Periods are messy as it is, but combine them with mood swings, cramps, and sleepless nights and they become downright uncomfortable. Research says that 30% of women have trouble sleeping during their period. Of course, hormone changes are a significant reason for these sleep disruptions. But not being able to sleep in a relaxed, comfortable way makes things even worse.
There are ways to sleep that can help ease period pains and make it easier to fall asleep. You can also try out different sleeping positions to help you sleep better. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to get a good night’s sleep during your period.
Why do Periods Affect Sleep?
​​Researchers don’t know why periods make sleeping hard, but here are some reasons which might be affecting the way you sleep during your periods:
- Hormones: Hormone levels vary from person to person, which may explain why sleep disturbances aren’t always the same for each person. Changes in progesterone and estrogens may affect how well you sleep at different times of the month. Around a week before your period, your progesterone levels peak. This causes your body temperature to rise, making it hard to sleep. Progesterone may also affect how long you spend in each stage of sleep.
- Moods: Mood changes are another important thing to consider when figuring out why you can’t sleep before your period. Periods can cause anxiety and depression, linked to sleep troubles. Also, these mood changes can make women think they have a more challenging time falling asleep or wake up feeling less rested.
- Melatonin: Melatonin is important for regulating the circadian rhythm and getting a good night’s sleep. Some research has shown that the levels of the hormone melatonin change during the menstrual cycle. It doesn’t make you sleepy, but as your melatonin levels rise in the evening, it puts you in quiet wakefulness that helps you sleep.
How Can Periods Affect Sleep?
Changes in hormones, painful symptoms, and a general sense of tiredness can make it hard to fall asleep. During and right before their period, many people say they sleep worse. Here are two ways that your period can make it hard to sleep:
- Feeling Physical Discomfort: Painful cramps and other signs of your period can keep you from getting a good night’s sleep. In turn, not getting enough sleep can change a woman’s menstrual cycle and make her more sensitive to pain. Studies have shown that people who have irregular periods or who bleed a lot during their periods are more likely to feel tired and have trouble sleeping. During their period, some people may have vivid dreams and wake up in the middle of the night.
- Premenstrual Symptoms (PMS): People may find it hard to fall asleep in the week before their period and spend more time awake at night. The symptoms of premenstrual syndrome may make it harder to sleep during this time.
5 Ways to Get Better Sleep During Your Period
The mind and body benefit significantly from a good night’s sleep. Similar benefits exist when it comes to easing the pain of menstrual cramps. Just think how much more irritable you would be in a bad situation if you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Not getting enough quality sleep could ruin the next morning (or day). Here are five tips to make sure that you have an amazing night’s sleep and an even better morning during your periods:
- Use a Heating Pad Before Bed: Heat therapy relaxes the uterus muscles, increasing blood flow and reducing pain. Try heating patches that stick to themselves, which makes them the perfect thing to keep by your bed in case cramps keep you up at night. You can also use an ice pack if you prefer a cooler temperature. This can help because it pulls blood out of the pelvic area.
- Have a Healthy Bedtime Routine: Give yourself about an hour to relax and get ready for a good night’s sleep. Run a bath, light a candle, make chamomile tea, read a book, or spray the room with lavender essential oil. If you do this every night, you’ll probably be in such a good routine that you’ll find it easy to fall asleep on your period, too.
- Try Relaxation Techniques: Slow, consistent breathing can slow down your heart rate and help you feel more relaxed before bed. Meditation, like breathing exercises, can help reduce stress and anger and even take your mind off of physical pain.
- Say No to Heavy Meals: During the menstrual cycle, changes in hormones can make a woman want different things, but going to bed with a full stomach can make it hard to sleep. Try to eat at least three hours before bed; if you can’t, eat healthy foods. Sugar and salt are what your mind wants, but they can worsen your period pain and make you feel bloated overnight.
- Get Rid of Your Coffee Mug: If you tend to get anxious and stressed out, it’s likely worse when you have your period. Caffeine speeds up the heart rate and can make you sweat and shake your hands, which is the last thing you want if you’re already stressed. Also, too much caffeine late in the day can make sleeping hard.
Best Sleeping Positions During Your Periods
Period cramps are inevitable, but they shouldn’t impact your sleep. You can try changing your sleeping position to get more comfortable as you wait for sleep to embrace you. Here are some positions you can try:
- Fetal Position: Although no evidence supports it, some doctors suggest the fetal position when sleeping to alleviate menstrual cramps. It is recommended to lie on your side with your knees tucked into your chest as if you were a fetus in the womb. It’s thought that this is because lying on one’s side eases the strain on the core muscles. Pain and cramping are already common during menstruation; anything that puts extra pressure on your abdominal muscles is just asking for trouble.
- Child’s Pose: Sleeping in a child’s pose has been said to relieve cramps and back pain. The yoga savasana position may not be for everyone, but if you find it relaxing, you might want to try it out the next time you’re having trouble falling asleep.
- Pillow under the Knees: Lie on your back with a small, round pillow (not too high) between your knees. Make sure your legs are completely straight. A rolled-up towel can be a makeshift round knee pillow in a pinch. Muscles will begin to loosen, and you’ll feel relaxed in just a few minutes.
- Recovery Position: Lying on your side with your bottom leg straight and your top leg bent toward your belly can give you the same abdominal release as the fetal position. It can also help you breathe deeper and take in more oxygen, which may help you sleep better. If you have trouble with snoring, the position might help, but if it doesn’t, you can always invest in an anti-snoring solution like Smart Nora to stop snoring.
In the end, the best way to find a position to sleep in that will ease your pain is to listen to your own body. If you find yourself tossing around during your period, stay in an uncomfortable position for a few extra moments to see what part of your body is trying to get your attention.
No More Sleep Loss When Aunt Flo Visits
Having your period may make sleeping difficult, especially if you have cramps. There’s nothing magical about these sleeping positions, but they will help you feel better when you have your period. You can also drink some warm chamomile tea right before bed to help you sleep. Set the mood – use a humidifier or electric diffuser to spread some essential oils in your room, turn off the lights, get comfortable in your bed, and get ready to lose yourself in the sweet embrace of sleep.