If you've ever suffered a bad night's sleep and you weren't sure why, it's not likely you attributed it your menstrual cycle. But just like your hormones can affect your mood and your energy levels, there are ways your menstrual cycle can also affect your sleep. Depending on the time of the month, you might get better or worse sleep, and knowing how your hormones can play a role in how well you rest might help you adjust your habits to get a better night's rest.
"Sleep patterns are regulated by a complex interaction of hormones and other transmitters released in the brain," Dr. Adeeti Gupta, OB/GYN, tells Bustle. "Some of the processes involve the female hormones as well. Progesterone is one such important regulator. Its levels drop right before the period and are at their lowest then. So, women can sometimes have a poor quality sleep as well as night sweats [...] even if they are not in menopause."
This hormonal ebb and flow can affect women differently, so not everyone will experience the same changes in sleep patterns at each time of the month. But there are some common ways your hormones can play a role in how well you rest. Here are six ways your menstrual cycle can affect your sleep, according to experts.
1. Right After Ovulation, Your Body Temperature May Rise
Mid cycle, your body temperatures can rise almost half a degree after ovulation, and this rise in temperature can cause sleep disturbances. "In general, when their temperature drops, women have a more comfortable sleep, which is in the first part of the cycle before ovulation," Dr. Roohi Jeelani, OB/GYN, tells Bustle. "The second half of your cycle could be a time of more disturbed sleep." This rise in body temperature can cause night sweats, which of course doesn't lead to very restful and satisfying sleep.
2. During PMS, You Can Get Less REM Sleep
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is the stage of sleep where your dreams happen, but it also is an important restorative part of sleep that helps with brain functions. "Some studies have shown that women who experience [...] excessive symptoms of premenstrual syndrome have less hours of REM sleep," Dr. Jeelani says. "This can lead to lower sleep quality and more disturbed and restless sleeping patterns."
3. During PMS, You Can Have A Harder Time Falling Asleep
4. During PMS, Mood Changes Can Affect Quality Of Sleep
We all know that changes in your hormones can affect your mood, but increased feelings of sadness or anxiety can also impact sleep. "These mood disturbances can affect the quality of sleep, the duration of sleep, or the ability to initiate sleep," Dr. Rachel Shepherd, OB/GYN, tells Bustle. "If it affects your ability to function normally, you may have the diagnosis of premenstrual dysmorphic disorder. This can be addressed by hormonal treatment that prevents the drop in hormones. Often this is done with combine oral contraceptives or birth control pills."
5. During PMS, Headaches Can Make It Harder To Sleep
Right before your period, there is a drop in estrogen, and this can cause or worsen headaches, which can make it harder for you to sleep. "Some women can even experience menstrual migraines from the drop in hormones," Dr. Shepherd says. "Like the other symptoms related to hormonal changes this can be treated with a stable dose of hormones rather than experiencing the cyclical changes of hormones."
6. During Your Period, Menstrual Cramps Can Cause Sleep Disturbances
For women who experience severe menstrual cramps with their period, it should come as no surprise that this pain can affect sleep. "This is called dysmenorrhea," Dr. Shepherd says. "Like with any pain, this obviously can cause sleep disturbances or inability to fall asleep. Over the counter non-steroidal medications like ibuprofen or naprosyn can help. They work best when taken prior to severe cramps."
Shifts in hormones during different stages of your cycles can cause changes in how well you sleep. If you are noticing a serious impact to your sleep cycle, speak to your doctor about your symptoms.