How to Sleep on Your Period

Medically reviewed by
 Dr. Jing Zhang, Neuroscientist

Dr. Jing Zhang, Neuroscientist

Jing Zhang is a prominent figure in the realm of sleep research, specializing in the intricate connection between sleep and memory. With an extensive research tenure exceeding 7 years, she…

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Last Updated On April 1st, 2024
How to Sleep on Your Period

Key Takeaways

  • Hormonal Fluctuations Impact Sleep: Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep. Understanding these fluctuations and practicing good sleep hygiene is crucial for managing sleep disturbances during menstruation.
  • Lifestyle Factors Matter: Incorporating regular exercise, maintaining a balanced diet, and managing stress levels can contribute to better sleep quality during menstruation. Exercise, in particular, has been shown to regulate sleep-wake cycles, reduce anxiety, and promote relaxation, all of which are beneficial for improving sleep.
  • Creating a Comfortable Sleep Environment: Making adjustments to your sleeping environment, such as elevating your legs, choosing supportive pillows and bedding, and maintaining a cool bedroom temperature, can significantly improve sleep comfort and alleviate period-related discomfort.

Are you struggling to get a good night’s sleep during your menstrual cycle? You’re not alone. Many individuals who have periods also experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which can interfere with sleep. Prioritizing sleep is essential for overall well-being, especially during your period.

Creating a comfortable sleeping environment can also significantly impact your sleep. From finding the right sleeping position to ensuring optimal conditions for relaxation, we will provide you with easy-to-implement strategies to create a sleep-friendly atmosphere.

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Let’s explore some relaxation techniques that can help you manage PMS symptoms and promote better sleep. Taking care of your mental health is crucial during this time, and we will discuss various techniques that can help you relax and unwind for a restful night’s sleep.

The Impact of Menstrual Hormones on Sleep

During your menstrual cycle, Verified Source Medline Plus Online resource offered by the National Library of Medicine and part of the National Institutes of Health. View source hormonal changes can have a significant impact on your sleep patterns. Fluctuations in hormones can lead to changes in body temperature and various period symptoms Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source that may disrupt your sleep. To ensure better sleep during this time, it’s important to practice good sleep hygiene (along with good menstrual hygiene Verified Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The United States’ health protection agency that defends against dangers to health and safety. View source ).

Menstrual-related sleep disturbances Verified Source ScienceDirect One of the largest hubs for research studies and has published over 12 million different trusted resources. View source have a high prevalence, especially among those with severe premenstrual syndrome, according to sleep expert Dr. Jing Zhang. One factor for the menstrual cycle to affect sleep is menstrual pain. More than half of the women experience pain during their menstrual cycle to different degrees, and having pain makes it more difficult to have a good night sleep.

One of the ways menstrual hormones Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source can affect sleep is through changes in body temperature. As hormone levels rise and fall, the menstrual cycle can lead to fluctuations Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source in a woman’s body temperature, resulting in night sweats or feeling too hot or cold.

These fluctuations in temperature regulation can make it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping environment and hinder your ability to fall into a restful sleep.

The Role of Exercise on Sleep Quality

Regular exercise (and a balanced diet) play key roles in promoting better sleep quality, and that includes improving sleep on your period. When it comes to sleep medicine and managing period pain symptoms, incorporating physical activity can help, though more research on how exercise impacts period pain is needed, a 2009 review Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source noted.

Exercise has been shown to improve sleep in various ways. Engaging in regular physical activity helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle, promotes relaxation, and reduces anxiety and stress levels. It also increases the production of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters and can contribute to better sleep.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, most days of the week. If you have low energy levels during your period, try to exercise with a simple walk or other low-impact exercise. Avoid exercising too close to bedtime, as it can increase alertness and make it harder to fall asleep.

Creating a Comfortable Sleeping Environment

Getting a good night’s sleep while dealing with period cramps can be a challenge. However, creating a cozy and healthy sleeping environment can make a significant difference in helping you fall asleep faster and alleviate discomfort.

1. Elevate your legs

Consider using a wedge pillow or cushion under your knees to elevate your legs slightly while you sleep. This position can help reduce pressure on your abdomen and alleviate period cramps. Experiment with different heights to find what works best for you.

2. Try sleeping on your side

Sleeping on your side can help relieve pressure on your lower abdomen, reducing the intensity of period cramps. You can place a pillow between your knees for added support and comfort. Experiment with different positions to find the most comfortable one for you.

Sleeping in the fetal position can help alleviate pressure on the abdominal muscles, which may improve poor sleep quality, especially during menstruation.

3. Use extra pillows

If sleeping on your side or elevating your legs doesn’t provide enough relief, try using extra pillows to support your body. For example, you can place a pillow under your belly or lower back to help ease the pain caused by cramping muscles.

4. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows

A good quality mattress and pillows can make a world of difference when it comes to getting a comfortable sleep. Look for a type of mattress that provides adequate support for your body and pillows that align with your preferred sleeping position. Memory foam mattresses and supportive pillows can be particularly beneficial for relieving period cramps.

5. Keep your bedroom cool

A cool and comfortable bedroom temperature can promote better sleep and help alleviate discomfort. Set your thermostat to a temperature for sleep that feels pleasant to you, typically between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 20 degrees Celsius). Use breathable bedding materials, such as cotton, to help regulate your body temperature.

6. Create a soothing bedtime routine

Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine can signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Consider incorporating activities like taking a warm bath, reading a favorite book, drinking herbal tea for sleep, or journaling before bed.

Relaxation Techniques to Promote Better Sleep

If you’re experiencing PMS symptoms Verified Source Medline Plus Online resource offered by the National Library of Medicine and part of the National Institutes of Health. View source that are interfering with your sleep, implementing relaxation techniques can make a significant difference in your sleep quality. Taking care of your mental health and addressing issues like excessive sleepiness are crucial for healthy women.

During the menstrual cycle, it’s common for women to experience increased stress or irritability, which can adversely affect sleep. Consequently, finding ways to engage in self-reflection becomes important, Dr. Jing Zhang adds.

Practice Deep Breathing

One effective relaxation technique is deep breathing exercises. Find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and take slow, deep breaths, focusing on your breath as it goes in and out.

Deep breathing exercises such as box breathing can help reduce stress and anxiety, promoting a sense of calmness and relaxation.

Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source involves tensing and then releasing each muscle group in your body, starting from your toes and working your way up. This technique helps relieve tension and promote a state of relaxation, making it easier to fall asleep.

Create a Bedtime Routine

Creating a bedtime routine for adults can signal to your body that it’s time to relax and prepare for sleep. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule and routine, as this can regulate your sleep-wake cycle and improve your overall sleep quality.

When establishing a bedtime routine, choose activities that help you unwind along with needed activities such as brushing and flossing your teeth or a nighttime skin routine. These activities can include:

  • Drinking a cup of herbal tea for sleep
  • Practicing relaxation exercises
  • Writing down your thoughts about the day

Seeking Medical Advice and Support

If you find that your sleep problems persist despite trying various strategies, or if you experience severe mood swings Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source during your menstrual cycle, it’s important to seek medical advice and support. Remember, you’re not alone in dealing with these challenges – many women and gender-diverse Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source individuals face similar issues and find relief through professional guidance.

Your hormone levels play a significant role in your overall well-being, including your sleep patterns and mood regulation. Consulting a healthcare provider can help you better understand the impact of hormonal fluctuations on your sleep and mood swings, and they can provide personalized advice and suitable treatment options tailored to your needs.

FAQs

What makes period pain worse?

Certain factors can exacerbate period pain, including stress, lack of physical activity, and poor dietary choices. Consuming excessive caffeine, salty foods, and sugary snacks may contribute to inflammation and discomfort. There are other reasons to avoid overindulging in caffeine, salt, and sugar that affects sleep, of course.

We suggest maintaining a balanced lifestyle with regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and stress-management practices to help minimize the intensity of period pain.

What helps period pain at night?

To ease period pain before bed, consider using a heating pad or hot water bottle on your lower abdomen to soothe cramps. Additionally, practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or gentle stretches before bedtime, can help ease discomfort.

Choosing a comfortable sleep environment with supportive pillows and bedding can contribute to a better night’s rest.

What should you not do during your period?

During your period, we suggest to avoid excessive consumption of caffeine and salty foods, as these can contribute to water retention and bloating. Engaging in intense physical activities might exacerbate cramps, so opt for gentler exercises like walking, swimming or stretches.

Pay attention to your body’s signals and prioritize self-care during your menstrual cycle.

What is the best sleep position for period pain?

While the best sleep position for period pain varies, many find relief by lying on their side with knees bent. Placing a pillow between the knees can help align the spine and reduce pelvic pressure. Experiment with different sleep positions to find what works best for you, and consider using extra pillows for added support.

How can I sleep during my period?

To improve sleep during your period, establish a relaxing bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. Practice good sleep hygiene by keeping the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. Using period products designed for overnight use, such as overnight pads, tampons, or period underwear, can provide added protection and peace of mind.

How much sleep do you need on your period?

The amount of sleep needed during your period is individualized, but it’s essential to prioritize adequate rest to support overall health and well-being. Hormonal fluctuations can contribute to fatigue, making quality sleep crucial.

On average, adults generally require 7-9 hours of sleep per night, but during your period, paying attention to your body’s signals and ensuring you get enough rest to manage symptoms is key for optimal comfort and functioning.

Why do I feel weak and shaky on my period?

Feeling weak and shaky during your period can be attributed to hormonal fluctuations, specifically changes in estrogen and progesterone levels. These hormonal shifts can affect blood sugar levels, leading to feelings of weakness and shakiness. Adequate hydration, maintaining a balanced diet, and managing stress can help alleviate these symptoms.

Conclusion

It is important to remember that every woman’s experience leading up to their period is unique. Some individuals may find that implementing these strategies brings significant improvements in sleep quality, while others may require additional support or medical intervention.

Engaging in soothing activities before bed can also promote better sleep. Consider reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing gentle stretches. These activities can help you wind down, reduce stress, and prepare your body and mind for a peaceful night’s sleep.

Always remember to listen to your body and consult with a healthcare professional if you have persistent sleep problems or concerns about your menstrual cycle.


About the author

Mitchell Tollsen is a graduate student and a freelance writer who’s contributed to the Early Bird blog for three years. Mitchell’s always been fascinated by the science of sleep and the restorative processes our bodies undergo when at rest. The self-titled “Sleep Expert” is always looking for ways to improve his shut-eye, and throughout the years has implemented numerous lifestyle changes and tried dozens of sleep-promoting gadgets to determine the best ways to truly get better rest.

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