It’s a known fact that periods affect every menstruator differently and can equally be affected by other additional external factors like stressors or circumstances.
Sleeping is one of the most important things our bodies do every day, so when your sleep is disturbed this can affect your whole body, mentally and physically.
7/10 menstruators experience a change in their sleep patterns through their menstrual cycle, especially difficulty sleeping in the 3-6 days before their period begins. This is unfortunately inevitable due to the changes your body is going through at this point in your cycle.
Four hormones are the cause of this process, oestrogen, follicle stimulating hormone, progesterone and luteinizing hormone. Each of their levels drop just before the start of our cycles. As well as having a direct impact on our sleeping habits, their level changes can also lead to feelings of anxiousness, depression and nervousness. While these feelings are completely normal during every cycle, they too can be exhausting.
RAISED BODY TEMPERATURE
During the second half of the menstrual cycle, hormone levels tend to drop, this change causes our body temperature to spike, which can affect our circadian rhythm, our internal body clock, that tells us when to sleep and when to wake.
Your body’s core temperature increases by about half a degree right after ovulation, which can disturb your sleep during your period. You will feel the most sleepy when your body temperature drops and is towards the lower side of the normal range. So, while half a degree of raised temperature doesn’t seem like much, it is a known culprit for causing trouble sleeping before and during your period.
You can try to ease this by keeping your bedroom cool and dark, to encourage your body temperature to help you to fall asleep. As well as switching off from devices and bright lights at least 30 minutes before sleeping.
PERIOD HORMONES & SLEEP
Another sleep disturbing culprit are our hormones. Throughout every cycle the main four hormones, including oestrogen and progesterone fluctuate, in turn, this affects our sleep as the changes occur. However, research has shown that when our circadian rhythm becomes irregular, other bodily mechanisms can also become irregular, like our melatonin production, the hormone that helps us to regulate sleep. One study has shown that women who suffer from PMS have a decreased level of melatonin at night, which can also help to explain the difficulties in sleeping we experience. Caused not only by our hormones having an effect on us sleeping, but also by effecting the actual hormone production that we need to help us to sleep!
BEST SLEEPING POSITIONS ON YOUR PERIOD
Everyone has their own specific routines and sleeping habits, especially the way we choose to curl up and get comfy in bed. You can buy pillows perfectly sculpted to your own specific sleeping position. So it is no surprise that there are better sleeping positions for you during your period, especially to combat those uncomfortable cramps and make you feel more secure in leakage from your overnight flow.
The Foetal position; the outstanding winner when it comes to period friendly sleeping. In this position, the skeletal muscles around your abdomen relax, this ease of tension leads to fewer cramps and relieved pain. According to the Period tracking app Clue, the foetal position has another benefit as well as easing those cramps; your legs are squeezed together and being on your side, decreases the chances of overnight leakage.
Studies have shown that if you’re able to, one sleeping position to try to avoid during your period is lying face down. By being positioned on your stomach, you can put pressure on your abdomen, and actually squeeze your uterus to increase the amount of menstrual flow through the night and increasing your chances of overnight leakage.
WHAT PERIOD PROTECTION TO WEAR FOR SLEEPING DURING YOUR PERIOD
If amongst all of the other hormone changes and imbalances that are happening during your period, you are also restless due to worrying about overnight leakage? Waking up to an unexpected flow level can cause anyone to be restless when trying to drift off. You can give yourself a worry free sleep by wearing sustainable reusable overnight flow period underwear & sleepwear. You can also combine period underwear with your cup if you have a particularly heavy flow overnight.
Studies have shown to discourage sleeping in tampons. Every menstruator is different and most gynaecology advise is that if you’re asleep for less than 8 hours then it can be safe. However period underwear and sleepwear, are far more safe for overnight protection due to there being no chance of developing TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) caused by a build-up of bacteria in your vagina from wearing a tampon for too long.
Sleeping in a tampon can also have the negative effects of drying out your naturally occurring vaginal mucosa to your body. The more absorbent a tampon is the more it can unfortunately soak up fluids that it shouldn’t be, when left in overnight. This can then in turn cause microscopic tears in your vagina which can lead to additional health issues of bacteria entering your bloodstream and causing infections. Whereas you can sleep peacefully and safely in period protection underwear and sleepwear without any circumstantial health risks.
If you’re still more comfortable wearing tampons and cups during the day, switching to an overnight flow period underwear (such as our Yvonne high rise) and sleepwear (such as our Therese short) at night can give your body and muscles inside your vagina a break, time to breath and relax during your period.
Photo credits© : Cristina Gareau