In a survey on our Instagram community, we realized that a large portion of respondents suffered from insomnia before and during their period. Let's decipher together why periods prevent so many women (65% of respondents) from sleeping?
Is it normal to suffer from insomnia during your period?
Insomnia and menstruation gohand in hand for nearly two thirds of our community. menstrual disorders particularly PMS. A study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation shows that 23% of respondents have a restless sleep a week before the arrival of the period (thank you Premenstrual Syndrome aka PMS), 30% can not find sleep easily during the period.
This same study shows that REM sleep lasts less long up to 10 days before menstruation. The deep sleep phase, which is the most restorative , is shorter. It is normal to have less restful sleep, restless nights and difficulty falling asleep during the period.
Why is insomnia related to menstruation?
The culprit of insomnia during menstruation is called "hormones" and more precisely "progesterone and estrogen". During the ovulatory period, the production of hormones increases strongly and drops very quickly in the luteal phase. The woman's body will then be turned upside down and some symptoms will appear that are more or less easy to live with: sensitivity, negative emotions, anxiety, headaches, stomach aches, etc. Progesterone, a hormone that is very present during the first trimester of pregnancy, will be present in very low quantities in the body during the period. Falling asleep will therefore be more difficult.
Decrease in hormone levels
All the variations of hormones during the menstrual cycle are the result of the body preparing for a possible pregnancy.
Estrogen (estradiol, estrone and estriol) and progesterone are secreted by the ovaries throughout the cycle from puberty to menopause. The activity of the ovaries is controlled by two hormones controlled by the brain : FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and luteinizing hormone (LH). Every 28 days the menstrual and hormonal cycle repeats itself.
- On the first day of menstruation, the body secretes FSH which stimulates the ovaries
- FSH will promote the secretion of estrogen and promote the maturation of an egg
- During the ovulatory phase, the brain will secrete LH so that the evolution takes place.
- The ovary then secretes progesterone which will thicken the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) which will prepare to receive the fertilized egg.
- The drop in blood levels of progesterone and estrogen will cause the onset of menstruation through bleeding from the endometrium.
Increase in body heat
The drop in progesterone, the increase in body temperature during this phase of the menstrual cycle makes sleep restless, the bodies are hot and sweaty. In fact, during the luteal phase, the body temperature increases by 3 to 5 tenths of a degree. Although very small, these variations prevent a good sleep. This is in contrast to the other phases of the cycle, where the body is cooler at bedtime, which makes it easier to fall asleep.
Other physical factors
Some other symptoms can create insomnia before and during the period. They are related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS):
- Migraines and headaches
- Sore, tender breasts and chest
- Nausea, diarrhea, constipation, bloating which are digestive problems that can make it difficult to fall asleep
- Stomach aches, pelvic pain such as cramps in the lower abdomen
- A fatigue during menstruationgeneral fatigue and aches and pains that are reminiscent of the flu.
- Endometriosis and adenomyosis , which cause severe pain
In addition to these discomforts, there is the discomfort of ill-fitting sanitary protection, not absorbent enough, and the fear of leakage or blood stains. Many women (40% of those surveyed) even have to get out of bed during the night to change their sanitary protection. So many discomforts that prevent women from sleeping and cause night wakings or nightmares.
What factors can aggravate insomnia before and during the period?
In order to limit the impact of hormones and promote restful sleep, we advise you to avoid that of :
- Sleeping on your stomach is a position that compresses the uterus and causes stomach pain during your period. The blood flow increases the amount of bleeding
- Taking hot baths or showers increases the body temperature
- Drinking stimulating beverages after 4 p.m.: tea, coffee, cola, energy drinks that work 2 to 4 hours after consumption
- Practicing a sport activity after 7pm. Sport increases the heart rate and body temperature. Physical activity also causes a discharge of adrenaline which leads to a state of wakefulness and creates insomnia
- The use of screens when night falls and the body is preparing for bedtime is not compatible. Indeed, artificial light (blue light) is different from daylight and can disrupt the biological clock and therefore delay sleep. Indeed, it reduces melatonin, the sleep hormone
- Wearing a sanitary protection not adapted to its flow.
How to sleep better and avoid sleep disorders related to menstruation?
Here are a few tips to help you fall asleep or improve the quality of your deep sleep
- Use a menstrual panties for heavy flows so as not to stain the sheets or have to change during the night.
- Practice a gentle physical activity that will release hormones of well-being and relaxation. Yoga and walking are gentle sports to encourage.
- Take a hot bath one hour and 30 minutes before bedtime to relax and eliminate the stress and tension of the day
- Read a book instead of watching TV.
- Focus on positive things: memories, your vacations and put aside your problems
- Meditate or try sophrology before going to sleep. Practice breathing exercises, remind yourself of .... positive thoughts.
- Herbal medicine will be effective in helping you find a restful sleep
- Make herbal teas of Valerian. A good herbal tea always warms the heart.
- Sleep in a room that does not exceed 19°.
- Have an early dinner and eat light foods that are easy to digest.
- Do massages to relax your muscles and use a hot water bottle to warm your abdomen to relieve menstrual cramps.
If your pain is too disabling, you can use sleeping pills, take painkillers like doliprane/ Ibuprofen. Always seek medical advice if you are taking medication. Self-medication is definitely not recommended.
FAQ on insomnia during menstruation
How can I sleep during my period?
To help you fall asleep and get a good night's sleep during your period, here are a few tips: go to bed in a room that does not exceed 19°, eat an early and light dinner, encourage stretching, massage and yoga, and avoid screens before going to sleep.
What hormone prevents sleep during menstruation?
The hormones that prevent you from falling asleep during your period are progesterone and estrogen, which drop in the blood, causing a drop in the sleep hormone (melatonin).
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