How Being On Your Period Affects Your Dreams & Your Quality Of Sleep

If you have vivid and strange dreams during a certain time of the month, it's totally normal. Why you have weird dreams before and during your period, according to science, provides an explanation for those wacky dreams that don't seem to make any sense. While you probably have bizarre dreams more often than you realize, you don't always remember them. This is because before and during your monthly menstrual cycle you may experience more sleep disturbances, which can cause you to wake up during your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycle. When this happens, your dreams tend to stay fresh in your mind, Dr. Irshaad Ebrahim, from the London Sleep Center, told Broadly.

"In the luteal phase — the week before your period starts — there’s less REM sleep,” Ebrahim told Broadly. "The theory behind this is that the higher the amount of progesterone, the lower the amount of REM sleep." He added that these sleep disturbances increase your chances of waking up during REM sleep and remembering your dreams more clearly than you would during other times of the month, Banwait reported. Additionally, Dr. Ben Kaminsky wrote for Share Care that, "women have more sleep disruptions, including difficulty getting to sleep, awakenings, sleep disturbances [than men], and [more] vivid dreams, during the premenstrual and menstrual time than the rest of the month." And, this is likely due to changes in hormones.

The Science Behind Bizarre AF Period Dreams

"Although the hormone estrogen increases rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (the deep stage of sleep when dreams occur), the female hormone progesterone, which rises mid cycle after ovulation, causes feelings of fatigue or drowsiness," Kaminsky explained. "When menstruation begins and progesterone levels begin to fall, women usually have difficulty falling asleep and often experience the lowest quality of sleep for a few days." And, this low sleep quality means you wake up more often, maybe right in the middle of that crazy dream where you're a contestant on The Price Is Right, which isn't really weird, except in this dream perhaps you're naked.

Personally, this happens to me a lot, and when I wake up during a REM cycle I always feel like I'm in a free fall, which causes me some initial anxiety until I realize that I'm safe in my bed and not actually falling off of a cliff. Bizarre menstrual dreams happen to so many people that there is even a Reddit thread dedicated to strange period dreams. Reddit user themusicliveson wrote, "I get disturbingly vivid nightmares the week before my period hits, but dreaming of being ripped apart by demons is actually kind of a appropriate herald for my periods."

Your Menstrual Cycle Can Also Cause Insomnia

In addition to dreams that could rival a storyline from American Horror Story, fluctuating hormones, before and during, your period, can also cause insomnia. "PMS-induced insomnia is associated with menstrual cycle hormone changes — including serotonin, progesterone, and estrogen — and can be accompanied by night sweats, hot flashes, and vivid dreams or nightmares," according to Insomnia.net.

Insomnia during your cycle can be caused by bloating, cramps, frequent urination, irritability, breast tenderness, and heavy bleeding. This makes complete sense if you experience any of these symptoms. I mean, it's not so easy to sleep when you're doubled over in pain. While fluctuating hormone levels are likely the cause of your bizarre period dreams, OB-GYN Dr. Christiane Northrup told Broadly that you shouldn't feel like a prisoner to your hormones: "We never want for women to feel as though they are victims of their biology, and that’s a discourse we’ve inherited from the past 5,000 years of patriarchy."