How to Sleep when on Your Period

Four Methods:Using Home RemediesUsing Diet and NutritionHelping Yourself Sleep BetterUnderstanding Period Insomnia

Every 28 days or so, you may have problems sleeping, also known as insomnia, due to your period. This is a common problem that can be caused by hormones, bodily changes, and increased body temperature. If you find yourself having trouble while on your period, there are ways to help yourself sleep.

Method 1
Using Home Remedies

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    Determine changes in your sleep pattern. If you suffer from sleeplessness during each of your periods, you can determine what specific symptoms keep you up each month. Since your period symptoms are what cause you to lose sleep, treating them will help you sleep better while on your period. What approach you take will vary depending on what is causing your insomnia. In order to decide what is causing your insomnia, pay attention to the things that keep you up or wakes you up.
    • Notice if you have pain, if you are anxious, or if you are just generally restless. It can help you figure out which technique to use.
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    Exercise. One of the best ways to combat period symptoms is exercise. The release of endorphins help reduce cramps, relieve additional pain, reduce anxiety, and make you sleep better. Aim for a 30 minute workout during the days leading up to and during the first few days of your period.
    • Don’t work out too close to bedtime. This can cause a spike in energy levels, which will have the reverse effect too late in the day.[1]
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    Use a hot water bottle. When your cramps are extremely bad or if you suffer from lower back pain during your period, heating the area may help your pain so you can sleep. It can also help reduce swelling and inflammation associated with period bloating, which may make it uncomfortable to sleep. [2] Cover the area with a towel or cloth, then place a hot water bottle or heating pad on the area that hurts the most.
    • If you use a heating pad, do not leave it on high or apply it for more than 20 minutes at a time. It can burn your skin or cause irritation.[3]
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    Try acupuncture. Acupuncture, which involves a series of thin needles being inserted into strategic points on your body, helps relieve pain. It may help with cramping, tension, and lower back pain associated with your period, which may make it impossible to sleep.[4]
    • Try scheduling an appointment with a trained acupuncturist later in the day so the paint relieving effects will help you get to sleep easier.

Method 2
Using Diet and Nutrition

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    Increase your omega-3 fats. If menstrual cramps are keeping you up at night, you can increase your intake of omega-3 fats during the day to help reduce your cramps at night. Omega-3 fats help with inflammation and, since cramping is helped with decreased inflammation, it can help lessen this period symptom. Incorporate more foods with omega-3s, such as:
    • Nuts and seeds, such as flaxseeds, butternuts, walnuts, and chia seeds
    • Nut oils, such as walnut or flaxseed oil
    • Fish, such as salmon, whitefish, sardines, shad, and mackerel
    • Herbs and spices, such as oregano, cloves, basil, and marjoram
    • Vegetables, such as sprouted radish seeds, Chinese broccoli, and spinach[5]
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    Get more vitamin D. If anxiety or restlessness are common occurrences during your period, increase your intake of vitamin D. It also helps inflammation. The best way to get vitamin D is through skin exposure. Take 10 to 15 minutes of your day and expose your bare skin to sunlight, which will trigger natural vitamin D production in your body.
    • If you can't get enough through sun, try to eat more foods with vitamin D, such as cod liver oil, tuna, salmon, mackerel, cheese, yogurt, and milk. These can be extremely helpful during winter months when you get less natural sun exposure.[6]
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    Take supplements. There are a number of supplements that can help you with your cramps as well as anxiety and restlessness associated with periods. Always check the dosing information and possible interactions with your doctor or gynecologist before starting a supplement regiment. Common supplements that are helpful for period symptoms that can cause insomnia include:
    • Omega-3 fats (fish oil). Take at least 1000 to 1500 mgs of omega-3 supplements a day to help cramps.
    • Magnesium. Deficiencies of this mineral may cause worse cramps, so start taking 360 mg of magnesium per day for the three days before your period starts to help lower the chance of painful cramps.[7]
    • Calcium. Like magnesium, deficiencies may cause more intense cramps. Take 500 to 1000 mg daily before your period starts to reduce cramping and overall period pain, which will help you sleep.[8][9]
    • Vitamin D. In addition to food and sunlight, you can take a supplement. This helps reduce anxiety and inflammation. Take at least 400 to 1000 IU per day.[10][11]
    • Vitamin C. Cramps can be improved by taking 100 mg doses of vitamin C at a time.[12]
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    Use over the counter pain relievers. If pain is keeping you up at night, try using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIS), which are over the counter pain relievers. These may have cause stomach irritation if taken too much or without food, so take them with a light snack, such as a banana, close to bed time. This will help ensure the pain relief will last through the night so you can sleep.
    • NSAIDs include medicines such as aspirin (Bayer), naproxen (Aleve), and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin).
    • Follow the dosage instructions on the bottle. The amount varies depending on the type of medication you use.[13]
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    Use herbal remedies. There are some herbs that can be used to help treat the underlying causes of period symptoms, which can help you sleep better at night. These come in a variety of forms, including dried herbs and supplements. These herbs include:
    • Cramp bark, which helps relieve cramps. Make it into a tea, steeping one to two tsp of dried cramp bark into a mug of hot water for ten to fifteen minutes. Start drinking these teas two to three days before your period starts to get the best effects. [14][15]
    • Chasteberry, also known as vitex-agnus castus, which stabilizes your hormones. Take 20 to 40 mg tablets each day before breakfast. Consult your doctor before using this one if you are on birth control because it can have adverse effects.[16]
    • Black cohosh, which may reduce cramping, tension, and other common period symptoms. Take 20 to 40 mg tablets twice a day.
    • Chamomile, which helps reduce anxiety and calms you down. Steep one to two tsp of dried chamomile or a bagged chamomile tea in a cup of hot water for ten to fifteen minutes.[17]

Method 3
Helping Yourself Sleep Better

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    Practice proper sleep hygiene. After you treat your period symptoms, there are some other ways that you can improve your sleep hygiene, which is the things you do to get proper sleep. Good ways to improve your sleep hygiene are:
    • Using your bed only for bed activities, such as sleep and sexual activity, and avoiding watching TV and reading
    • Avoiding caffeine after noon
    • Eating only light, easily digestible food within two hours of going to bed, or avoiding food all together
    • Sticking to relaxing activities instead of stimulating activities such as exercise[18]
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    Relax. During your period, you may find yourself irritated or restless. Not properly unwinding or relaxing before bed can cause you to have insomnia, which is made worse by anxious feeling caused by your change in hormones. In the hour or two before bed, try to make yourself relax. Common ways to do this are:
    • Do something you love that’s relaxing, such as read a book, listen to music, or sit outside
    • Try relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises[19]
    • Perform progressive muscle relaxation, which is a technique where you tense then relax every muscle in your body in order calm yourself and sleep better[20]
    • Use positive visualization, where you imagine your happy place in order to decrease anxiety and worry about the future[21]
    • Take a hot shower to release tension and relax your muscles, which can help cramping and bloating
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    Improve your sleep environment. Having an uncomfortable bed or bedroom can cause insomnia, especially if you are already on edge from hormonal changes due to your period. Your body temperature may also increase due to these changes, so you might have to change your bedding during this time of the month. Make sure your comforter, blanket, and sheets are soft, comfortable, and provide enough heat or cool for you to sleep.
    • This will vary depending on the year, temperature control in your room, and stage of your period, so try different configurations to see what is best for you.[22]
    • Try using a body pillow while you sleep to help with muscle pain. They help take tension off your muscles.
    • This applies to your bed clothing as well. Wear breathable fabrics such as cotton or linen.

Method 4
Understanding Period Insomnia

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    Learn about the hormones. Part of the reason you may be unable to sleep is hormones. During your menstrual cycle, your levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone fluctuate in specific ways and cause insomnia. This is especially true during the time right before your period.[23][24][25]
    • Excessive sleeplessness during or right before your period may also be a sign of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), a condition more severe than Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) that most women suffer.[26][27]
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    Recognize period symptoms. There are certain symptoms you may experience during your period that may cause sleeplessness. During your period, you may be bloated or experience cramping, which can aggravate you enough to keep you awake. You may also suffer from headaches, nausea, an upset stomach, and increased body heat.
    • Psychological symptoms of your period may also include depression, anxiety, crying, and irritability, which may also cause you to have trouble sleeping.[28]
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    See your doctor. If you find that you have many nights of sleeplessness or that it happens every period, see your doctor. She may be able to help you figure out is there is an underlying problem or figure out additional medical options that might help you sleep better while on your period.
    • You should also talk to your doctor about any medications that you take that might be causing insomnia or make your period symptoms worse[29]

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