Stress and sleep deprivation

Hi All,

I had a small blip last weekend and thought I would share it with everyone here. Some stress at work kept my mind ticking over Friday night so no sleep and I hadn’t slept brilliantly the night previously either.

Sleep deprivation was a big part of my PPP and also occurred the first time I came off anti- Psychotics as one of the side effects is insomnia. It is incredibly scary, makes me feel awful and often is cyclic, the less sleep I have the harder it is to fall asleep and stay asleep and really worry it will make me psychotic again.

The next day I was extremely tired and the following night I was so worried about not sleeping that I barely slept then. Unfortunately as this was occurring over the weekend I couldn’t see my normal doctor.

By Sunday because of my history I knew this was serious and it was giving me lots of anxiety - I was using lots of self help methods to keep things under control, exercise, yoga, relaxation and breathing methods but wanted to see my doctor who knew my history so chose to wait until the next day to see someone. I had about 2 half hours sleep Sunday night and went to my doctor. She gave me a small dose of Valium and told me to stay off work for next two weeks.

Thankfully Since then I have been being getting 8/9hrs a night and finding yoga incredibly helpful at relaxing me and managing any remaining anxiety.

My family are hugely supportive and Work are incredibly understanding and that is a great help so now I actually feel so much better, but I was surprised at how quickly the sleep deprivation took hold.

Does anyone else on here suffer with insomnia? I find it so scary when I do because of how it was a huge factor with PPP for me.

I am so pleased that I am really getting over it now , but it reminds me we really do need to take time out for ourselves - I had forgotten how much exercise and yoga de-stress me, but with a toddler in toe it’s one of those things that never gets done so I am going to work on making time in the day to do it.

11 Replies

  • Hello Helen your reply did strike a note with me .. sleep deprivation is such a significant aspect of our mental health .. As anxiety increases of course it gets worse, even when we are very tired... If I can't sleep I read a very boring and heavy book after getting up and making a cup of tea ! Funnily enough its tough going and after while my brain just gives up and I can fall asleep again..(Ulysses' Odyssey!). I know Drs don't like giving out diazepam as its addictive but the odd one can break that awful cycle.. great that you got back your sleep pattern so well..and good luck with the yoga and exercise ! Denise

  • Yes, I have been reading about how to manage insomnia and one thing they say is if you haven’t fallen asleep after 20minutes to get up and do a relaxing activity! The doctor did discuss how addictive diazepam - we used it as a short term solution to help get sleep back on track - if it didn’t manage the anxiety or work I was going to start sertraline - thankfully it did the trick, but only with the Exercise and yoga I think. I have been weaning off it and will have only been on it for about a week and a half.

    Thanks for your reply, support on here is so good Xx

  • Hi Helen,

    I can completely relate to what you are talking about, in the summer I had escalating insomnia just as you have described and I took a month off work. The fear of becoming psychotic again just compounds the situation. I ended up going back on the anti-psychotics which helped me to sleep again- I also had vomiting and was really worried that I had developed a new and very unpleasant symptom of stress... until my wee boy vomited too and I've never been so relieved to see him be sick, strange to say! But it meant we both had a bug.

    Like you I find Yoga helpful, as well as keeping a CBT thought diary, but also am back on olanzapine and an anti-depressant as my mood dropped. For me, the situation gave me such a shock I came to the decision to leave my job as I felt aware that I couldn't control the demands made on me at work and i felt like it would always be a struggle.

    Is your line manager supportive? Have you been able to talk to them about your stress levels? I don't know about your work but mine there was a "stress action plan" that I would have completed with my line manager, if I hadn't handed in my notice! My work was relatively supportive but due to short-staffing I had a lot of demands made on me.

    It sounds like you've dealt with this situation really well, using your coping strategies with the safety net of some medication. Have you ever tried doing yoga with your toddler? I tried it a couple of times and he's mostly a distraction but sometimes you can involve them in some of the moves too, he must have been thinking, "what on earth is Mummy doing?!" J look forward to him being old enough to join in.

    Hope you continue to unwind with the rest of your time off work and that going back to work goes well.


  • Hazello I am so sorry you had such a tough time over the summer - I so understand that worry of becoming psychotic again, it was exactly my worry too -I know there are many other factors contributing to PP than just sleep deprivation, but once your mind has done it once it puts that fear there. Sending you a big hug.

    It must have been difficult to decide to leave your job, but our health is so much more important and it sounds like it was the right thing for you - great that you have taken steps to get you better again . My line manager is very supportive, I haven’t got back to work yet but I am confident that I will get the support I need to make sure my stress doesn’t get to that level again. There are stresses and worries in my life that I can’t control (well I can accept and manage but cannot stop) - work is one I can.

    Yoga with a toddler :) My daughter does try to join in with me - yesterday She did downward dog under me and this morning got on my matt doing her own poses :D. However I actually like to use yoga as ‘my time’ and completely focus on it - so mostly I do it during nap time or in the evening. Although the two days where I was completely sleep deprived playing simple games with her was one thing that kept my mind ‘still’. I am sure she could tell I wasn’t right as I got lots of hugs!!

    Thanks for your reply - will be thinking of you and hope your CBT diary yoga and medication work for you xx

  • That's lovely that you were able to play games with your daughter when you were exhausted and so sweet that she gave you lots of hugs, my boy gives hugs and says "Awww Cuggle" while he does it which is very endearing. They really keep us going, don't they!

    I'm really glad to hear you're confident you'll get support at work, it's so important for anyone but particularly when struggling. Sometimes at my work I felt like part of my problem was my social facade, I told people I was anxious but I think they all struggled to believe/ understand when they couldn't see that anxiety in my behaviour at work. It's really good that you recognise that there are some stresses you can't control and some you can- I hope that the ones that you can't control diminish.... although you're right you can work on your response to them.

    Hazello xx

  • Dear Helen,

    thank you for your thoughts. It is good to offer peer support.

    Insomnia has been part of my life since recovering from PPP.

    After recovery from illness my choice was focused on alternative therapy (meditation, yoga, painting, exercising/walking, group therapy). I honestly can say that from 2011 till mid 2016 my nights were filled with a lot of painting, often up to 3 acrylic papers/canvases simultaneously. I also have been exercising excessively, just to stop my mind from racing.

    However, my life is slowly improving or I just get more used to the way I am...the revelation of progressing a new identity after PPP and being able to tune in or switch off (thanks to my partner, who enables me to live without too many stressors), - but always being a mum and a partner!

    It has been such a learning curve trying to cope with my social and agora phobia or living with my dilated pupils indicating that I am in one of my extreme "mood swings" again. :-)

    I am fortunate to have a calm and relaxed environment with my partner and little man. My sanctuary has helped me to be who I am. You know there is so much learning to do throughout our life and sometimes it can hit us quite deeply and the effects are usually caused by either very joyful moments or traumatising experiences and then the ongoing challenges and having to make decisions. Cause and effect of life events i.e. internal (developmental/psychological issues /triggers) & external factors such as social media, school, work, families etc. often gets me out of zinc...

    There are so many blips in life, but I am just trying to surf with them...sometimes I am right on them and then the ocean is calm again, just for a little while. My approaches and coping mechanisms are tailor-made and geared towards my life style.

    Wishing you all health and happiness.


  • Hi Jasa,

    That sounds really hard - I have rarely suffered with it, but to have to manage is constantly must be such a Strain - well done you for coping with it all these years.

    My friend and sister both got me mindfulness colouring books and they did really help when trying to calm my mind -doubt anywhere as good as your art though!

    It’s so good that your partner is very supportive- I certainly count on my family and friends and without them I could not have recovered from PP in the way, or as quickly as I did. Even this little blip has shown me how much people care and that goes a long way.

    I hope you stay well xx

  • Thank you for your kind words and the compliment :-) .

    My sleeping patterns have improved this is good to have peer support and talking to some incredible mums on this forum.

    Look after yourself.


  • Hello all,

    I wanted to update you on this as when I stopped the diazepam the anxiety and insomnia returned very quickly, and brought back a lot of feelings from PP with a huge fear of becoming psychotic again. I quickly went back to my GP and he put me on sertraline to help with the anxiety. Unfortunately this takes 2 weeks to kick in and after another week of pretty much no sleep I was feeling so bad and asked to be put back on Olanzapine as a) I know it makes me sleep and b)I was so scared of becoming psychotic.

    Thankfully this did the trick and I quickly felt ALOT better once I had a few nights of full sleep. I have since seen my GP again and with this, and flashbacks that I had in the summer, he said I most likely have PTSD from the psychosis so has referred me for therapy for it. I ended up being off work for a month as it unnerved me so much, but in some respects it wasn’t a bad thing - although my bosses knew I had PP, my colleagues didn’t, and it was a chance to explain everything. Everyone has been really supportive over it.

    I wondered if anyone else has been diagnosed with PTSD from their PP and had treatment for it? Thinking about it PP is such a traumatic experience I can see that it could definitely happen

    I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and 2018 is good to you xx

  • Hi Helen

    It sounds like you have a great support network in place and a supportive Gp which is good.

    I was diagnosed with PTSD, i think the whole experience as a whole contributed to the diagnosis. I was in a mother and baby unit and found this resource invaluable. Especially now when I look back.

    When I came home I had weekly sessions which really helped me so it is good to hear that you have been referred for therapy. You should find this really helpful.

    I am not sure why but I also worry that if I do not get enough sleep that psychosis may return. Maybe because this was the biggest contributing factor initially.

    I wish you a great 2018 and hope that everything works out for you x

  • Hi Theo,

    Yes I am incredibly lucky with all the support I have, and having a GP who really understands the problem makes a world of difference.

    Do you know what type of therapy you had for PTSD? My GP mentioned EMDR. I had therapy for PND about 5 months after I had PP which I found very good, so I am confident that this will help.

    How are you doing? I know you posted to say you were having rough time a couple of months ago and Christmas can be very hard when you feel like that. I hope things have improved for you xx

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