Have you ever noticed yourself feeling sleepy during the day or having a restless night right before your period? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. Up to 7 in 10 women notice sleep changes ahead of menstruation.1 This usually happens around 3-6 days before.1
Sleeping problems are one of the many unwelcome symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, commonly known by its abbreviation, PMS.
PMS symptoms include a range of unwanted physical and emotional changes, such as cramps, bloating, headaches, reduced concentration, anxiety, irritability and mood swings, and appetite changes.2
Studies have found that sleep does indeed worsen late in the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle (when PMS comes into the picture).3
Many of us feel it’s harder to get to sleep and stay asleep while experiencing PMS. One study suggests women with PMS are at least two times more likely to report insomnia.4
While we don’t know for certain why PMS affects women’s sleep patterns, research points to a few possible reasons.
While it is suggested that a better sleep routine could help alleviate cramps, the answer to that is more complex. While there is ongoing research about hormones affecting women's sleep, there is an ongoing social issue for women, or more precisely mothers having less sleep.
In a study released in 2018, new mothers get just about four hours and 44 minutes of sleep in their child's first life (4hr 44mins). Which is almost half of the recommended sleep amount a normal adult has. Meanwhile, the fathers of these women will get almost seven hours of sleep, losing only 1 hour in comparison. This "Gender gap" in sleep affects mothers, which can adversely affect overall their women's health in a long-term capacity.
It may not be surprising to find that hormone levels play a part in sleep issues in the days leading up to your period. Studies show that a rise in progesterone levels can cause your body temperature to increase, which can lead to fragmented sleep.5
There is also some research that shows that our REM sleep where we dream can be shorter during this stage of our menstrual cycle.6 This may explain why your sleep feels less satisfying right before your period.
The Sleep Health Foundation suggests you keep a daily diary of your PMS symptoms for around three months.7 This will help you confirm that your symptoms are linked to PMS. It also means you can then take steps to get better sleep ahead of your next menstrual cycle.
Practising good sleep hygiene can help to combat PMS-induced insomnia. This means:7
ResMed is a global leader in sleep technology that has its origins right here in Australia. Our goal is to provide people with the means to awaken their best and enjoy healthier lives by promoting good sleep habits and creating awareness for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
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