Monthly cycles are more than just a monthly bleed. Many women experience abdominal cramps and mood level fluctuations, making our cycles even more complicated and worthy of meticulous care. These experiences can indeed make day-to-day life tiresome and challenging, affecting also our other daily routines like sleeping.
According to the US National Sleep Foundation’s research, 30 percent of people experience disturbed sleeping time when on their cycles. About 23 percent also said that they struggle to get eight hours of sleep starting from the week before their cycle.
Now, how do we manage cycle symptoms and get the sleep quality that we want to achieve? Let us take you through how the body works during our monthly cycle and how we can manage cycle symptoms to ensure better sleep.
What happens to your body during your cycle?
Menstrual cycles usually last from 25 to 35 days. Fluctuations in our four key hormones set the phases of our cycles apart. Each cycle starts on the first day of menstrual flow, which is when estrogen and progesterone levels are low. During the follicular phase (days 2-13), women’s estrogen levels rise, which leads to ovulation (day 14). The luteal phase (days 15-28) then involves an increase in progesterone prior to the hormone levels’ drop. Then, a new cycle begins the moment menstruation starts. Of course, there are always changes in female cycles, depending on the body conditions. Therefore, the menstrual symptoms may vary.
Progesterone is connected to both fatigue and body temperature increase, which are two usual symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). This is the reason why women may feel exhausted but have trouble sleeping.
Ways to get a good night’s sleep during periods
1. Keep a healthy, period-friendly diet
During the cycle, women tend to feel bloated and less energized to do normal daily routines. Women also feel too uncomfortable to sleep. To help ease the mood and facilitate better sleep, staying hydrated by drinking more water and reducing caffeine, sugar, and salt intake goes a long way. It also helps to eat more frequently but in smaller amounts. Keep a healthy diet that can help reduce premenstrual syndrome symptoms and afternoon slumps. Consider meals that are rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and avoid unhealthy ones like salty snacks and fast food.
2. Alleviate abdominal cramps
While many experience cramp-free monthly periods, there are also those who suffer a lot from abdominal cramps or dysmenorrhea. To help ease menstrual pain and experience better sleep quality, consider lying in the fetal position to relieve tension and remove pressure from your muscles in the abdomen. It also helps to keep a hot water bottle and do a hot compress on your abdomen to soothe muscle cramps and help you sleep without the excruciating abdominal pain.
3. Keep your bedroom cool
When you are on your period, your body temperature rises. So, when you are sweaty and struggling to get cozy, you may find it hard to sleep better. Try changing your sheets into softer and more comfortable ones, leaving the window slightly open for fresh air flow, and regulate the temperature by turning the thermostat down a little.
4. Use comfortable period gears
Your comfortability during your cycle is also determined by the products you use. There are common products that use plastic materials and contain pesticides, harmful chemicals, and fragrances that may cause itching and irritation. Keep your body protected with healthier alternatives, especially eco-friendly ones. If you can’t also sleep because of worrying about possible blood leaks through your underwear or pajamas, consider also using period underwear.
Period anxiety, discomfort, and pain can keep some people up at night. Listen to your body’s needs and relieve the symptoms of anxiety and discomfort by exercising, especially if you can. Whether it’s a quick gym session or some gentle pre-sleep exercises, the endorphins released by exercising will keep you energized, help you feel relaxed, and elevate your mood. Additionally, exercising can also help you relieve period stress that can plummet your energy during the day. Try aerobic exercises or low-impact ones like walking, jogging, cycling, and even basic stretching.
6. Improve your sleep hygiene
It’s really difficult to sleep with ease during your period. To help you with this, consider changing certain sleep habits which may help reduce period insomnia without the need for medications to aid in better sleep. Health experts recommend that an average person must keep a regular bedtime with seven to nine hours of sleep. It’s also best to maintain a cool and quiet bedroom with less light to promote better sleep. You can also talk to your doctor should you experience sleep problems.
7. De-stress or do journaling before bedtime
If stress is trying to keep you up at night, you can also do several relaxation activities. You can listen to calming songs, freshen up with a warm shower or bath, and use essential oils before bed. If you have a skincare routine, do that as well so you can relax your body and mind. However, keep in mind to remain gentle on the skin and be selective on the products you use since your period makes some skin sensitive to touch.
Try keeping a sleep diary or journal as well to process your emotions or thoughts and track your menstrual cycle routines. With this, you can see which ones are affecting your sleep quality and may help you identify what lifestyle changes to make
Consider these suggestions above to help you get your best good night’s sleep. Remember to try and keep the practices that will work best for you.