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Tired Mothers – Is Sleep the Problem or is it Something Else?

Tired Mothers – Is Sleep the Problem or is it Something Else?

Empowering women to talk about their concerns and struggles is an important message that International Women’s Day promotes. One particular problem that women face is experiencing sleep difficulties after childbirth. New mothers often feel like they do not get enough sleep. Given that symptoms of sleep deprivation and postnatal depression can be similar, some mothers find it difficult to determine if what they are feeling is normal sleep deprivation or postnatal depression.

Mothers experiencing chronic sleep deprivation may report sleepiness, fatigue, and mood symptoms such as irritability. However, women with postnatal depression can also experience similar fatigue and mood symptoms in addition to difficulties with sleep, poor sleep quality and insomnia. They may also feel disconnected from their child, sad, unhappy, helpless and low a lot of the time. Although it is common to sometimes feel a bit sad or have the baby blues after giving birth, these feelings usually do not persist.

Women experiencing symptoms of postnatal depression generally notice the onset of symptoms about 1-2 months following childbirth or several months before the birth. It is important to recognise that anyone can develop postnatal depression.

If your symptoms are persisting or you think that you or someone you know may have postnatal depression, the team at YoungMinds can offer support and psychotherapy which studies have shown can help women overcome postnatal depression.

Although it may be tough to find time for yourself with a newborn, it is important to remember to practice self-care techniques. This can include meditation, exercise, resting, speaking to someone about your feelings and what you are going through and doing activities that you enjoy.


  • Armstong, K. L., Van Haeringen A. R., Dadds, M. R., & Cash, R. (1998). Sleep deprivation or postnatal depression in later infancy: Separating the chicken from the egg. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 34(3), 260-262.
  • Dorheim, S. K., Bondevik, G. T., Eberhard-Gran, M., & Bjorvatn, B. (2009). Sleep and depression in postpartum women: A population-based study. Sleep, 32(7), 847-855.
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