If you notice that in the 1-2 weeks leading up to your period, you struggle to fall asleep, feel you need more sleep than usual, and wake up not feeling refreshed, PMS may be why! Experiencing other PMS symptoms are liked to a increase in likihood that you’ll have this symptom (sometimes, when it rains, it pours). Let’s unpack why this may happen.
Trouble sleeping and with sleep quality can have a few causes, ranging from physical or emotional symptoms keeping you up, preexisting conditions such as PMDD, as well as hormonal effects on sleep and tiredness.
Don’t worry, there are many ways to manage sleep issues around your period, or throughout your cycle, including diet changes and practising good sleep hygiene, to therapy, or even some medication options.
The connection between mood, hormones, and sleep
Mood and sleep are closely connected, so it's possible that feeling anxious, sad, irritable, or being in physical pain or discomfort (all known symptoms of PMS!) are more likely to keep you awake. Even if you get at least 7-9 hours of sleep, that sleep may not be super refreshing if you’re not feeling good. On top of that, sleep deprivation can make PMS symptoms worse, which in turn, makes it harder to sleep in a uncomfortable cycle.
Preexisting conditions that cause sleep issues and/or PMDD may also make sleep issues even worse before your period (PME).
Another factor to consider, is that 1-2 weeks before your period, a hormone called estrogen drops and another hormone, progesterone, suddenly rises and then falls. While progesterone has been linked to sleepiness (so having high progesterone may lead to needing more sleep), experts believe it’s likely that changes in the balance of these hormones are linked to poor sleep quality.
There may also be factors such as body temperature, melatonin levels, serotonin levels, and circadian rhythm (body clock - your circadian rhythm regulates when you feel tired and when you wake up) that influence this issue.
How can you manage it?
Good sleep habits can help prevent insomnia and promote sound sleep for any time of your cycle, but may be especially important before your period. These can include:
- Keeping your bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day, including weekends (weekend sleep-ins may feel great, but they can mess up your body’s sense of when you should be feeling tired at night)
- Exercising regularly (if your body is tired, you’re more likely to be too)
- Avoid or limit naps
- Avoid or limit caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and salty foods (even though you’re likely to crave them even more at this time)
- Avoid large meals before bedtime
- Make your bedroom comfortable and avoid doing other activities like working or watching TV from bed. This helps your mind better categorize the bed as a “trigger” to start feeling tired.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine filled with self care, such as taking a warm bath, reading, or listening to soft music
- Therapy can give you tips and tricks for getting your body to relax and addressing underlying mental issues.
- Melatonin is a sleep hormone that your body naturally produces; supplementing it with pills can help regulate your sleep schedule during PMS. Although take this sparingly and not for extended periods of time.
PMS can cause a lot of symptoms that most people wouldn’t consider, including sleep issues. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, that may make it harder to sleep restfully, especially if you have a preexisting condition. It also may be that hormonal shifts can cause your body to react. Rest assured, there are many lifestyle and diet factors that may improve this symptom, as well as some therapeutic and medication options.
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Post by Miranda Bromage