Period Insomnia: What Happens
Updated: May 18
The menstrual cycle has numerous effects on the body. It comes with different symptoms most of which are uncomfortable. A week or two before your period starts, the symptoms also check-in. One of the symptoms happens to be disturbed sleep. Studies have shown that your sleeping patterns are interrupted throughout your menstrual cycle but specifically right before your period begins.
Let’s discuss why this happens and how to deal with it.
In this article:
What is period insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which it is difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. This may be a long-term problem or may last for a few days or weeks. Period insomnia can last for several days before your period and continue into menstruation. It is among the most common symptoms attributed to PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). If you have sleep problems before and during menstruation, you should speak to your doctor. They can suggest effective treatments for menstrual insomnia.
What causes it?
The two main hormones that control your menstrual cycle are estrogen and progesterone. In the week before your period, your progesterone levels increase. Your body prepares itself for a potential pregnancy. But if you do not become pregnant, your progesterone levels then drop dramatically. This causes the start of your period as the lining of your uterus is shed. Progesterone has a sleep-inducing effect. The sharp drop in progesterone levels just before your period may be why PMS gives you insomnia.
Sleep and body temperature are linked. Naturally, your body temperature lowers near bedtime which allows you to move into the deeper stages of sleep. Throughout your menstrual cycle, your core body temperature changes. It’s about 0.3 degrees Celsius to 0.7 degrees Celsius higher after ovulation and remains high until your period begins. It will then drop back down to your regular temperature. As your body temperature is higher just before your period, it may have an effect on your sleep.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
If you have polycystic ovary syndrome, you may have irregular menstrual periods, lower progesterone levels, and high testosterone levels. This can worsen your sleep disturbances. You may also have a higher risk of sleep apnea. This is when you stop breathing for short periods during sleep. These short pauses in breathing may happen up to 400 times a night. They might not wake you up but can still disturb your sleep. Some symptoms include the following:
Feeling sleepy in the daytime
Less interest in sex
How can I deal with period insomnia?
First, you will need to find out if your insomnia is linked to your menstrual cycle. Keep a diary of your symptoms for a few months. List your daily symptoms and the dates of your period. The Grace Health app can help with this. It also helps to have a list of symptoms handy if you’re talking to a health professional.
Here are some tips on managing PMS insomnia:
Improve sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene is a set of tactics aimed at improving your sleep quality. They include:
Going to sleep and waking up at around the same time every day.
Avoiding daytime naps.
Not staying awake in bed for more than 15 minutes. If you can't fall asleep, sit in a chair or stand until you feel sleepy again.
Avoiding TV, reading, or using mobile devices in bed.
Avoiding caffeinated drinks later in the day.
Ensuring there’s fresh air in your bedroom. You can either keep it open during the night or at least five minutes before going to sleep if it’s too cold.
Ensuring your bedroom is comfortable: Lights off, comfy mattress
Other tactics you could try are:
On the days leading up to your period, try to get more rest and sleep.
Maintain a healthy diet.
Cut down on alcohol and caffeine.
Try to get more sunlight before and during your period.
Eat less salt and sugar, and more foods rich in calcium.
Talk to your doctor about taking melatonin.
Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble falling and staying asleep for a few days before your period. if you’re noticing a pattern each cycle, you don’t have to manage your symptoms alone. Instead, try to keep a diary of how you’re feeling over the course of a few months and show it to a doctor or other healthcare professional. They will then help to check for underlying issues and prescribe medication if need be.
Stay informed, stay in control. Do you have period insomnia?