Why Don't I Sleep as Well on My Period?

Why Don't I Sleep as Well on My Period?

The symptoms read like a Pepto Bismol ad: heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach diarrhea, and what makes it even worse is that there’s even more to contend with like cramps, bloating, and a general feeling of “bleh.” Despite feeling exhausted every day you’re on it, trying to sleep on your period seems like an endeavor in futility. While the reasons why seem endless, narrowing a couple of them down can help to combat the beast that is sleeping on your period. 

Fluctuating Hormones

As anyone who has experienced PMS induced mood swings knows, hormonal changes during that time of the month can be brutal. When it comes to your sleep, however, you can blame progesterone. In the week leading up to your period, your levels of progesterone rise in anticipation of conceiving. If you don’t conceive, then your progesterone levels drop and this dramatic dropoff can negatively affect your quality of sleep as it makes nodding off to begin with more difficult. Estrogen plays a role too by affecting your body temperature. Your body temperature can increase by as much as a degree and if your estrogen levels are particularly low, then you can begin to experience hot flashes and night sweats in similar symptoms to menopause. 


When it comes to trying to mitigate the effects of hormonal changes, the methods of doing so are not always the most simple. Perhaps the most notable way of implementing change in terms of hormones is by means of hormonal birth control. Hormonal birth control delivers hormones in steady doses which can make hormone levels more predictable and effectively make your symptoms less severe. It can make your periods more regular, lighten your flow, and lessen the discomfort of cramps. While it is a more extreme measure of mitigating the symptoms of your period and PMS, it helps with the regulation of your hormones and make them more regular. 

Making a Mess

For those of us with a particularly heavy cycle, the mess your period can make is enough to keep you up at night. While during the day doubling up on period products can be helpful such as wearing a pad and a tampon at the same time, this is not advisable at night as wearing a tampon for over eight hours puts you at risk for developing toxic shock syndrome (TSS). The thought of relying only on a pad can be nerve wracking because most of us can recognize that a pad alone is rarely enough to combat a heavy flow especially overnight. Thankfully, you are not relegated to just a pad when trying to get some sleep while dealing with a heavy period. 

There are other products that can be helpful when it comes to keeping a heavy flow at bay. For instance, menstrual cups are an excellent alternative to tampons when it comes to preventing a mess overnight. Menstrual cups are made from silicone and are cups that collect menstrual blood as opposed to cotton tampons that absorb menstrual blood. If kept in too long, the cotton tampon can become a breeding ground for bacteria leaving you susceptible to contracting TSS, but this risk can be avoided altogether by replacing your tampon with a menstrual cup. Additionally, reusable period underwear can be used as a replacement for your pad if you wish to double up on your menstrual products without the uncomfortable shifting and chafing of a typical disposable pad. 


If you’re still concerned about making a mess of your bed and/or don’t want to double up on menstrual products, delegating a certain towel or two in your linen closet to be your “monthly” towels can be a useful aid in saving your sheets during a particularly rough cycle. While it may not always be as comfortable as laying on your soft sheets, if you do end up with some overflow in the middle of the night it is much easier and less of a hassle to replace a towel as opposed to replacing your sheets. 

You Just Can’t Get Comfortable 

Sometimes finding the right sleep position can be difficult, but your level of discomfort can skyrocket on your period. From bloating to cramping to that ever persistent headache that won’t seem to go away, it can be incredibly difficult to try and find a comfortable position when the symptoms of your period interfere. Even though it may seem impossible, there are ways to combat these irritants and sleep more soundly even while on your period. 


When it comes to figuring out the right sleeping position when on your period, the first step is to identify what exactly is uncomfortable for you. For instance, if you’re feeling particularly bloated, then sleeping on your stomach likely won’t be the best option for you. If you’re having pain in your lower back, then sleeping on our side with a pillow between your legs or on your pack with a thin pillow under your knees can help alleviate the pain. 


Additionally, if a particularly nasty headache is bothering you, consider looking for medications that contain acetaminophen, aspirin, and diphenhydramine. The combination of acetaminophen and aspirin will work in the same way as an extra strength Excedrin would, but without the jittery feeling of its caffeine content. Diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl, will act as a sleep aid so you can not only beat your headache but drift off easier as well. If you really want to nip your headache in the bud, then try throwing your Nodpod sleep mask in the freezer to help with headache in migraine relief while you wait for any medication you may take to kick in. 

Key Takeaways

Being on your period is no picnic and the effects it can have on the body can wreak havoc on your sleep. From general discomfort to hormonal fluctuations to the fear of leaking, there are a number of reasons why your period can negatively impact your sleep. Taking the proper steps to account for these different symptoms is imperative to getting a good night’s sleep even when on your period. Determining the optimal sleep position to accommodate your cramps and properly looking after your headache pain can be just enough to get yourself to sleep. If these problems persist on a regular basis, however, it could be worthwhile to look into hormonal birth control as a means of regulating your hormones and make your cycle more predictable. If this sounds like a viable option for you, be sure to consult your doctor. 

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