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Is your sleep affected during periods? 4 reasons why it happens

Along with mood swings, anxiety, and cramps, you may experience sleep problems during your menstrual cycle. Here are 4 major causes of period insomnia you must know.
period insomnia
There are several causes of sleep problems during a period cycle. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Aayushi Gupta Updated: 14 Jun 2024, 08:13 pm IST
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Do you wake up in the middle of the night, especially before and during your period? A monthly period cycle causes various symptoms like cramps, bloating, and mood swings, leading to significant discomfort. But periods can also trigger sleep problems. Hormonal fluctuations, particularly in estrogen and progesterone (hormones responsible for the menstrual cycle), can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia. Insomnia is more common among females than males and one of the most common contributors to this condition is hormonal imbalance related to the menstrual cycle. Know what is it and how to deal with period insomnia.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a serious sleep disorder in which a person finds it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake up too early and is unable to go back to sleep. It disturbs the sleep cycle, causing daytime fatigue and mood swings. There are two types of insomnia, acute insomnia and chronic insomnia. Acute insomnia lasts for a short period and is caused by stress, while chronic insomnia persists for at least three nights a week for three months or longer. Causes of the problem include stress, anxiety, depression, poor sleep habits, and certain medical conditions or medications. Apart from these causes, some women complain of experiencing insomnia during periods as well.

What causes period insomnia?

During or before periods, it is normal to encounter insomnia and sleep problems. Here are 4 common causes of period insomnia:

1. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

PMS is a group of signs and symptoms experienced by women before or during periods. This includes breast tenderness, fatigue, food cravings, mood swings, hormonal imbalance, weight gain, and cramps. “Since PMS directly influences your hormonal levels and sleeping patterns, it could lead to insomnia,” explains Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Padma Srivastava. A study published by the Journal of Sleep Medicine and Disorders reveals that women with severe PMS symptoms, known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), may encounter sleep problems.

Also read: PMDD could be silently burdening your mental health before your period

A woman experiencing period pain
PMS includes sleep disturbances as well. Image courtesy: Freepik

As a result, you may experience various sleep-related problems, such as difficulty falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night abruptly, finding it hard to catch some sleep, and feeling sleepy and nauseous throughout the day

2. Body temperature changes

Sleep and body temperature are directly linked to each other. Your body temperature significantly drops during the night, which allows your body to relax, resulting in good quality sleep. However, a woman’s body temperature constantly fluctuates during the menstrual cycle due to hormonal changes. Some women even get a fever during the period cycle. These changes in body temperature during or before periods may cause sleeping problems.

3. Hormonal imbalance

Insomnia that occurs at least a week before periods and resolves shortly after the period cycle could also be due to hormonal changes in the body. “The decline in key hormones, estrogen, and progesterone, which regulate the menstrual cycle, contributes to this. These hormonal shifts elevate body temperature and anxiety levels, leading to sleep disturbances,” says Dr Srivastava. In fact, during this time, people with PMDD produce less melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep, which can also cause sleep problems. Moreover, due to hormonal imbalance, along with physical symptoms, women may also experience emotional changes, which may also make it difficult to fall asleep.

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Also read: Follow these 10 tips to sleep like a baby in hot weather!

4. PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. If you have this condition, you may not have periods of time. Along with irregular menstrual cycles, it can result in excess androgen levels and cysts. Women with PCOS often experience sleep disturbances, including insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea, according to a study published by the Journal of Nature and Science of Sleep. Additionally, PCOS is associated with higher levels of anxiety and depression, which can further exacerbate insomnia.

exercises for insomnia
PCOS can also take a toll on your sleep cycle! Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What are the other symptoms of PMS?

Now you know why PMS and sleep problems often overlap. Here are some other symptoms of PMS you should know:

Physical symptoms of PMS:

  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headaches
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Appetite changes
  • Acne
  • Constipation or diarrhoea

Emotional symptoms of PMS:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Poor concentration
  • Changes in libido
  • Tension
  • Anger

All women experience different symptoms and the symptoms can vary in intensity and duration. If you find it difficult to deal with PMS, you must consult with your healthcare provider.

How to deal with period insomnia?

Here are 7 tips to manage your sleep cycle during periods:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • To fall asleep quickly, you may read a book, take a warm bath, or practice meditation before you go to bed.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine and sugary foods, especially in the afternoon and evening, because they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises to manage stress. Managing stress and anxiety can alleviate some of the emotional symptoms of PMS that contribute to insomnia.
  • Follow a balanced diet, rich in magnesium and vitamin B6, especially during a period cycle. They can help alleviate PMS symptoms.
  • Ensure your room is cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day, but reduce fluid intake in the evening to prevent nighttime trips to the bathroom.

If you still find it difficult to manage your sleep cycle, talk it out with your doctor to find a solution.

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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