many women don’t need to look at a calendar or open an app to know that their period is approaching, thanks to telltale signs like bloating, breast tenderness, and moodiness. instead, they don’t feel refreshed after sleep, or they need more sleep than usual to feel well-rested. and if their pms is severe, especially if it affects their mood, they “are more apt to have insomnia as well as sleepiness during the day,” sleep physiologist fiona baker, phd. women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (pmdd), which is similar to pms but causes more serious anxiety or depression for a week or two leading up to your period, have the worst luck with sleep as they near “that time of the month.” as many as 70% of women with pmdd have insomnia symptoms before their period. but a poor night of sleep might also mess with your mood the next day. “it’s more that what we’re measuring [in the lab] isn’t quite picking up what someone is feeling.” if you have sleep changes before your period, there’s an excellent chance that shifting hormone levels have something to do with it.
so as your period nears – anywhere from 2 weeks to a few days before – you reach a point when progesterone is higher than estrogen. for women who are more sensitive to hormonal shifts, the impact on sleep can be significant. one theory is that not having enough serotonin as your period nears contributes to pms symptoms like premenstrual depression and food cravings, as well as fatigue and sleep problems. because body temperature naturally dips a bit before and during sleep, running a bit hotter than usual might make it harder to fall asleep or sleep well throughout the night. nowakowski recommends cutting back on salt and sugar (which is inflammatory) in an effort to reduce bloating. talk to your doctor. if your main challenge is sleep – and practicing basic sleep hygiene measures like going to bed and waking up at the same time every day isn’t helping – you might also consider cbt-i, which is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that focuses on changing thoughts and behaviors that are driving your sleep problems.
on top of headaches, acne, and cramps, your “special” time of the month may also bring some weirdness to your sleep cycle. dr. hernandez-rey stresses that there’s a lot of mystery surrounding how exactly the hormonal cycle does this, and it may vary for different women. in addition to your rising progesterone level, “you’ll have drops in melatonin and cortisol levels,” he explains, “and that dysregulation is one of the reasons you might have insomnia.” both melatonin and cortisol play huge roles in your sleep-wake cycle. drinking coffee the next day when you’re tired can actually then make this effect worse because it suppresses your body’s response to cortisol, meaning you’re working against your natural alertness and might not actually feel that much more energized. your period”when you get your period, you have drops in estrogen and progesterone levels,” dr. hernandez-rey explains, “and that throws off your sleep cycle as well.”
and of course, getting to sleep can definitely be a challenge if you’re also dealing with cramps or any holdover stress from your pms phase. however, as estrogen begins to build up again towards ovulation, you may begin to feel thrown off. and because estrogen can (paradoxically) act as an excitatory hormone, you may start to feel out of whack. so, right at and just before ovulation, dr. hernandez-rey says we may start to feel some insomnia. but if that’s not an option for you, you can work with your doctor to find the perfect snoozing solution. “regardless of where you are in your cycle, if you go out drinking on a saturday night, you may suffer from insomnia.”
it rises slightly after ovulation and remains up until you get your period again (as long as you’re not pregnant). because body temperature right after ovulation is when you’ll probably feel the biggest changes that dysregulation is one of the reasons you might have insomnia. day 8 to ovulation (which is day 14 in a 28-day cycle) can trigger bouts of insomnia as it reduces levels of serotonin in the brain., .
estrogen induces this biological excitement, partially so the body can become pregnant. this excitement or increased level of energy in the body may naturally lead to insomnia the nights leading up to, and the night of ovulation. ovulation itself isn’t known to cause insomnia, however, insomnia during pms or during a period is common. the exact timing can vary hormonal changes before and during menstruation may harm sleep through effects on body temperature and melatonin production. progesterone, which research suggests that near ovulation women tend to consume fewer calories and engage in more physical activity; they are judged to be more, .
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