What to do about insomnia before and during periods ?

During a survey on our Instagram community, we realized that a large proportion of respondents suffered from insomnia before and during their periods. Let's decipher together why periods prevent so many women (65% of those surveyed) from sleeping? 


Is it normal to suffer from insomnia during periods ?

Insomnia and periods go hand in hand for almost two thirds of our community. disorders periods particularly PMS. A study carried out by the National Sleep Foundation shows that 23% of those surveyed experience restless sleep one week before lthe arrival of periods (thanks to Premenstrual Syndrome aka PMS), and 30% are unable to fall asleep easily during periods. 

The same study shows that REM sleep lasts for less time up to 10 days before periods. The deep sleep phase, which is the most restorative , is shorter. It's normal to have less restful sleep, restless nights and difficulty falling asleep sduring the periods period.

Why is insomnia linked to periods ?

The culprit behind insomnia during periods is called "hormones", and more specifically "progesterone and estrogen". During the ovulatory period, hormone production rises sharply, before dropping off rapidly in the luteal phase. The woman's body then goes into turmoil, and a number of symptoms appear that are more or less easy to cope with: sensitivity, negative emotions, anxiety, headaches, stomach aches, etc. Progesterone, a hormone that is very present during the first trimester of pregnancy, is present in very low quantities in the body during the periods period. Falling asleep will therefore be more difficult.

Lower hormone levels

Hormone variations during the menstrual cycle menstrual cycle are the result of the body preparing for a possible pregnancy.

Estrogens (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 periods the body secretes FSH , which stimulates the ovaries.
  • FSH promotes oestrogen secretion and the maturation of an ovum
  • During the ovulatory phase, the brain secretes LH to allow evolution to take place.
  • The ovary then secretes progesterone , which thickens the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium), preparing it to receive the fertilized egg.
  • Falling blood levels of progesterone and estrogen trigger periods through endometrial bleeding.

Increased body heat

The drop in progesterone and the rise in body temperature during this phase of the menstrual cycle make for restless sleep, with bodies feeling hot and sweaty. In fact, during the luteal phase, body temperature rises by 3 to 5 tenths of a degree. Although very slight, these variations prevent a good night's sleep. This is in contrast to the other phases of the cycle, when the body is cooler at bedtime, making it easier to fall asleep.

Other physical factors

A number of other symptoms can lead to insomnia before and during periods. They are linked to premenstrual syndrome (PMS):

  • Migraines and headaches
  • Sore, tender breasts
  • Nausea, diarrhea, constipation and bloating are digestive disorders that can make it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Stomach ache, pelvic pain such as cramps in the lower abdomen
  • A fatigue during periodsor general tiredness and aches that suggest a flu-like condition. 
  • Endometriosis and adenomyosis cause severe pain


To these discomforts, s'add the inconvenience of ill-fitting, insufficiently absorbent sanitary pads, and the fear of leakage or blood stains. Many women (40% of those surveyed) even have to get out of bed in the middle of the night to change their sanitary pads. So many annoyances that keep women awake at night, causing nightmares.

What factors can aggravate insomnia before and during periods ?

To limit lthe impact of hormones and promote restful sleep, we recommend that you avoid :

    • Sleeping on the stomach compresses the uterus and causes abdominal pain stomach pains during periods. Blood flow increases the amount of bleeding
    • Taking hot baths or showers increases body temperature.
    • Drink stimulating beverages after 4 p.m.: tea, coffee, cola, energy drinks, which take effect 2 to 4 hours after consumption.
    • Take part in sporting activities after 7pm. Sport increases heart rate and body temperature. Physical activity also triggers a release of adrenalin, which makes you wakeful and causes insomnia.
    • Using screens when it's getting dark and the body is preparing for bedtime is not compatible. In fact, artificial light (blue light) is different from daylight and can disrupt the biological clock, delaying sleep. In fact, it reduces melatonin, the sleep hormone.
    • Wear sanitary protection not adapted to its flow.

How can you sleep better and avoid sleep disorders linked to periods ?

Here are a few tips to help you fall asleep or improve the quality of deep sleep

  • Use a period pants for heavy flows to avoid staining sheets or changing during the night.
  • Engage in gentle physical activity to release hormones that promote well-being and relaxation. Yoga and walking are gentle sports to be encouraged.
  • Take a hot bath an 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, remember.... positive thoughts.
  • Herbal medicine can help you get a good night's sleep
  • Make Valerian infusions. A good herbal tea always warms the heart.
  • Sleep in a room no warmer than 19°.
  • Dine early and eat light , easily digestible foods .
  • Massage to relax your muscles and use a hot water bottle to warm your abdomen to relieve menstrual cramps.

If your pain is too incapacitating, you can use sleeping pills or take painkillers such as doliprane/ Ibuprofen. Always seek medical advice if you are taking medication. Self-medication is definitely not recommended.


Insomnia during pregnancy FAQ periods

How do you sleep when you have your periods ?

To help you lfall asleep and get a good night's sleep at periods, here are a few tips: go to bed in a room no warmer than 19°C, eat an early, light dinner, encourage stretching, massage and yoga, and avoid screens before bedtime.

What hormone keeps you awake at periods ?

The hormones that prevent you from falling asleep during periods are progesterone and estrogen, which drop in the bloodstream, causing a drop in the sleep hormone melatonin.


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