Struggle to sleep when due period

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by Guest Posts on Thu Apr 07, 2022 9:29 am

Struggle to sleep when due period

When I am due on my period, I typically wake up at 3am and struggle to get back to sleep - is there anything that can be done? (Esme)
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Dr Sarah Gilchrist
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by Dr Sarah Gilchrist on Thu Apr 07, 2022 1:03 pm

Re: Struggle to sleep when due period

Hi Esme

I'm sorry to hear you struggle with your sleep when you're due your period. Hopefully some of the suggestions below can help with your sleep issue.

You don't explicitly say when in your cycle this wakening occurs other than before menses begins (period starts). Is it on a typical day of your cycle? It might be worth tracking your cycle and recording any symptoms as this can help with a management strategy for your sleep.

I would imagine you are waking before your period for a number of reasons related to pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Typically during this time (usually 7-10 days pre menses) women can experience a whole manner of symptoms, to name a few; increased core body temperature, bloated, general aches and pains and mood swings. All of these symptoms can potentially affect your sleep.

I would suggest the following to aid your sleep in the days leading up to your period.

Keep a sleep diary to track your menstrual cycle and sleep. Identify if sleep is affected at particular points in your cycle. If so, try and reinforce some good sleep hygiene during this time (see later tips). and maybe employ some other interventions e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy.

Pain management techniques can help through anti-inflammatory medication, but seek advice from your GP first. Similarly, seek medical advice if there are more serious clinical conditions in relation to any part of your menstrual cycle that cause you pain. Have some pain management nearby in case pain strikes overnight and wakes you up or prevents you from falling asleep.

Have water to hand overnight in case you need to cool down through a rise in core temperature or you need to take some pain relief.

Ensure your room is 18-20C. The body needs a cool and calm environment to help sleep onset and if PMS is causing you to feel warmer then a cool room will help.

Develop a regular ‘strategy to sleep’ that’s workable and flexible to your life demands
Have a regular sleep routine (time to bed, get up time).

Avoid devices in bed/bedroom.

Limit late night exercise (i.e. after 9pm) and eat and hydrate well throughout the day.

Don't eat a heavy meal too close to bedtime. Allow a couple of hours to digest a meal before going to bed.

Seek fresh air and daylight once a day.

Where sleep is interrupted, try sleep extension techniques (i.e. napping) which alongside a good daily sleep routine (i.e. time to bed and get up time), can be of benefit.

Try some gentle interventions to help poor sleep e.g. naps, cognitive behavioural therapy (see your GP for advice).

Limit nicotine, caffeine & alcohol.

Reduce stress and worry as much as possible. Try relaxation techniques, massage and exercise. Talk to a behavioural health professional if you are depressed, anxious or having problems.

Have a good overnight sanitary solution in case heavy flow wakes you up.

Have back up nightwear/bedding requirements ready in case you need to change in the night (night sweats or heavy flow). Swap to another bed if you are uncomfortable during the night. Try not to be awake overly long, use dim lighting and get comfortable as soon as possible.

Sleep in comfortable and breathable clothing.

Plan ahead. If you know you will likely experience symptoms at some point in the week ahead then ensure you are prepared, especially if away from home
Dr Sarah Gilchrist
Specialist in sleep and athletic performance ... -gilchrist

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