For lots of people with periods, PMS is a regular, monthly treat. You crave, you cry, and you stay up all night. Then a few weeks go by, and you do it all again! It’s a given that the time shall come, and we’ll just get on with it — like we do every month. But what if we don’t have to just get on with it? We’re not powerless against PMS, and sleep is an underrated defense against the pre-menstrual blues! Here’s everything you need to know about sleep and PMS.
Sleep and your hormones
Yes, the two are intertwined, more so than you might think! If you have a problem with your hormones, it’s probably affecting your sleep. If you have a problem with sleep, it’s probably affecting your hormones. It’s a lose-lose deal.
Cortisol, Estrogen, and Progesterone
A good night’s sleep can improve a lot of problems, but a bad one can send your body into a state of disarray. Disturbed sleep can change the way your brain releases Cortisol, which in turn impacts how your body produces other hormones, including Estrogen and Progesterone. If Estrogen and Progesterone production is disturbed, you might experience all the joys of hormonal imbalance and worsened PMS symptoms. And your Menstrual Cycle could also change.
Melatonin, Estrogen and Progesterone
Melatonin famously regulates sleep, releasing more as you approach bedtime and less as you begin your day, keeping you alert. In a 2020 study, Melatonin receptors were found in cells along the reproductive tract and uterus, suggesting these cells can be impacted by Melatonin.
There’s also the school of thought that suggests Melatonin actually modulates Progesterone production. And, at high doses when combined with Progesterone, it can suppress Ovulation. All of which points to Melatonin having a wider effect on your other hormones than anyone knew.
So, if your Circadian rhythms are disrupted, through too much or too little sleep, too much screen time, or stress, it can affect your Melatonin levels. And your hormones might not like that very much. More research is clearly needed, but in the meantime, sleep is so important, so make sure you’re getting the right amount for you.
Hormonal imbalance, Menopause, and insomnia
Hormone fluctuations throughout the month mean your quality of sleep will ebb and flow. But more serious hormone changes can really upset the rhythm of things. And get this, those assigned female at birth have a higher lifetime risk of insomnia than those assigned male at birth. WTAF?
And the fantastically annoying hormonal causes of insomnia include:
- Menopause, including the surgical and early-onset versions
- PMS and PMDD
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy
- Thyroid issues
- Cycle-related temperature changes
Moreover, unruly hormone fluctuations come with their own side effects. Things like depression, anxiety, increased body temperature, or heavy bleeding during your period are hardly conducive to getting a perfect night’s sleep.
Turning the tables: Sleep and PMS don’t have to be strangers
Just between us Hormonas… It doesn’t have to be this way! We know now that PMS causes a lot of sleep issues. But if you also live with other hormone complications on top of the usual ups and downs, it’s likely to be even more of a struggle.
Getting enough good quality sleep can do some magical things where PMS is concerned. Here’s how to maximize the magic of rest:
- Create a nighttime routine that relaxes you and helps your body prepare for a fabulous night’s rest. Start a luxurious skincare routine, spend a few minutes stretching, or relax in the bath. Create the perfect wind-down for you.
- Having a snooze-friendly environment is essential. Keep your room at a comfortable temperature, turn out the lights, and add some relaxing sounds and smells
- Keep going. It can be hard to commit to a regular sleep routine, especially when your brain just won’t. Shut. Off. Try relaxation exercises, a hot bath, or some yoga, and remember that rest is still good for you even if it’s not sleep. You’re doing your hormones a solid either way.
Sleep and PMS: Self-care
When your body and your mind are under stress, sleep can be a rare luxury. Looking after yourself all month, then, can add that extra level of support when PMS appears looking for a fight. Here are a few ways to help you take care of you:
- Get in tune with your sleep cycle. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Do naps give you energy or do they shock you into a state of utter delirium? Everyone’s different, and understanding exactly when and why your body feels its best can make all the difference.
- Keep to regular, earlier mealtimes. Eating a few hours before sleep can give you time to digest and de-bloat before you bed down for the night.
- Get to know your digestion. Some weeks you might be more sensitive to certain foods than others. Knowing which ones and when can help stop stomach issues keeping you up all night.
- Eat a balanced diet. In general, eating nutrient-rich foods from all food groups can promote hormone health and fabulous digestion. And that in turn can make sleep much more possible.
- You could try tea, too! Yes, herbal teas are naturally decaf, contain tons of nutrients, and won’t leave you bloated or headachey.
And the best way to keep track of what’s working for you and when? The Hormona app of course! Yes, it’s a shameful plug, but tracking your insomnia, as well as your hormones and other symptoms can have a huge impact on how you approach everything. Try it — you’ll love it!
Sleep and PMS: Where to go from here?
Even if you only manage to stick to your routine a couple of nights a week, that’s still two nights where you’ll sleep better and, hopefully, feel better. The real point is to be more aware of how your sleep, or lack thereof, affects you, and the things that work best for you. Life, though, doesn’t always allow for sleep perfection, so don’t feel too bad if insomnia still occasionally visits.
That said, insomnia and sleep disruption can be a bish. So if it’s starting to affect your life and your wellbeing, please talk to someone. Because while hormones, sleep, and PMS are deeply connected, any sleeplessness connected to your cycle should be temporary. So insomnia that goes on for weeks, for God forbid, months, needs attention. And that is not up for negotiation. Here’s to a good night’s sleep!
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