This is how your period is affecting your sleep
If you regularly feel fatigued during your period but just can’t get a good night’s sleep, you’re not alone. We spoke to two experts to find out the most common sleep issues women experience – and how you can fix them.
The struggle is real
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2007 survey, 33% of menstruating women say their sleep is disrupted during the week of their cycle.
In fact, the survey found that while women on their period were spending the second longest amount of time in bed on weeknights (only pregnant women spent longer) – 67% of these women had symptoms of insomnia at least a couple of nights each week. So what’s coming between us and our shut-eye?
Period symptoms like cramps, bloating, headaches and heavy bleeding can all cause disturbances to sleep. We know: groundbreaking. But there’s actually more to it than that.
Therapist Pat Duckworth says, “The cause of many problems is down to hormone levels. The levels of oestrogen and progesterone vary during the menstrual cycle. Oestrogen levels peak around ovulation and then decline before the start of your period. Progesterone, which can make you feel sleepy, also drops before your period – which is the time when women generally have sleep issues.” So what can we do about it?
THE PROBLEM: YOU’RE TOO HOT
Qualified sleep consultant Maryanne Taylor of The Sleep Works, says, “Your core temperature rises considerably after ovulation, so feeling uncomfortable from heat can affect how we sleep.” According to Maryanne, there are a number of things you can do to stop the rise in body temperature affecting your zzz:
- Keep your bedroom at 15-19’C and use a fan or air-con to create a cross breeze and pull hot air away from you.
- Take a warm bath. It sounds counterintuitive, but having a warm bath or shower can help you cool down. The contrast between hot water and cool air triggers your body’s natural cooling response, which will make body temperature drop and help with sleep.
- Stay hydrated. Keep a glass of water next to your bed to cool down and reduce your body temperature.
THE PROBLEM: YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT LEAKING
You’re so paranoid about waking up to a shark fest, that you can’t relax enough to nod off. Maryanne says, “Pads can be bulky and have a higher risk of leakage – not just due to the strength of flow at night, but also your sleeping position. Gravity is also a factor when wearing pads as lying down may cause the flow to seep beyond the area a pad covers.”
Tampons can be worn for up to eight hours. They are not affected by lack of gravity and may feel more comfortable, and allow you to feel more relaxed that there is less chance of leakage. If you don’t feel confident relying solely on a tampon, try a tampon and pad combo instead.
THE PROBLEM: CRAMPS OR HEADACHES ARE KEEPING YOU AWAKE
Maryanne says, “As well as headaches and cramps, digestive issues such as indigestion, nausea or diarrhea can increase during a period all of which can have a significant impact on sleep. “
Pat recommends finding out whether certain triggers make your symptoms worse, “Keep a journal for a month to notice if there’s a pattern to your disrupted sleep. Include your diet, exercise habits and whether you were under stress.” If you notice that certain foods exacerbate your symptoms, cut down or eliminate them from your diet. Peppermint tea and heat presses can also help with cramps while it’s important to stay hydrated with headaches. The Badger Sleep Balm included in this month’s box is also great for helping you to unwind. The organic balm contains a soothing blend of essential oils to help calm your mind – perfect before bedtime.
Above all, don’t suffer in silence. If it’s impacting on your life, speak to your GP.