Edith, a 28-year-old working corporate professional, is never so agitated and restless in the office. She always maintains her calm even in the most taxing and pressurizing situations. However, she is nearing her monthly period, so one would quickly relate this moodiness and anxiety to her once-a-month PMS attack.
Yes, while the little joyride that her hormones are enjoying in her system could be one of the reasons for Edith’s anxiety, her sleep-deprived eyes and sloppy shoulders have a different story to tell. Edith hasn’t been able to get a full night’s sleep for the last one week. While there is no apparent cause for this lingering absence of sleep, we wonder if it’s got to do something with her monthly menstrual cycle?
Sleeplessness or insomnia induced by menstruation or PMS, affects women about one or two weeks prior to their menstruation date every month. According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 67 percent of women who menstruate, toss and turn for two or three days during every menstrual cycle. From abdominal pain and leg cramps to bloating, heavy bleeding and back ache all can keep you awake the whole night, but it seems like they are not the only culprits.
Pre-menstrual Insomnia Is Real
As compared to the first half of the menstrual cycle, sleep disturbances occur most vividly one to two weeks before menstruation begins (the luteal phase of the cycle). So what is the cause of insomnia that is associated with a woman’s period?
The luteal phase of your menstrual cycle is marked by an enormous rush and then fall in the concentration of female hormones—estrogen and progesterone. However, this is not what makes you sleepless. Insomnia crops up when you have too much estrogen and not enough progesterone to keep a healthy balance.
Progesterone is a soporific, a sedative drug that your body gives you every month when you ovulate. However, its production slows down or falls dramatically just before your period. In order to maintain the hormonal balance, your body produces an excess of estrogen which negatively impacts the production of serotonin and melatonin, the hormones essential for a healthy sleep.
Premenstrual insomnia is known to affect both your ability to fall asleep and the quality of your sleep. Our bodies start with REM sleep (dream sleep) as soon as we fall asleep. This is the stage when our body temperature is the lowest. However, the dwindling levels of progesterone can impact your body temperature and conflict with your REM sleep.
While this might be difficult to comprehend, and no one has all the answers, one thing is certain that the intersection between the sleep cycle and the menstrual cycle can have profound effects on a woman’s health.
Tips To Get Some Shut Eye
Insomnia related to menstruation can be fixed easily if a careful evaluation is done. Here’s how you train your body to get a good night’s sleep.
1. Log Your Sleep: The most important intervention in treating your insomnia is maintaining a sleep journal. This way you can identify if there is a link between your sleepless nights and your menstrual cycle. If your sleep log elucidates that you turn into an insomniac at the same time every month, you can ask your doctor for help.
2. Nourish Your Gut Bacteria: Ovulation increases the production of estrogen in your body. What you eat can help your body to metabolize this well. Start by feeding your gut microbiome, which plays an important role in the breakdown of estrogen and, therefore, influences the production of serotonin and melatonin. Add more probiotics to your diet.
3. Try Natural Remedies: Progesterone supplements can help increase its plummeting levels. Herbs such as chamomile, dandelion, valerian have different medicinal properties and can eliminate your sleeping woes. You can also try some yoga postures to sleep better.
4. Dietary Habits: Make sure what your eating is not adding to your sleep troubles. If you have been chronically stressed and are eating a diet poor in nutrients, maxing out on caffeine to stay awake, then you may be adding fuel to the fire.
5. Light therapy is also known to benefit women by improving mood, reducing anxiety complimented by its beneficial effects on biological rhythms, improved timing of adrenal output, and melatonin release.