Health

7 Tips For Cramps So Bad They Wake You Up

Here’s how to get rid of period pain at night.

A woman holds a hot water bottle to get rid of period cramps at night.
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When you're on your period, everything seems that little bit more difficult. Exercising is a chore, feeling positive seems like a distant memory, and healthy eating? Good one. Add fatigue, mood swings and menstrual cramps, and you can see why periods are dreaded by many. One thing that can really be an annoyance (and lead to more fatigue) is disturbed sleep, often caused by menstrual cramps becoming worse at night, and exhibiting period pains in the abdomen, back and thighs, too. If the pain of menstrual cramps is waking you from peaceful slumber on a monthly basis, here's how to get rid of period cramps at night for good.

Adopt One Of These Sleep Positions

First things first, adopting a sleeping position that'll make you feel calmer and more comfortable is a sure-fire way to relieve some of those additional period pains at night. “Sleeping in the foetal position takes pressure off the abdominal muscles,” Dr Lisa Mindley MD told Glamour.

Dr Jessica Grossman, MD, told Teen Vogue that slipping into child's pose, which involves folding forward and putting your head on your mattress with your knees curled beneath you, can relieve period cramps, too. Dr Grossman also suggested that lying on your back can help, as it enables you to massage your stomach essential oils that alleviate period pain, such as lavender and cinnamon oil, as you try to get to sleep. I'd recommend doing this with OHNE's Anti-Teardrops Oil, which contains 1% CBD oil to help ease cramps. You can even apply it directly onto your tampon, too.

Keep Your Room Cool

In the second half of your cycle, the hormone progesterone helps the womb to prepare for implantation of a developing embryo. Progesterone is linked to both an increase in body temperature and fatigue — two classic symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) that make falling asleep that little bit more difficult.

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A drop in body temperature usually signals the brain that it’s time to sleep, but if your hormones are making you warmer than usual, it's harder to drift off. The National Sleep Foundation found in a study that the optimum temperature for a good night’s sleep was 18.4ºC, but most doctors recommended keeping the room between 15.6 to 19.4ºC (for adults) as the optimum range.

Apply Heat

Didn’t you just say to keep the room cool? Well, yes. But hear me out. Keeping your overall body temperature at a cooler level is important, but concentrated heat such as “putting a heat pad or hot water bottle (wrapped in a tea towel)” directly on your stomach may help reduce period pain at night, the NHS confirms.

Try Painkillers

The easiest — and often most effective — way to treat menstrual cramps at night is to take some painkillers. The NHS recommends trying aspirin or ibuprofen first, as they are better at treating this type of period pain. Take a painkiller, lie back down, and wait for it to kick in before trying to get back to sleep.

Have A Soothing Drink

So you've woken up in the middle of the night, and you're panicking about being able to go back to sleep. Whenever insomnia hits me (period or no period), I find it best to get up out of bed, go to the toilet and even go and make a warm drink. Not only can the act of leaving your bed can help you to feel refreshed when you get back in to try to sleep again, but also certain kinds of herbal tea — such as cramp bark, turmeric, and black cohosh — can help alleviate period cramps at night, too.

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Stretch It Out

Alternative period pain relief options, such as stretches and light yoga, can help to alleviate period pain in the night, too. Not only do stretches help to relieve any tension in the muscles, certain positions can also help relieve pain caused by period cramps at night. As previously mentioned, child’s pose can provide some relief to the back pain caused by menstrual cramps at night. Bound angle pose and a reclined bound angle pose can alleviate period cramps, as can the inverted leg pose, all of which can be done without leaving your bed!

Listen To One Of These Apps

One thing I always personally do if I wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to get back to sleep, is reach for my phone. I know this sounds bad (blue light and all), but hear me out; I actually use it for a sleeping app. Keeping the light level on low, I click on the iSleep Easy app, which features a 'Wee Hours Rescue' playlist. This uses meditation and calming sounds to help you drift off back to sleep when you're up and panicking. Most meditation-style apps such as Headspace and Calm have a selection of sleep stories or playlists to help distract you from those period cramps in the middle of the night.

However, if period pain starts to negatively affect your daily life, and is keeping you up most nights, it probably warrants a trip to the doctor. There, your GP will be able to advise you on the best plan of action for your nighttime menstrual cramps.

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