SLUMBER AND THE CURSE
The not-so anticipated visit from the monthly friend often has its own issues, especially when the friend is being an annoying, uncomfortable guest. The body announces, ‘Code Red’ and all the workers get in position. This results in a lot of hormonal changes leading to emotional, behavioural, and physical changes. One of the many discussed issues surrounding menstruation and its effects is its relation to sleep.
Gathering information from personal experience, I have come to observe some of these effects. Insomnia is quite common during these days, along with painful cramps, nausea and so on, obstructing the very much needed good nights’ sleep. Symptoms definitely differ from person to person, some have it better, some have it way worse.
With the ongoing lockdown and changes in lifestyle patterns, sleep cycles for everyone have definitely been affected and made worse for those of us having to deal with our periods. The world has come to a stand-still, but our menstrual cycles chose to go on. Unable to get a blink of sleep, staying awake, indulging in the international sport of scrolling through social media seems to be the best alternative to sleep.
While the relation between PMS, hormones and sleep is still being studied by experts, I have attempted to curate down below a list of techniques I use to help me deal with Satan’s glorious waterfall, for the time being. I hope these help you too!
Periods often make me irritable and annoyed. The urge to sleep is often contradicted and obstructed by the nuisance called- ‘my periods.’ However, one thing that has helped me the most is sipping on hot, fragrant, flavoured tea, usually around thirty minutes before I go to sleep. Especially, green teas infused with hibiscus, cinnamon, clove, peppermint, or chamomile are my go to’s. These teas are mostly known for their properties such as increasing blood flow, soothing cramps and so on. Additionally, green tea is loaded with antioxidants and will always keep you hydrated. The warmth and comfort a cup of tea provides are more than enough to combat the period insomnia.
Often cramps may be aggravated due to an unsuitable sleep position, keeping one awake and therefore, obstructing the sleep cycle. I often end up sleeping on my stomach only to realise that that is the very thing causing discomfort, denying me the splendid pleasure of sleep. Instead, to sleep better during the ‘Crimson Tide’, I have started sleeping on my side, in a foetal position. If the cramps get worse, apart from taking pain medication, keeping a pillow between my legs helps me a lot. A hot water bottle, also known as ‘universal menstruation saviour’, is really helpful to combat the back pain and cramps that would have kept me awake.
It is not always the cramps that keep people awake during their periods. Even in the absence of cramps, there are always certain aspects which inhibit from achieving a fulfilling sleep. Having a proper, de-cluttered, stress-free environment is always necessary, regardless of being on the exhausting period days. I always make sure that the temperature of my room is well adjusted, not too cold, not too hot. I also make sure to have proper dim lighting in my room to get me into the mood for sleep.
A perfect atmosphere makes all the difference. It also helps me to stay away from my phone and social media for at least one hour before I go to sleep. Cleaning up my room and keeping my space organised often does the trick for me as I myself reduce irritants present in my environment and surroundings, granting me a blissful sleep.
While menstruating, hormones often behave like prepubescent teens and tend to unnecessarily act up resulting in chemical imbalances in the body. This can often cause stress and anxiety issues. I have frequently found myself in this position, tossing and turning in my bed, sometimes with extra energy at the most unexpected hours after midnight which hinders me from being able to sleep.
To counter stress and mood swings that come along with ‘mother nature’s gift’, I often resort to journaling, painting, gardening and other activities which help me de-stress beforehand and therefore, clear my mind and help me sleep better. A shower with warm water also has amazing calming effects and gets me right into the sleeping mood. Music is one of the best solutions. It always helps to create a sleep playlist. While it may take some effort, it is often a foolproof method when it comes to achieving that much-needed beauty sleep.
EXERCISE AND DIGESTIVE ISSUES
Exercise! It has been said a thousand times over, but it is only because it actually works, every time. Exercise definitely makes one tired and therefore, allows for better sleep. Exercising, in any form, be it running or yoga, increases blood circulation, de-stresses the mind and is often seen to calm the cramps. So, exercise. Period.
Often the hardships faced during periods are accompanied by the pesky little monsters called digestive issues. For this, I make sure to change and modify my diet in accordance with my menstrual cycle. I cut out heavy, fatty, and oily foods from my diet for the time being and replace them with healthier alternates, especially probiotics. Exercising also helps here, as it supplements the functions of the digestive system. All of this helps me settle the awful grumble in my tummy allowing me a silent journey into the dreamland.
These tips and tricks make ‘that time of the month’ a little more bearable for me during ‘that time of the day(night)’, and so I hope they help you out as well. Other than all of this, it is essential to keep a consistent sleep schedule, avoid excess caffeine, reduce irritants in your surroundings and develop a healthy and functional bedtime routine to get you through ‘Shark Week’. However, if nothing works, it doesn’t hurt to depend on the age-old, tried and tested, the traditional method of …counting sheep.
How many hours of sleep should one get at night?
Many experts and research reports have recommended that an adult should get at least 7-8 hours of sleepy daily to maintain a healthy quality of life.
How should I sleep during my periods?
It is best to sleep in a foetal position by rolling on your side and tucking in your arms and legs as this often helps relieve tension and calm the cramps.
Do you sleep more on your periods?
It depends on person to person. While hormonal changes may cause insomnia in some, it may cause hypersomnia in others. What is important is to get that 8 hours of healthy sleep at the end of the day.
Written by Preeti Gokhale
The author is a sleep enthusiast. When not writing about sleep they prefer to either sleep or play games online. They also like to eat pizza and drink cranberry juice. You can often spot them on their way to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. You can connect with them via email!