Classic pre-menstrual and menstrual issues—such as headaches, cramping, bloating, and anxiety—can prevent a restful night’s sleep for somewhat obvious reasons: Pain and discomfort make it difficult to sleep well!
And, it’s an unpleasant cycle. Lack of sleep can lower your pain threshold. This unfortunate pattern leaves many women tired and uncomfortable in the days before and in the days during their monthly periods. There are even additional, subtler ways that sleep can be harmed by the menstrual cycle. Biological changes like shifts in hormone levels can lead to increased core body temperature.
Luckily, you can get ahead of—and minimize—many of these issues if you stick to some good daily habits and are mindful of what you are eating, drinking, and feeling. Try these tips to help you get the sleep that you need, especially around your period.
1. Keep Your Bedroom Cool
Body temperature matters. You can help keep your core temperature close to its regular zone (even when it typically increases thanks to menstrual hormone shifts), so you can stay comfortable. Put the thermostat between 60 and 67 degrees in the bedroom.
2. Move to Boost Mood
Don’t skip the gym! Around the time of their periods, many women feel anxious or depressed, and these are feelings that can disrupt sleep. Natural ways to alleviate these symptoms include physical exercise, such as running, practicing yoga, or playing tennis, as well as any healthy activity that you find relaxing, such as meditation, deep breathing, or journaling.
3. Eat Lightly
Menstrual symptoms can include intestinal unrest such as nausea, diarrhea, and indigestion. While it is tempting to eat fatty foods or treats in the evening, it’s best to stick to leaner, less heavy foods that are less inclined to exacerbate digestive problems.
4. Get Comfortable
Achy muscles and cramping associated with periods can make you restless. Experiment with different sleeping positions (such as sleeping on your side or your back instead of your stomach) or using extra pillows to help your body get comfortable.
5. Keep Fixed Bedtimes and Wake times
When you go to bed at a similar time each night, including weekends, you give your body ample opportunity to anticipate and prepare for sleep. You will feel sleepy and wakeful at the same times each day. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule and your body is less likely to be thrown out of whack by menstrual symptoms.