In order to maintain our health and wellbeing, our bodies require getting enough sleep every day. On average, adults require up to 7-9 hours of sleep. Nevertheless, 51% of the world’s population suffer from lack of sleep. In Malaysia, 9 out of 10 adults have sleep issues. Sleep deprivation is harmful for the body and can jeopardize your normal bodily functions, immune system, mental health and many more.
During menstruation, adequate rest and good sleep quality is important for healing and restoring your energy. However, many women report that it is hard to sleep better during menstruation and achieve good quality sleep. Menstrual pain, feeling of discomfort and hormonal changes are some of the major causes of their disrupted sleep.
In this blog, we will go over some of the common effects that periods cause on your sleep, why having good sleep during menstruation is important and some ways to achieve a better night’s sleep during that time of the month. Read on to learn more.
Effects of Menstruation on Your Sleep:
- Menstrual pain and discomfort
Having periods can be one of the most discomforting things to experience. Menstrual cramps affect many women shortly before and throughout their periods. Not only that, other symptoms of menstruation can also include excessive bloating, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, muscle soreness and much more.
The pain and discomfort faced during periods makes it very difficult to sleep better during menstruation. Hence, many women suffer from restlessness and poor sleep quality during their time of the month.
- Mood swings and irritability
The massive shifts in hormones during your period may cause mood swings and feelings of irritability. An uneasy state of mind caused by stress and irritation makes it hard to fall asleep.
In more serious cases, severe mood swings can also trigger anxiety attacks and depression for those already suffering from these conditions. Depression has been linked to insomnia and is known to change the way one sleeps, causing an irregular sleep pattern.
- Insomnia & disrupted circadian rhythm
A common effect of menstruation that many women suffer from is insomnia. This is because of the big hormonal shifts that occur before and during your periods. There are two primary hormones that fluctuate dramatically in the days leading up to your period, which are Progesterone and Estrogen.
Progesterone is a sedating hormone that aids sleep as it helps you to relax and feel drowsy. The sharp decline of this hormone may be the reason why you might struggle to fall asleep during the first half of your menstruation.
The hormone levels that continue to fluctuate during the second half of your menstruation also causes your body temperature to rise. This rise in temperature will then disrupt your body’s natural sleeping routine, also known as the circadian rhythm.
A disrupted circadian rhythm will also cause other bodily mechanisms, such as the level of melatonin production, to be affected. Melatonin is a sleep hormone that helps to regulate your sleep and a low level of production will make it difficult to fall and stay asleep.
Why good sleep is important during your period:
Getting adequate amounts of rest and good quality sleep during your period is extremely helpful in relieving uncomfortable cramps and discomfort, as well as boosting your overall mood. With sufficient sleep, you are less likely to wake up disgruntled and grumpy. If you sleep better during menstruation and start the day off in a good mood, it can help set the pace for how the rest of your day will turn out.
During your sleep, your body also heals itself and restores all the lost energy from the day before so that you will be able to carry out your daily routines the next day. This is extremely important for menstruating women as their energy levels are easily depleted during their periods.
Ways to Achieve a Better Night’s Sleep When You’re On Your Period:
- Sleep with a weighted blanket
Using a weighted blanket has many benefits for your sleep quality. It is a sensory blanket that uses pressure stimulation to help you fall asleep faster and for longer hours. Sleeping with a weighted blanket can help to combat insomnia, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and many other sleep disorders.
Weighted blankets help give a calming sense and a feeling of being swaddled. This is extremely helpful in calming your mind and body before falling asleep. Weighted blankets are also wonderful tools for reducing stress and increasing serotonin and oxycontin levels in the body. This can help boost your mood, especially during your period.
- Heating pads
One of the most effective ways to combat menstrual discomfort and pain is by using heating pads. For ages, women have been using heat therapy to relieve menstrual pain. Applying heat to the abdomen or lower back can help relax the uterine contractions that are the main cause of period cramps.
Heat therapy has also been found to improve blood circulation which helps to relax tight and constricted muscles. Some forms of heat therapy that you can use aside from heating pads are hot water bottles and heating blankets.
Nowadays, you can also find heating patches that you can stick onto your skin and hide under your clothes in case you are busy and need to go somewhere. For safety purposes, if you are going to use a heat source during your sleep, make sure it is able to shut off or cool down eventually. Sleeping with a heat source for too long while unconscious can be very dangerous for you.
- Do exercises and stretches to relieve period cramps
Doing gentle exercises and stretches during your period has been proven to help decrease pressure in your pelvic regions which can help alleviate menstrual pain. Exercising also releases large amounts of endorphins which help to boost your mood and make you feel more relaxed.
Some exercises you can do to relieve period cramps include yoga, walking, jogging, swimming and light weight training. Doing moderate aerobic exercises has also been found to help increase the likelihood of slow wave sleep. This means you will be able to sleep better during menstruation and stay asleep for much longer.
- Consume melatonin supplements
Melatonin aids in regulating the temperature of your body, blood glucose levels, blood pressure levels, hormone levels and your weight. When it turns dark outside, the level of melatonin in your body increases, which signals to you that it is time for bed.
Many sleep disorders are caused by the lack of this hormone produced. Hence, taking melatonin supplements can help increase the levels of melatonin in your body so that you can fall asleep easier and sleep better during menstruation. Make sure to talk to your doctor for a prescription beforehand.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine is a stimulant that will keep your brain and body awake and alert. A stimulated brain and body will make it harder to fall asleep as you are not in a relaxed state. Drinking caffeine before sleeping can also make you wake up more frequently during the night and increase the sensation of needing to go to the toilet. Its effects might last anywhere from four to six hours and takes roughly 24 hours for it to be completely eradicated from your body.
You will also be more likely to wake up frequently in between sleeps if you consume alcohol before sleeping. The sedative effects of alcohol will start to dissipate after it metabolizes and prevents you from getting a good quality deep sleep. Aside from that, both alcohol and caffeine can constrict your blood vessels, making it harder to sleep better during menstruation and your menstrual cramps much worse.
There are many ways to help relieve your menstrual symptoms for a better sleep quality. Sleeping during your menstruation should not be a painful experience. Don’t let your period keep you awake at night, you deserve a good night’s rest. If your menstrual symptoms are concerning, make sure to reach out to your doctor or OBGYN.
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