sleep as this will keep you awake
- If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do something that relaxes you
- If you are worried about other things at bedtime try to deal with them during the day
- Don’t go to bed until you feel sleepy
- Take medication for some short term help
These suggestions have helped some people with their sleep problem. You would need to try and try again and again as it takes time to change some habits.
IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS PLEASE CONTACT YOUR GP, HEALTH VISITOR OR OTHER HEALTH PROFESSIONAL WHO WILL BE ABLE TO GIVE YOU FURTHER ADVICE.