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How to Sleep Better With PMS

by BetterSleep
Aug 26 • 2 min read

Poor quality sleep or sleep deprivation can be a problem for anyone. However, women are more likely to experience insomnia than men. One reason may be hormones and how they cycle in women throughout each menstrual period. PMS (premenstrual syndrome) may be a factor for your poor sleep, but thankfully you can do something about it.

What is PMS?

PMS is a set of symptoms that many women experience leading up to their period. Some of the common symptoms of PMS include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability and crying
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Bloating
  • Weight gain
  • Acne
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

How Does PMS Affect Sleep?

Insomnia is one potential symptom that many women face in the week or two before their period starts. Some women experience fatigue and sleep more than usual, but many women have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep. Some also struggle to sleep beyond PMS and during their periods.

A severe form of PMS, known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, is even more likely to trigger insomnia. Women going through PMS are twice as likely to have insomnia, and nearly three-quarters of women with PMDD experience insomnia.

Insomnia and PMS: The Hormone Connection

Many of the symptoms of PMS—pain, digestive upset, and irritability—can make it more difficult to sleep. The main underlying cause, however, may be hormonal. Levels of estrogen and progesterone change throughout each menstrual period:

  • During the follicular phase, from day one of menstruation to ovulation, estrogen levels rise.
  • After ovulation, estrogen rises again, along with progesterone.
  • The hormones remain relatively high until a few days before the next period when both drop.

Progesterone tends to relax you and make you sleepy; estrogen provides more of an energy boost. During the PMS period, when progesterone drops rapidly, it can be difficult to sleep.

Tips to Sleep Better Before, During, and After Your Period

PMS and hormone changes aren’t always on your side when it comes to sleep. This doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it. First, focus on good sleep hygiene to ensure you have the best chance of sleeping well. This means going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, creating a cool and relaxing bedroom environment, avoiding alcohol and caffeine in the evening, and doing something to relax before bed.

As your premenstrual time approaches, take proactive steps to manage or minimize symptoms. Get regular exercise, eat well, and stay hydrated. Try using relaxation strategies, like meditation or focused breathing. These habits will help you cope with PMS symptoms.

Talk to your doctor if you have severe PMS symptoms or don’t respond to self-care or over-the-counter medications. You may benefit from medications and therapies that reduce symptoms and help you sleep better.

PMS insomnia is a reality for many women. The better you feel, both physically and mentally, the easier it will be to sleep throughout the month.

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