It has been reported that women who suffer from PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) are also twice as likely to suffer from insomnia. Some of the reasons behind this surround general discomfort due to PMS, as well as hormonal disruptions, changing of sleeping cycles and peaks in anxiety before and during menstruation.
Addressing these issues before bed as a preventive measure can, therefore greatly improve your sleep quality and, in turn, actually improve your threshold to endure the changes in your body, mind and hormonal levels in general.
Cultivate a nighttime ritual before and during your period by trying some of the following techniques for better sleep
Keep your bedroom cool.
Surges in hormones cause your body temperatures to fluctuate. Body temperature plays a big role in a person’s sleeping patterns. In fact, the optimal environmental temperature for the body to get a good night’s sleep is between 15-20 degrees celsius.
To keep your bedroom cool, you can try introducing a fan or AC, opting for light blankets or opening your windows.
Use a hot water bottle or heating pad.
There is nothing quite as comforting as heat to your belly when you have your period. Bringing the heat to the area helps the muscles to relax by improving blood flow to the uterus and does wonders to relieve the pain of menstrual cramping by dilating the blood vessels.
Consider taking a hot water bottle or heating pad to bed with you to hold against your belly. Putting it beneath your lower back can also help to release the body and soothe your pain.
Take a warm bath or shower.
As mentioned in the point above, warmth can have a relaxing effect on the body. Soak in a hot bath or take a steamy shower before bed to enjoy its soothing nature. Add essential oils like lavender for extra aromatherapy benefits, and you’ve got yourself a winning combination.
Save time for Yoga
Yoga is not all standing on your head and doing spaghetti-like backbends. Yoga is also a wonderful low-impact activity that can be scaled in intensity depending on what you need day to day.
A few minutes of gentle yoga before bed can help you to release the muscles holding tension and pain in your body, and help you to consciously relax.
There are a few postures in particular, like baby pose, that are especially good for the relief of pain caused by menstruation. You could try these gentle postures, including a few soft twists for a few minutes before bed. Or, follow a short youtube video on gentle yoga or meditation during the day to enjoy the full effects.
Stay physically active
If yoga is not your thing, try and find another form of physical activity that works for you. Studies show that being physically active can minimise cramps and burn enough energy during your day to help you fall into a deep sleep more easily.
When you exercise your brain releases feel-good hormones that effectively block the pain receptors in your body, therefore limiting the pain response in your brain. Less physical discomfort leads to a better night’s sleep.
Minimise your period-related stress
Something that both PMS and insomnia can have in common is anxiety. Some women admit that they tend to feel more anxious when they are on their periods. Anxiety is often riddled by the tendency to have run-away thoughts that make it difficult at times to turn off and fall asleep. These anxieties may be compounded when combined with other worries, specifically related to menstruation.
For the best chance of beating these anxieties head-on it may be worth addressing the following worries you might not even know that you have, like;
How can I avoid leaking while I sleep?
If you are worried about leaking during the night, you may find your body stiffening up and it may become more difficult to fall into a deep sleep. There are a few things you can try to help dissipate these fears.
You may want to try changing your sleeping position.
Sleeping in the fetal position actually relieves cramps, helps to bring a sense of comfort and security, AND reduces your chances of spilling. If you use pads, you might also want to switch out your regulars for a maxi-pad like Stayfree’s Maxi Thick Pads.
Can I sleep with a tampon in?
This is a tricky one because if you leave your tampon in for an extended period of time you may run the risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS). TSS is a serious reaction due to toxins caused by bacteria that make it into the bloodstream and then to other organs in the body.
Having said this, if you sleep for less than eight hours and are diligent about putting a new tampon in before bed and when you get up, then it is generally safe to sleep with a tampon in.
However, if toxic shock syndrome is something that stresses you out (even subconsciously) then it might be affecting your sleep, and it might be worth swapping out your tampons for pads, period panties or a diva cup.
What natural remedies can I use to help me sleep while on my period?
There are many other home remedies for reducing period pain that you can try in order to help you sleep more soundly. The important thing is finding what works for you and then making it a part of your evening routine. Lifestyle changes can take some commitment at first but are bound to snowball once you start experiencing less pain and discomfort. Which in turn, will hopefully lead to sleeping more soundly, too.
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