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Period Insomnia: Everything You Need to Know

No matter how emotionally stable you may be, losing sleep can turn you into a heap of big emotions, not to mention you’ll feel tired, unhealthy, and irritable. While it’s normal to miss sleep from time to time, missing sleep for consecutive days in a row can take a major toll on your body.

If it seems as though you can’t sleep when you’re on your period, you’re not alone. 30% of women find it more difficult to sleep during their periods, and 23 percent find it difficult to sleep the week before their periods even begin. 

Rael knows that without sleep, you aren’t on top of your game. That’s why we compiled the research and have everything you need to know about why period insomnia happens and what you can do to combat it. If you’re tired of not sleeping, we’ve got some tried and true methods to help you get back into the sleep game fast. 

What’s The Big Deal About Sleep?

In today’s fast-paced economy, it can seem like sleep takes a backseat to deadlines, social events, and practically anything else we can cram into our schedules. However, miss just a single night of sleep and you can tell: it matters. 

Sleeping is a critical time for your body and brain. Your brain restores, recharges, and rests during sleep, and your body uses this essential function to heal itself. Your skin, for instance, does the majority of its rebuilding, healing, and restructuring during the hours you are asleep. 

Sleep also helps keep your body functioning properly and helps protect against disease. Not getting adequate sleep directly correlates with increased chances of becoming sick, even if it’s just with a minor cold.  

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The old standard has always been eight hours, but that's not a one-size-fits-all sleep solution. Depending on your age and activity level, you might need more or less. For instance, if you are extremely physically active, you’ll need more sleep to allow your muscles time to heal and repair after you exercise. 

If you have a more sedentary lifestyle, you may require less sleep than others. During different phases of life, you’ll need more sleep. For instance, during puberty, you’ll need closer to nine hours of sleep, while you’ll need less as an adult, and even less after age 65.

What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep

It’s more than just feeling tired; not getting enough sleep has detrimental effects on your body and mind. You’ll also place yourself at a much higher risk of developing diseases and conditions that could be preventable by getting enough sleep. Some of the conditions most closely related to insomnia are:

  • Insulin resistance. When you are deprived of sleep, it’s harder for your body to manage your blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes or suffer from blood-sugar-related disorders, this could cause you to experience significant blood sugar issues. 
  • Mental wellness. Anxiety and depression are common side effects of not getting enough sleep. If you are already suffering from PMS or PPMD, your feelings of anxiety and depression could worsen with lack of sleep. 
  • Weight gain. When you’re tired, you’ll likely try to compensate by eating more sugary foods and drinking too much caffeine. Overeating can lead to weight gain, which can be significant if you’re missing sleep regularly. 
  • Colds and infections. Like the rest of your body, your immune system requires sleep to function correctly. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your immunity will be low, even if you try to compensate with multivitamins. 
  • Blood pressure issues. High blood pressure goes hand in hand with insomnia, and consistently high blood pressure can place you at a higher risk of developing heart disease and stroke. 

On top of the increased risk of disease, you’ll also feel like total trash when you don’t get enough sleep. You might be able to get through the day if you’ve just missed one night of sleep, but if you’re consistently missing sleep, it will have a cumulative negative effect on your body and mind. 

How To Tell If You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep

If you feel like you’re sleeping enough, it can be hard to tell if insomnia is really the problem. For instance, if you’ve always gotten between five to six hours of sleep and been able to function and stay healthy, finding yourself tired and fatigued with the same amount of sleep can make you question whether your symptoms are sleep-related or not. 

Symptoms of sleeplessness include:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Mental confusion and feeling scatterbrained 
  • Irritability, depression, and anxiety
  • Feeling sick without actual symptoms of flu or cold

If you experience these symptoms while on your period, you could be suffering from period insomnia, a condition caused by the hormonal changes a woman experiences before and during her period. 

What Causes Period Insomnia?

Women are more likely than men to experience insomnia, and the likely cause is hormonal. Your monthly cycle consists of four distinct phases, and each phase brings about changes to your hormones that can directly affect your sleep. 

The four phases of your period are the menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulation phase, and luteal phase. 

How the Four Phases of Your Period Work

During your 28-31 day cycle, your body is constantly at work. 

  1. Menstrual phase. This is the first phase of your cycle and starts on the first day of your period and ends on the last day of your period. The average length of this phase is five to seven days. 
  2. Follicular phase. Overlapping with the menstrual phase is the follicular phase. A follicle-stimulating hormone releases that trigger your ovaries to develop an egg inside of a follicle, released during the ovulation phase. This phase can last up to 13 days.
  3. Ovulation phase. During ovulation (which only lasts about 24 to 48 hours) an egg will be released and travel down the fallopian tube to be fertilized. Typically, you’ll ovulate around day 14 of your monthly cycle.
  4. Luteal phase. During the luteal phase, your body releases a luteinizing hormone that helps remove an unfertilized egg and the lining of the uterus from the body, triggering the beginning of the menstruating phase. 

This cycle can trigger insomnia depending on which hormones are being released and how your body responds to their release. 

How To Tell If You Have Period Insomnia

It’s more than just not sleeping during your period. Period insomnia can involve not falling asleep, waking up during the night, not getting enough deep, or “REM” sleep. Researchers aren’t really sure why some hormone changes cause women to lose sleep, but they know that it’s a real occurrence. 

Here’s how to tell if you’re experiencing period-related insomnia.

1. You Can’t Fall Asleep

Maybe you have a lot on your mind, or maybe nothing at all. No matter the reason, you simply cannot fall asleep during your period. Changes in your hormone levels can interfere with your body’s release of melatonin, which helps you fall asleep. 

2. You Can’t Get Stay Asleep

Hormones can change your body temperature, making it difficult for you to stay asleep. If you’ve ever woken up feeling hot or sweaty, it could be a result of hormonal changes that are making your body temperature rise. 

It can also be hard to stay asleep if you find you are constantly bleeding through your overnight period protection. Your body wakes up when it feels a leak, and taking care of a middle-of-the-night leak can cause you to lose sleep and find it difficult to fall back asleep. 

You Can’t Wake Up

Feeling extremely tired when you wake up can be normal, but if you’re not ready to face the day within fifteen minutes of waking up, it could mean you aren’t getting enough sleep. Reaching for caffeine more frequently is also a symptom of not getting enough sleep. 

How To Deal With Period Insomnia

Sometimes, it’s easy to get better sleep simply by making some lifestyle changes and paying closer attention to your body. If you find you still can’t sleep after making some changes, it could be time to see your doctor. 

Here’s how to ensure you’re sleeping better, no matter where you are in your monthly cycle. 

1. Eliminate Caffeine

We know. It’s hard. But if you aren’t sleeping well, caffeine will make your lack of sleep worse. Using too much caffeine can interfere with your natural sleep cycle and make it even more difficult to fall asleep, which will have you reaching for more caffeine the next morning. 

Caffeine can place you in a vicious, sleep-deprived cycle that never ends unless you cut back on your favorite frap. A better option is to switch to green tea during your period or other low-caffeine beverages to help pep you up during the day but allow you to sleep at night. 

Practice Good Self-Care

If you find yourself stressed and anxious during your period, better relaxation techniques can be the answer. Whether you find your peace in yoga, meditation, or exercise, finding a way to relax and manage stress healthfully can mean the difference between sleeping or not sleeping. 

Put Your Phone Down

Your work or school emails can wait. Blue light emitted from your devices can interfere with your circadian rhythm, causing it to become increasingly difficult for you to fall asleep at night. 

If you’re having trouble sleeping, make it a rule to put down your phone and power off devices at least thirty minutes before bedtime. 

Get Comfortable On Your Period

If your insomnia is directly related to getting up to change a pad or tampon in the middle of the night, opt for longer-lasting period care that can protect you all night long and let you sleep soundly. Rael’s period panties give you all-night protection by themselves or along with another period care item like a tampon or a pad. 

Our period panties are available in disposable and reusable versions to fit your lifestyle and make it easy to stay protected and comfortable while you sleep. 

Get Better Sleep, With Rael

Your body and mind both need sleep to stay healthy, and if hormonal changes during your period prevent you from getting sleep, Rael can help. Our period care products help protect you all night, so you don’t have to worry about leaks or waking up to change your pad or tampon. 

Sleep is holistic, and you can get it holistically, even during your period. Rael has everything you need to have an empowering (and restful) period. 


Sources:

Sleep and your health | MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia 

Sleep and Premenstrual Syndrome | PubMed 

Physiology, Ovulation - StatPearls | NCBI Bookshelf 

How does your period impact your sleep? | Patient
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