Your menstrual cycle is more than just a monthly bleed. When you’re on your period, your emotions, mind, and body all get out of whack. Common side effects are muscle or joint pain, headaches, acne breakouts, cramping, bloating, and mood swings. But another common side effect that people don’t talk about is the impact your period has on your sleep.
When the US National Sleep Foundation conducted a study on the topic, it found that 30 percent of women experienced disrupted sleep when it was their time of the month. Twenty-three percent of participants also said they find it difficult to get a full eight hours of sleep during the week leading up to their period. And women who experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are twice as likely to have insomnia.
If you throw menstrual cramps into the situation, the problem with sleeping is much worse. Getting a good night’s rest while you’re in pain is never easy. However, if you’ve ever wondered how to sleep with menstrual cramps, there are solutions that can help. But before diving into them, it’s important to start with the basics.
Why your period makes it hard to sleep
Menstrual cramps aren’t the only reason you may have trouble sleeping. When it’s your time of the month, other factors can prevent you from falling and staying asleep, and it’s important to know what those culprits are if you want to solve your problem.
After all, tackling the root cause of an issue is what relieves the side effects. So you need to be sure menstrual cramps are the primary reason for your sleep problems and not something else. That said, here are other reasons you may have trouble sleeping while on your period.
1. Changes in body temperature
During your menstrual cycle, your core body temperature will rise between a half and a whole degree. This change is problematic because the evening drop in body temperature that you experience off your period is a primary biological trigger that makes you sleepy. If that trigger doesn’t go off, it’s going to be hard to fall asleep.
2. Mood swings
Mood swings are to be expected during your menstrual cycle. When progesterone and estrogen levels drop right before your period starts, you will feel negative emotions more intensely. And while this side effect is completely normal, it can make it hard to fall asleep when your anxiety and depression feel overwhelming.
3. Indigestion, nausea, and other stomach problems
When your period starts, menstrual cramps aren’t the only things that can bother your stomach. You can also experience diarrhea, nausea, and indigestion. And all of those factors can lead to difficulty sleeping.
4. Headaches and muscle pain
Period pain isn’t just isolated to your stomach. It can also extend to your head and muscles, resulting in headaches, back pain, leg pain, and achiness in your joints. If you leave these issues untreated, your sleep quality will likely decrease.
5 ways to sleep with menstrual cramps
After determining why it’s hard to sleep during your menstrual cycle, it’s time to seek solutions. And if you’re still looking for solutions that can specifically alleviate menstrual cramps to improve your sleep quality, there are plenty of remedies that can help.
But please keep in mind that you don’t have to choose just one solution. All of these remedies can work together. And if you combine them, you should experience more relief, so take some time to incorporate as many of them as possible.
1. Sleep in a fetal position
If you want to take some pressure off your abdominal muscles, sleeping in a fetal position can be a great help. This strategy will relax the skeletal muscles around your abdomen, leading to less strain, and therefore, less cramping and pain.
2. Use a heating pad before bed
Another great way to help your stomach relax is with a heating pad. Providing a little warmth to your tummy will soothe the muscles around your abdomen and alleviate your menstrual pain.
Also, you don’t need to have a heating pad plugged into an electrical outlet to experience relief. There are other options like disposable heat wraps, rechargeable cordless heat wraps, and microwavable heat pads. Usually, you can find these items at your local drug store, so you don’t have to travel far to get one.
3. Take some CBD
CBD is a hemp-derived cannabinoid that’s federally legal in the United States, and one of its primary benefits is pain relief. Whether you’re using CBD oil, a CBD topical, or CBD edible, you can reduce pain with these remedies so that you sleep well at night.
Additionally, CBD is a great hormone-balancing remedy. For example, CBD jumpstarts the secretion of melatonin, a critical sleep hormone in your body. And when it does this, your sleep quality improves so that you don’t toss and turn all night. On top of that, CBD also affects your sex hormones and reportedly has the ability to relieve menstrual cramps.
4. Sleep in child’s pose
Sleeping in child’s pose might sound weird. After all, you usually get in this position when you’re on a yoga mat. But surprisingly, relieving menstrual cramps is possible just by putting your head on a mattress and tucking your knees in.
In general, yoga is an excellent way to combat cramps, especially when you’re using poses that require you to fold in a specific way to release tension in your lower back. Bound angle pose, supine twists, and forward folds are other soothing positions for menstrual cramps. However, these may be harder to sleep in, so get in these positions before bed, and use child’s pose when you’re actually in bed.
5. Lie on your back
The main benefit of lying on your back when you have menstrual cramps is that you can massage your stomach before you fall asleep. This tactic is a perfect way to alleviate cramps. Just massaging your stomach for five minutes before bed can ease tension and increase blood flow.
And you can get even better results if you add aromatherapy to the mix. Soothing essential oils like cinnamon and lavender may relieve your menstrual cramps if you use them for your massage, so make sure to grab them to get maximal effects.
Get the sleep you need
Menstrual cramps are not fun or comfortable, and they can quickly disrupt your sleep. But now, you have simple strategies that you can immediately implement to get the best sleep possible. So start using the above remedies the next time you’re on your period, and let us know how you sleep.