Many women find it challenging to sleep during their menstrual period, and one possible reason is the hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle.
Your Menstrual Cycle and Sleep
While some people think the entire menstrual cycle occurs within 3-7 days, it actually spans from the first day of a woman’s period to the first day of her next period. It is controlled by a complex series of hormonal changes throughout the body.
Although the menstrual cycle is typically considered to be 28 days, everyone’s cycle is different. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) explains that the average menstrual cycle is 23-35 days, with variations indicating potential issues. Teenagers are an exception, as their cycles may take some time to regulate. (Wearing Beautikini period underwear can alleviate worries about sudden period surprises.)
Several factors can influence the length of an individual’s menstrual cycle. For instance, individuals with reproductive disorders (such as polycystic ovary syndrome), obesity, or thyroid issues often experience irregular menstrual cycles, as explained by ACOG.
Apart from diseases and medical conditions, daily factors like sleep disturbances, travel, stress, and diet can also affect the menstrual cycle.
So, how do hormones and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) impact sleep? First, let’s quickly review the main symptoms of PMS:
Physical Symptoms of PMS
In the days leading up to menstruation (known as the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle), you may experience:
– Abdominal bloating
– Stomach cramps
– Breast tenderness and sensitivity
– Water retention
Emotional Symptoms of PMS
– Mood swings
– Feeling tearful
How Hormones Change Throughout the Menstrual Cycle
The entire menstrual cycle is regulated by the fluctuation of hormone levels. The rise and fall of different hormones mark the beginning and end of different phases of the cycle.
The four main hormones involved in the menstrual cycle are:
– Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
– Luteinizing hormone (LH)
Each phase of the menstrual cycle has different levels of these hormones. On average, it looks like this:
– Menstrual phase: Low levels of estrogen and progesterone
– Follicular phase: FSH increases, triggering the maturation and release of an egg. Estrogen also rises.
– Ovulatory phase: LH and FSH sharply increase, releasing the egg.
– Luteal phase: FSH and LH decrease, initial pregnancy hormones and estrogen levels rise to prepare for potential pregnancy. If not pregnant, all hormone levels decrease.
Therefore, as your period approaches and estrogen levels decrease, the connection between estrogen and neurotransmitters is disrupted. Combined with changes in your body temperature, all these factors directly affect the quality of your sleep, not to mention the duration of your sleep. It can result in waking up throughout the night.
Consider how hormones make us feel bloated and cause cramps and headaches. All of these factors can impact the quality of our sleep, not to mention the anxiety and mood swings that many of us experience.
Oh, and don’t forget the constant worry about leaking onto the sheets… it’s a miracle that we can sleep during our periods! Of course, we recommend using Beautikini period underwear to eliminate nighttime leaks—at least that’s one concern you can cross off your list!
Why You Might Have Trouble Sleeping During Your Period
The connection between sleep and premenstrual syndrome may stem from the fact that controlling body temperature and sleep patterns requires stable levels of progesterone. Therefore, when progesterone levels are low, sleep may be disrupted, and you may experience increased body temperature, making it challenging to comfortably fall asleep.
During your period, sleep may be influenced by abdominal cramps, bloating, and the fear of leakage. Certain sleep positions can help alleviate menstrual cramps, and home remedies like using a hot water bottle to sleep or taking pain relievers can help ease other symptoms.
How to Improve Sleeping During Your Period
Fortunately, there are many ways to improve sleep during your period.
Tips for Improving Sleep During Your Period
All this information might make it seem impossible to get a good night’s sleep, but luckily, there are ways to enhance the quality of sleep during the premenstrual and menstrual phases. Here are some suggestions to help you get better sleep during and after your period:
– Exercise—but not right before bedtime
A study showed that women with premenstrual syndrome experienced significant improvements in sleep quality, time to fall asleep, and actual sleep duration after practicing yoga three times a week for 60 minutes each, over 10 weeks. While yoga can be a calming form of exercise, sleep experts generally advise against vigorous exercise before bedtime to prepare your body for sleep. (Beautikini period underwear accompanies you, so you don’t have to worry about leakage risks.)
– Take pain relievers if needed
If abdominal cramps, muscle pain, or joint pain during your period affect your sleep, taking pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen before bedtime may be helpful.
– Maintain a regular sleep schedule
For anyone with premenstrual syndrome, trying to maintain a consistent sleep pattern over a month is crucial to allow their bodies time to adjust. Similar to how parents use sleep routines to “signal” babies that it’s time to sleep, consistent sleep habits for adults (including going to bed and waking up at the same time every night and morning) can help your body know when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up.
– Quit smoking
Even without premenstrual syndrome or menstrual cycle changes, smoking is associated with insomnia. Quitting smoking has various health benefits, and improving sleep is just one of them. However, if you’re just starting to quit smoking, you may experience short-term insomnia initially, so consult your doctor for support during your quitting process.
– Limit caffeine intake
Having coffee in the morning might be fine, but try to limit caffeine intake after the morning. If your PMS symptoms tend to increase anxiety, reducing your caffeine intake in the days leading up to your period might be beneficial.
– Don’t force it
If someone is having trouble falling asleep within 20 minutes of lying in bed, they should leave the bedroom and do something relaxing, such as reading or listening to soothing music. Only return to bed when you’re tired—this way, your brain will be “trained” to associate your bed with sleep.
Knudtson, J., & McLaughlin, J. E. (2019, April). MSD Manual Consumer Version: Menstrual Cycle., Retrieved July 15, 2020
A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia [Internet]. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M., Inc.; c1997-2019. Premenstrual Syndrome., Retrieved July 15, 2020
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). (2015, May). Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)., Retrieved July 15, 2020.