Updated at: 03-01-2022 - By: Jane Brody

Insomnia is a prevalent problem in the United States, with up to 35 percent of adults suffering symptoms. Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle may be a contributing factor in women’s insomnia.

Women often experience physical and mental changes, as well as alterations in hormone production, in the days leading up to their period. Premenstrual syndrome can occur for a variety of reasons, some of which are minor for the majority of women (PMS). Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) can be caused by significant symptoms (PMDD).

Sleep deprivation is common in women with PMS and PMDD, and even those with milder symptoms may be exhausted or experience sleeplessness in the days leading up to their period.

Because sleep is so crucial for physical and mental health, it’s important to know about the menstrual cycle and sleep and how to best sleep during your period.

Basics of the Menstrual Cycle

While every woman’s menstrual cycle is unique, the average cycle lasts 28 days, during which time hormone levels such as estrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone rise and fall, causing changes in the body.

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What Are the Stages of the Menstrual Cycle?

The four stages of the menstrual cycle are:

  1. Menstrual phase: During the first day of monthly bleeding, which is commonly referred to as “period,” you enter this phase. To prepare for a pregnancy, the uterus’s lining grows thicker during this time. For the most part, it lasts for roughly five days
  2. Follicular phase: On the first day of your menstruation, an egg cell begins to form inside an ovarian follicle. This process normally lasts 13 days.
  3. Ovulation phase: The ovary releases a mature egg during the ovulation period. This usually occurs on day 14 of a 28-day cycle.
  4. Luteal phase: About two weeks following ovulation, you’ll enter this stage. During the luteal phase, a woman’s menstruation marks the beginning of her new cycle.

It’s common for some sources to describe the menstrual cycle as having only three phases, and menstrual days are considered part of the follicular phase.

How Do Hormones Change During the Menstrual Cycle?

Changes in hormone production trigger each stage of the menstrual cycle. While estrogen and progesterone levels rise during the follicular and ovulation phases, these hormones decline significantly during the final days of the luteal phase if pregnancy is unsuccessful.

They don’t simply affect the ovaries and uterus; they have far-reaching effects throughout the body. The drop in estrogen and progesterone in the days leading up to your period can have a physical and emotional impact on how you feel.

Physical and Emotional Changes Before Your Period

In the days leading up to their period, around 90% of women say they experience some kind of physical or emotional shift. Some examples of modifications include:

  • The feeling of being bloated or gassy.
  • Breasts that are tender or swollen.
  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • Cramps.
  • Headache.
  • Clumsiness.
  • Noise and light sensitivity.
  • Reduced ability to focus and remember details.
  • Fatigue.
  • Mood swings, sadness, impatience, and apprehension.
  • Sex urge is changing.
  • Getting too much or too little sleep, depending on your preference.
  • Changes in appetite.

There is a wide range of time between the onset of these symptoms and the start of your menstruation. Depending on when your period starts, these cramps may go away quickly or persist for a few days.

Most women notice very minor changes in their bodies just before their period. Changes in both type and severity can occur at any point in time and across menstrual cycles.

What Is PMS?

In the days leading up to your period, you may experience a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms known as PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome). The severity of PMS varies, however some women with PMS feel that the symptoms interfere with their everyday routines and activities.

What Is PMDD?

The more severe premenstrual dysphoric disorder has at least five symptoms, including significant changes in mood and emotional health. PMDD can lead to increased difficulties at work, school, or in personal and familial relationships.

How Common Are PMS and PMDD?

As many as 12 percent of women are reported to suffer from PMS, and in most cases, the symptoms are mild. About 1% to 5% of women are thought to suffer from PMDD.

A woman’s chance of experiencing PMS or PMDD increases or decreases during the course of her life. The most severe symptoms often appear in the late 30s and early 40s, when they are more common in people in their late 20s to late 40s.

During some menstrual cycles, women may experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Nearly 75% of women, according to some estimates, may experience symptoms similar to PMS at some point in their lives.

What Causes PMS?

We don’t know what causes PMS. Experts don’t know for sure why some women experience more severe symptoms, despite the fact that hormone levels are widely believed to be a factor.

Changing levels of hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen, can have a variety of effects on a woman’s health. Metabolic and other hormone-regulating systems may have a role in this phenomenon. One possible reason is a deficiency in serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in signal transmission across the brain and nervous system. A deficiency in calcium or magnesium may also play a role in the development of osteoporosis.

How Does PMS Affect Sleep?

Sleep disturbances are a common side effect of PMS. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is associated with an increased risk of sleeplessness in women. Women who suffer from sleep deprivation are more likely to be groggy and sluggish during their period.

It’s possible that PMS will lead you to sleep more than usual. Oversleeping can be a result of a variety of factors, including menstrual cycle fatigue and sadness (hypersomnia).

As many as 70% of women with premenstrual dysphoria (PMDD) experience insomnia-like symptoms before their period, and an overwhelming majority (more than 80%) report feeling exhausted at this time.

Why Does PMS Affect Sleep?

Researchers aren’t entirely sure why PMS disrupts sleep, but studies have discovered some possible causes.

Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle may cause women with PMS to have difficulties falling asleep and more frequent sleep disturbances. The late luteal phase (PMS) has been reported to have a negative impact on sleep compared to other periods of the menstrual cycle, as many studies have indicated.

The body’s temperature and the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin may be harmed by the hormonal changes that occur before and during menstruation. As progesterone levels rise after ovulation and continue to rise until the late luteal phase, the body’s temperature rises, which can disrupt sleep. Melatonin, a hormone that regulates the body’s circadian rhythm and sleep patterns, is altered during the menstrual cycle, according to certain studies.

The results of several research have been mixed, but it has been suggested that women who suffer from PMS have altered sleep architecture, meaning that their sleep cycle is disrupted in some way. During the late-luteal phase, for example, it has been discovered that certain women have less rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep is connected with vivid dreams because of the high levels of brain activity that take place during this stage of the sleep cycle. Even if you don’t have PMS, your sleep patterns may be altered.

Hormone variations that are more rapid in some women before their period have been linked to disturbed sleep, according to a study. One possible explanation for the wide range of premenstrual sleep disorders is that they are caused not only by the altering hormones themselves but also by the rate at which the hormones change.

When it comes to pre-period sleep difficulties, it’s crucial to consider mood shifts as well. Anxiety and depression, both of which are linked to insomnia, can be exacerbated by PMS. Mood swings can often make women think they’re having trouble falling asleep or waking up feeling rested.

As many as 14% of women suffer from heavy menstrual cycles that cause considerable blood loss. These women may have increased anxiety and worry about sleeping through the night or having an accident that would ruin their sheets or mattress because they have to get out of bed to change sanitary products.

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Better Sleep Before, During, and After Your Period

Insomnia is prevalent during the menstrual cycle, but there are things you can take to improve your sleep no matter what stage you’re in.

Sleep Hygiene

Healthful sleep hygiene is a popular way to sleep well. By improving your sleep habits, routines, and environment, you’re ensuring that you’re able to receive the rest you require.

You may improve your quality of sleep by adhering to a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule, avoiding caffeine, exposing yourself to natural light, and creating a calming nighttime routine.

It’s a good idea to start thinking about good sleep habits even before your period arrives as a preventative strategy. Even if sleep hygiene doesn’t cure all of your PMS-related sleep issues, it can help you maintain a regular sleep schedule and provide you with strategies for avoiding insomnia and falling asleep fast.

Before Your Period

In the days leading up to your menstruation, insomnia is most frequent. Regular exercise, a good diet, relaxation techniques, and drinking lots of water are just a few of the PMS-management strategies that may help alleviate symptoms and make them simpler to manage.

Also indicated for more severe symptoms of PMS and PMDD are drugs and nutritional supplements, which may help improve sleep.

PDD patients may benefit from light treatment, which involves using strong light to change the body’s circadian cycle.

Talking to a doctor about the pros and cons of various treatments can help any woman dealing with PMS symptoms, including sleep issues, make an informed decision about the best option for their circumstances.

During and After Your Period

Many women find that their PMS symptoms reduce or disappear within a day or two of their period starting. Continuing treatment for PMS throughout menstruation may be necessary if the symptoms persist.

Absorbent pads developed for overnight use may be beneficial for women who have heavy periods or are concerned about bleeding in the middle of the night. Women who are concerned about stains on their mattresses may benefit from the use of a mattress pad or protector.

For those who are experiencing less severe symptoms of PMS, this is a good time to revisit healthy sleep practices that can help ensure regular, restful slumber and lessen the effects of the menstrual cycle.

Perimenopause and insomnia

Perimenopausal women experience irregular menstrual cycles due to the frequent fluctuations in their hormone levels that accompany this stage of life. Overheating can result in uncomfortable symptoms such as night sweats and hot flushes. At night, this may disturb your sleep.

How to deal with PMS insomnia

Keep a log of your symptoms for a few months to see if your insomnia is linked to your menstruation cycle. Menstrual cycles are a good indicator of how you’re feeling each day.

This will allow you to determine if your sleep issues are related to your period. It also means that if you’re talking to a doctor, you have a list of symptoms to refer to.

Here are a few pointers for coping with PMS-related insomnia:

  • When your menstruation is coming, make an effort to get extra rest and shut-eye the days running up to it.
  • Exercise more.
  • Make an effort to spend more time in the sun before and during your menstrual cycle.
  • Make sure you’re eating well.
  • Salt and sugar should be cut back on, while calcium-rich foods should be increased.
  • Take a break from drinking and smoking.
  • The melatonin levels of certain women who suffer from PMS may be too low. Consult your physician before beginning a melatonin regimen.
  • Take it easy on yourself if you’re having trouble getting to sleep. Keep in mind that this is just a phase and that things will get better once your cycle is done.

Also, try several forms of relaxation therapy. Included in this are the following:

  • Exercises to help you relax your mind and body.
  • Yoga.
  • Meditation.
  • Massages.
  • Biofeedback. Sensors are used to teach you how to manage your body’s involuntary activities.
  • Self-hypnosis.

FAQs

Is it normal to get insomnia before your period?

Most women report changes in their sleep patterns before their menstruation comes. This normally begins 3 to 6 days before the start of their period. Premenstrual syndrome may manifest itself solely in a woman’s inability to sleep (PMS).

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In the United States, between 20% and 40% of women report having symptoms of PMS. Severe symptoms affect 3% to 8% of people. The premenstrual dysphoric disorder is the medical term for this (PMDD).

Other symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome include emotional reactions, such as:

  • Anxiety.
  • Confusion.
  • Irritability.
  • Outbursts of rage.
  • Depression.
  • Withdrawal from social interactions.
  • Sexual desire can change throughout time.
  • Napping for longer periods of time.
  • Crying fits.‌

Among the physical symptoms are:

  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Constipation.
  • Bloating and weight gain.
  • Breast discomfort.
  • Food-related compulsions.
  • Problems with the skin.

Why does PMS give you insomnia?

Insomnia affects women 1.25 times more frequently than it does males, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This could be because of the fluctuations in hormone levels that occur during menstruation.

Hormonal shifts are a common cause of this. Estrogen and progesterone are the two primary hormones that govern your menstrual cycle.

Your progesterone levels rise the week before your menstruation. Pregnancy can cause your body to go into overdrive. However, your progesterone levels will plummet if you do not become pregnant. The lining of your uterus is lost as a result of this, causing your period to begin.

Progesterone has a calming impact on the body and mind. Insomnia may be the result of a sudden reduction in progesterone levels before your menstruation.

Temperatures fluctuate in the body.

When you sleep, your body temperature rises and falls. As you get ready to go to sleep, your body temperature begins to fall. As your core temperature decreases, you’re able to progress deeper into a sounder sleep.

The temperature of your internal organs fluctuates during the course of your menstrual cycle. After ovulation, your temperature rises by 0.3 to 0.7 degrees Celsius, and it stays that way until your menstruation begins.

When you return to your normal temperature, your body temperature returns to normal. Sleep disturbances are possible if your body temperature rises in the days leading up to your period.

Ovarian polycystic ovulation (PCOS).

It is possible to have irregular menstrual cycles, low progesterone levels, and high testosterone levels if you have the polycystic ovarian syndrome. As a result, your sleep problems may get worse.

PCOS has also been linked to an increased risk of sleep apnea, according to some research. During slumber, you may cease breathing for a few seconds at a time.

As many as 400 of these brief pauses in breathing may occur during the night. But even if they may not wake you up, they may still disrupt your sleep. The following are examples of signs and symptoms:

  • Drowsy in the middle of the day
  • Fatigue.
  • Irritability.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Morning headaches.
  • There is less of a desire for sexual relations.
  • The state of mind shifts.
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