how does your menstrual cycle affect your sleep?
8th August 2022
feel like you can't shake the grogginess in the days leading up to your period - no matter how many hours of supposed shut-eye you got the night before? turns out that 7 in 10 people with menstrual cycles say that their sleep patterns noticeably change right before their period starts. and whilst PMS affects every person differently, studies have shown that people who experience PMS symptoms are twice as likely to experience insomnia compared to those who don't have a menstrual cycle. the problem is even more acute for those who have been diagnosed with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a condition that causes severe pms symptoms), with an average of 70% of pmdd patients reporting that they suffer from insomnia or sleep-related problems. so, the question is...
how does the menstrual cycle affect your sleep?
like so many questions related to the menstrual cycle, there's a serious dearth of proper research and statistics surrounding the topic (surprise, surprise). what we do know, however, is that the dramatic fluctuation of hormone levels during the late-luteal phase (that's when PMS begins) is likely to blame. for example: an increase in progesterone during this phase can increase the body's temperature suddenly, which is a root cause of fragmented or disturbed sleep as the body readjusts to the sudden heat. reports have found that when body temperature increases, our REM sleep decreases. if you've experienced the battle between feeling too hot and too cold all within the span of minutes - you know how much this rings true.
another factor that might be at play is....(drum roll, plz)...mood swings. pms and pmdd can trigger anxiety and depression in certain people, both of which have been linked to sleeping issues. some research shows that those with pmdd produce less melatonin - the hormone that lets your body know it's bedtime - overall compared to those without pmdd. lastly, sleep quality is also affected by bodily discomforts that people often experience during pms or their period, namely: bloating, cramps, headaches, digestive issues and lower back pain.
what can I do to improve my sleep hygiene?
before we recommend anything else, our top tip is to start keeping a sleep journal! knowledge is key, and being able to deeply understand your patterns and fluctuations will equip you with the foresight you need to plan around and prepare yourself for your body's changes. try to keep track of your sleep patterns for at least three cycles to be able to draw some meaningful conclusions.
we're always raving about the benefits of meditating in the morning, but the same could be said about a nighttime meditation session. even taking just 10 minutes to close your eyes and focus on your breathing can seriously shift your body into power-down mode.
AVOID SCREEN TIME
how many times do you have to read this before you actually give it a go? listen, we know how difficult it is to put it into practice, but we'll go ahead and say it again: avoiding screen time for the hour leading up to your bedtime is an absolute game-changer. the more you do it, the more you'll realize how much faster you'll drift off into deep sleep, instead of tossing and turning for ~20 minutes as your mind bounces around from idea to idea like a crazed pinball machine.
DITCH THE CAFFEINE & ALCOHOL
your body will thank you. resist that killer craving for a 4pm espresso and opt for a nice herbal tea - or kombucha or green juice or bone broth or literally anything else that is not loaded with caffeine - please and thank you! and while we're here...see how you feel when you cut down on super salty and sugary foods in the evening. both of these can be very inflammatory and can induce bloating. not the move.
DRAW YOURSELF A WARM BATH
you know this is our fave self-care treat, but studies have shown that a good warm soak can do wonders for your sleep (our hot tip: pop a few droppers of holy cramp to really help your body unwind). not only can the warm water help ease achy and fatigued muscles, but the aromatherapeutic essential oils in holy cramp can help your mind unwind by tuning into the senses.
STEADY YOUR MOOD SWINGS
as mentioned above, a big culprit of restless sleep during the menstrual cycle has to do with fluctuating mood swings. help keep yourself steady and centered by doing whatever it takes to make you feel good: a dopamine-fuelled playlist, spending time with nature, moving your body, or taking a few droppers of yours, hormonally every day to give your body a lil extra calming boost. whatever it is that works for you, be sure to lean into your self-care rituals.
have a tip for sleeping soundly? or have a burning question related to your cycle? we'd love to hear it! DM us at @im_ohne on Instagram and we'll get back to you asap. x
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