So many of us have been there.
It’s 2, 3, or even 4 in the morning. Despite a full day’s living, you’re staring at the ceiling, wide awake, wondering why in the world you can’t sleep.
And then – aha! You remember.
You’re about to get your period.
For so many women, insomnia is just part of the period experience. It’s an unwelcome interruption to daily life, and can make other period symptoms worse than they already are.
If you’re one of these women, you’re in good company, as insomnia before a period is one of the most common symptoms of PMS.
Here, we’ll explore the connection between your menstrual cycle and sleep, causes of insomnia before your period, and how to identify and manage symptoms of insomnia before period.
But if you’re too sleepy to get through a whole article (we totally get it!) then you’re going to want to check out Hello Again’s 4:1 THC:CBD Sleep Suppository.
Combining cannabis with soothing botanicals, the Sleep suppository helps you get to sleep, stay asleep, or get back to sleep when things go bump in the night.
On to the science!
The Menstrual Cycle and Sleep
Roughly 1 in 10 adults have insomnia, which is clinically defined as trouble falling or staying asleep.
That figure doubles when it comes to women nearing their period.
Women with PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, suffer even more, as nearly 70% of women have insomnia symptoms before their period.
What’s the culprit here?
If you guessed “hormones”, pat yourself on the back.
Hormone levels are a major factor when it comes to insomnia before periods.
The average menstrual cycle lasts 28 to 35 days, with day 1 being the first day of your period.
You can break it down like this:
Menstruation (Day 1-5)
This is where the uterine lining is shed, and what we call “shark week” happens.
Follicular Phase (Day 1-13)
The pituitary gland releases follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which stimulates egg production.
Ovulation (Day 14)
A surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) triggers the release of a matured egg from the ovary.
Luteal Phase (Day 15-28)
If there’s no pregnancy, progesterone drops and menstruation starts.
As your cycle continues, there will be a point where your progesterone levels are higher than your estrogen levels. It’s that change in levels, and not the levels themselves, that experts say contributes to sleep disturbances.
The 4-5 days before your period up to the first 2 days of your period is when insomnia and sleep issues are most likely to strike.
Causes of Insomnia Before Your Period
We’ve covered how changes in progesterone levels mess with your mood and your rest. But did you know that elevated progesterone levels also contribute sleepiness during the day? We know, it’s the worst of both worlds.
Though experts can’t agree on one solid answer, there’s also the theory that a dip in serotonin can also contribute to insomnia before and during your period.
Pain and Discomfort
Ever tried sleeping with period cramps at night? Yeah, right. Chronic discomfort, which varies from woman to woman and period to period, is another contributing factor to a lack of sleep and insomnia before period.
Anxiety can keep you from a good night’s sleep, even if you’re not on your period. The stress and emotional instability that can accompany periods also contribute to lack of adequate rest.
Identifying Premenstrual Insomnia
If you aren’t sure if what you’re dealing with is premenstrual insomnia, it doesn’t hurt to track it.
Keep a journal or pick a color for your calendar and mark those sleepless nights. If you see a consistent pattern of insomnia before period, then you have a better idea of what you’re dealing with.
Coping Strategies for Premenstrual Insomnia
You don’t have to exercise every day to get good sleep, but a regular exercise routine goes a long way when it comes to better rest.
Another good habit to get into is a diet that supports your sleep. If you know that caffeine keeps you up, or sugar stresses you out, try cutting down on those and see how it affects you. We all know how awful it can be to detox from caffeine, so proceed with caution!
Like we mentioned above, exercise is great. But what might be even more beneficial is the type of exercise you get. Save high-intensity exercises for the afternoon, and choose light resistance or aerobic exercises in the evening. Yes, that includes yoga.
Part of stress management is managing what stresses you out. Sounds like a “no, duh”, but we mean it. If you know you get super weepy at cute animal videos or cry your eyes out to romance movies at the same times every month, maybe pop in a light comedy instead.
Some studies have found that some women with PMS have altered sleep architecture, which means they move abnormally through regular stages of sleep. Some women get significantly less deep REM sleep during the late luteal phases of their periods.
It’s not exactly easy to rewire your brain, but practicing good sleep hygiene is definitely something you can do. That might involve soothing oils, a nightly “calm down” practice, meditation, yoga, a hot cup of tea…whatever gets you feeling sleepy!
Over-the-Counter (OTC) Sleep Aids
Feels like melatonin is all over the place these days, huh?
From gummies to tinctures to tablets, it’s what many people take to get a good night’s rest.
If you’re dealing with insomnia before period, melatonin can be great to try. Keep in mind that as little as .1 to .3 milligrams might be enough to help your sleep issues. As with all dietary supplements, melatonin is unregulated and untested for long-term use in humans.
Like melatonin, but more herby, valerian is an herbal extract that is one of the leading natural supplements for managing anxiety and insomnia.
We said “like melatonin” partially because it’s said to have positive effects on insomnia, but also because it’s not regulated and studies have produced results that show little to no effect on insomnia.
As with any items, herbs, or products in this article, we recommend consulting with your doctor before adding them to your usual sleep routine.
Chamomile is another popular sleep aid, most commonly consumed in the form of chamomile tea and less commonly as a tincture. It also has mixed effects.
On the less safe side is kava, or kava-kava, which now has liver toxicity associated with its use.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)
Sleep therapy is totally a thing. It’s just not called that.
CBT-I, or cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, is a structured, evidence-based approach that helps you combat insomnia’s frustrating symptoms.
With a certified CBT therapist, you’ll go through cognitive and behavioral interventions to get you thinking and acting differently about the sleep issues you’re facing. Though CBT-I therapists are in short-ish supply, treatment only spans several sessions.
THC/CBD Sleep Suppository
One of the more overlooked symptoms that can trigger insomnia before a period are the body temperature disturbances that occur right before your cycle begins.
The Hello Again Sleep Suppository uses valerian root extract and hops to help your body regulate its temperature, along with neroli oil for inflammation and mood.
With Roman chamomile for calm and lavender for relaxation, it’s like a sleepy, breezy spa day for your V.
Suppositories are excellent for anyone who is wary of taking medications for insomnia, and would like some more holistic help with skin-boosting benefits along with ease and peace of mind.
Medications for Insomnia
Rather than give you a list of meds, we’ll start by saying that prescription insomnia medication is not for long-term use.
There are many side effects associated with prescription sleep aids, including sleepwalking, sleep driving, and general impairment.
Anti-Parkinsonian drugs, benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine hypnotics, anticonvulsants, anti-narcoleptics, antidepressants and over-the-counter sleep aids all fit into this category.
Hormonal Birth Control
Periods and hormonal birth control go hand-in-hand for many women.
There’s a reason why the piece of paper that comes with the pills is so long – there are tons of side effects to contend with.
At the same time, hormonal birth control may be a blessing for those suffering with insomnia before a period, as they mimic pregnancy in the body without the highs and lows of progesterone thought to contribute to period insomnia.
Definitely speak with your doctor about your options when it comes to hormonal birth control.
When to Seek Professional Help
Sometimes, you need a little extra help.
If you recognize that your symptoms are beyond your ability to control, and you’re losing multiple nights of sleep (or are just generally miserable), then there’s no shame in speaking with your healthcare provider to come up with a treatment plan.
Periods are tough enough. So is insomnia. You don’t need to suffer from either on your own.
If someone you cared about was dealing with major interruptions to their life and well-being, what would you want them to do?
We bet “suffer in silence/just deal with it” wasn’t one of your answers.
So, why should you?
Just because you’re experiencing insomnia before a period every month doesn’t mean you need to grin and bear it. There are many strategies you can use, including dietary changes, lifestyle changes, and supplements you can try.
Why not treat yourself to a little v-spa day before throwing in the towel?
And if your insomnia before period doesn’t respond to those methods, there are many medical interventions that can be tried.
Self-care and awareness are your best tools when it comes to dealing with any issue, but especially insomnia before periods.
You deserve to get your best rest, every night. We’d be happy to help.