Understanding Your Menstrual Cycle and Sleep Patterns
Sex Differences In Sleep
are twice more likely to complain of insufficient and poor sleep than men,
according to a number of questionnaire and interview studies of young to
middle-aged men and women.
In addition, women report a greater need for sleep,
greater daytime sleepiness, longer total sleep times, more trouble
maintaining sleep, and greater consumption of sleeping tablets than men
do, whereas men report that it thatís them longer to fall asleep
(including y own husband, who complaints an awful lot about his poor sleep
and his difficulties falling asleep). However, that woman often attributes
their poor sleep to psychological factors, while men blame their sleeping
difficulties on work related issue.
Other studies have examined sex differences in the
architecture of sleep. It appears, according to a small number of studies,
that a few differences in sleep architecture do exist. A relatively recent
study demonstrated that slow wave sleep (SWS) decreases at a later age in
women than in men (Ehlers and Kupfer 1997). Studies are beginning to
assess the influence of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones on
This article is focused on the sleep wake pattern
changes that occur in many women over the course of their menstrual
cycles. For example, recent research concludes that during menstrual women
tend to get less restful sleep, and that after ovulation (i.e, when
progesterone levels begin to decrease) some women find it more difficult
to fall asleep.
Menstrual Effect On Sleep
Observably, adolescent and adult women experience
cyclical changes in reproductive hormone levels. Intensively, research
suggests that permenopausal womenís endocrine system may actually buffer
them against stress, active their immune systems, and improve their
Because of changing womenís hormone levels, both
monthly and throughout he life span, women have often been excluded from
research on sleep, circadian rhythms, and other sleep related factors.
Fortunately, this has changed over the last decade.
According to the National Sleep Foundationís Women and
Sleep Poll 1998, in which over one thousand women goes thirty to sixty
were interviews, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause can affect
sleep.Specifically, 25 to 50 percent of the women surveyed reported that
menstruation symptom (boating, tender breasts, headache, and cramp, and
pain) disturb their sleep for approximately two to three difficulties
during menstruation, including talking longer to fall asleep, walking at
night and being enable to fall back to sleep, feeling less refreshed in
the morning, having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, and
walking earlier. Nearly 70 percent of the women surveyed felt sleepiest
the week prior to or during the first few days of their period.
Still, womenís sleep experiences vary greatly during
the menstrual cycle. Some women may not have any changes in their sleep,
whereas others experience premenstrual hypersomnia, a rare sleep disorder
then causes excessive daytime somnolence in association with menstruation.
We can now begin to draw conclusions regarding sleep
changes over the course of the menstrual cycle, from information gathered
in studies conducted during the 1980s and 1990s (Driver and Baker 1998).
The sleep changes that you and other women may experience over the course
of your menstrual cycle can link to increasing and decreasing hormone
Women report that they experience longer sleep
latencies (the time it takes to fall asleep), reduced sleep quality, and
daytime sleepiness during the late luteal phase (after ovulation) in
comparison to the mid-follicular phase of their menstrual cycles. After
ovulation, progesterone levels start off high and begin to decrease toward
the end of this phase.
Your difficulty falling asleep, your feeling that your
sleep is less restful, and your excessive daytime sleepless or lethargy
after ovulation and at the beginning of menstruation may be related to
these rapidly falling levels of progesterone. In fact, progesterone can be
as sedating as sleeping pills and some research suggests that more quickly
and sharply your hormone levels fall at the end of your cycle, the more
you may toss and turn during the night.
Dr. Helen Driver and her colleagues demonstrated that
elevated body temperature in the postovulatory phase of the menstrual
cycle may disrupt sleep stages and structure, specifically resulting in
decreased REM sleep quantity.
How Does The Menstrual Cycle Affect Sleep?
The hormone oestrogen and progesterone play a role in
regulating the menstrual cycle and also, through their additional
functions relating to the brain, influence other processes like sleep and
circadian rhythms. Changes occur in womenís body during the menstrual
cycle which can affect sleep. Many women report 2-3 days of disrupted
sleep during each menstrual cycle. Factors like stress, mood, illness,
medication, diet, and sleep environment can also affect sleep at this
time. Menstrual cycles are usually 25-23 days long but by convention, when
we discuss them, we use 28 days to show the changes occur.
What Can I Do To Improve My Sleep Especially
If you suffer from premenstrual syndrome or have severe
mood changed (depression, anger, and irritability that affect normal
functioning), you should seek medical advice. Apart from modifying
lifestyle factors, there are some effective medications that can be very
useful in controlling symptoms. Sometimes going on the pill (oral
contraceptive) may help considerable.
Does Shift-work Affect The Menstrual Cycle?
Shift work can disrupt circadian rhythms in hormone
production. The reproductive sex hormones are also affected. Studies show
that women shift-worker have more irregular menstrual cycles, painful
menstruation, and longer menstrual cycles than women who are non-shift
workers. Stress probably plays a large part in affecting the secretion of
hormones from the pituitary gland that then regulate the production of sex
Sleep-smart Strategies During Menstruation
have been sharing menstrual remedies for centuries. Now it may be time to
focus on improving your sleep during various points in your menstrual
Listed below are strategies that women like your have
reported as beneficial or that research studies have demonstrated as
effective. I am sure that you will find that some strategies work better
than others for you.
However, none of the strategies will work unless you
try them in a consistent, regular fashion. If you experience PMS, you may
find these suggestions particularly helpful.
Allow enough time for sleep. Obtaining an adequate
amount of sleep throughout the moth, particularly during menstruation
helps to cushion you during the times when you may have difficulty
falling or remaining asleep. Your circadian rhythms may change during
your cycle. Try to allow extra time for sleep at night if you tend to
experience excessive daytime sleepiness or other changes in your sleep
quality. For example, ask your spouse or partner to put the children
to bed, so you can get to bed early, or ask them to get up with your
toddler if she wakes up during the night. If at possible, plan to take
a brief nap on the days that you feel particularly sleepy or drained
(although I realize this may seem like an impossible suggestion.)
Exercise in moderation regularly. Exercise may
relieve some PMS symptom and increase your amount of deep sleep. But
be sure to complete your workout at least three horse before your
Avoid caffeine. Having caffeine in the evening
disturbs sleep even in those people who thinks it does not affect
them. I cannot tell you the number of times that may close friends,
family members, and of course, college students emphatically have said
to me that they are not at all affected by caffeine, even those who
have trouble sleeping. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea (both iced and
hot), chocolate, sodas, and even some specialty bottled waters.
Caffeine takes six to eight hours for your body metabolize and
therefore you should avoid these stimulant drinks after lunchtime.
Caffeinated beverages may also increase premenstrual bloating and
therefore worsen you already disrupted sleep
Avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol may help you to
fall asleep easily in the evening, but it also result in fragmented
sleep, particularly over the second half of the sleep period. Women
and men drink alcohol to assist with sleep onset generally obtain less
total nighttime sleep than they would if they abstained from alcohol.
Also, alcohol like caffeine, can increase premenstrual bloating and
Avoid large meals and excessive fluid intake. Taken
before bedtime, these may cause poor sleep, indigestion, heartburn, or
frequent awakenings to urinate. Bedtime snacks should be small and
consist of non-spicy foods.
Evaluate your use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. Some of you will find that NSAIDs
help relieve menstrual cramps just before and during your period.
Obviously, if you are more comfortable, you will be likely to fall
asleep and remain asleep during the night. Indeed, a number of studies
have demonstrated that NSAIDs decrease PMS symptoms, particularly
cramp, headaches, and dizziness. However, NSAIDs often bring on
stomach upset and other gastrointestinal difficulties.
Menstrual Planning Calculator
Have an important date on your calendar -
vacation, party, first date, bisiness travel - and want to know
if your period will be coming along? Forecast with this handy
calculator! But remember, this is a prediction based on your past
menstrual cycles: future cycles can and do deviate.
Free online Ovulation Calculator
Due Date Calculator
To stay up-to-date with current Insomnia monthly newsletter subscribe
to Your Insomnia Cure - our free monthly newsletter now
Don't worry -- your
e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send
you Insomnia Cure
No part of this website
including text, graphics, buttons, and other content may be used,
copied, sold, or reproduced in any way online, in print, on the
radio, on television, or any other outlet without the express
written consent of YourInsomniaCure.com. YourInsomniaCure.com does
not directly or indirectly practice medicine, nor does it dispense
medical services as part of this offering. Nothing stated in this
website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any
disease. Once again, always seek the advice of your physician or
other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new
treatment, likewise with any questions you may have regarding a
medical condition. Thank you for reading this. We appreciate you.