A week or two before menstruation some women may wonder why they can’t sleep. Insomnia or interrupted sleep are, in fact, symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). So is PMS the reason why you can’t sleep?
According to statistics, over 33% of women suffer from insomnia or disturbed sleep during their menstrual cycles.
Read on to find out why, as well as tips to help when PMS gets in the way of a good night’s sleep.
What Is PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common condition that causes a range of symptoms from physical pain to emotional fluctuations. It is thought to affect over 90% of women approximately 7-14 days before menstruation.
Although the cause of PMS is not yet clearly defined, studies have shown that the symptoms are linked to changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle.
In addition to sleep interruptions and insomnia, other PMS symptoms include mood swings, breast tenderness, pelvic cramping, and food cravings. PMS symptoms can present as mild to intense, depending on the individual.
Why You Can’t Sleep When You Have PMS
While researchers don’t completely comprehend why PMS affects sleep, it is believed to stem from the changing hormone levels. Studies have shown that during the luteal phase, in particular, sleep worsens in comparison with the other menstrual phases.
Progesterone levels, for example, rise after ovulation and remain high until late in the luteal phase. Progesterone is also known to increase body temperature, which is believed to lead to interrupted sleep and sometimes even insomnia.
Another study found that levels of melatonin naturally changed during the menstrual cycle. Melatonin is directly linked with regulating the circadian rhythm, and alterations to this hormone are also thought to result in disruptions to regular sleep patterns.
Another study reported that some women journey through the sleep cycle less fluidly during PMS. For example, during the late luteal phase, less rapid eye movement (REM) sleep was recorded for some women. Without adequate REM sleep, it becomes more difficult for certain areas of the brain to focus, learn, and retain memories.
In addition to the changing hormone levels, studies also show that the rate at which hormone levels change before menstruation can also have an impact on sleep. Women who experienced sudden or fast hormone fluctuations just before a period, for instance, reported more disrupted sleep than others.
It has been found that PMS can also affect neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are essential for mood regulation. Low levels of these neurotransmitters can induce feelings of anxiety or depression, which in turn can cause insomnia or sleeping problems.
How To Improve Sleep During PMS
While PMS can certainly affect sleep, there are things you can do to prevent insomnia and sleep disruptions during this time of the month.
Develop A Regular Routine at Bedtime
Creating a regular bedtime routine, even when not experiencing PMS symptoms, can create an environment for a comfortable and uninterrupted sleep when PMS does occur.
Ongoing healthy habits, like eating light meals in the evening at least 4 hours before bedtime and cutting out caffeine after mid-afternoon will allow the body to slow down and prepare for bedtime.
Reducing screen time on the phone, as well as TV, will prepare the mind for sleep. As will taking care to minimize noise and bright lights in your bedroom at bedtime.
It is also beneficial to listen to some guided sleep meditation once you are in bed and ready to relax.
Maintain Your Circadian Rhythm
Essentially, the cells in your body are programmed to follow a 24-hour cycle of day to night and so on. This 24-hour cycle is called a circadian rhythm and it naturally adjusts your body temperature, appetite, sleep patterns, and energy levels to rise and fall according to certain times of the day.
One of the most important circadian rhythms is the sleep-wake cycle. And it can be disrupted by fluctuating hormones during PMS. However, ensuring that you’ve had sufficient exposure to daylight and vitamin D will help your circadian rhythm to comprehend when it is time for sleep.
Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner at regular times each day is also important to regulate the circadian rhythm. Skipping breakfast can especially confuse your circadian rhythm, for example.
Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and drinking enough water are always recommended to maintain a healthy lifestyle and sleep pattern. During PMS, however, these lifestyle habits are particularly helpful to encourage a good night’s sleep and avoid insomnia.
Natural Remedies for Insomnia During PMS
Myo-Inositol, often referred to as Vitamin B8, can be found in certain fruits, beans, nuts, and grains. As a supplement, particularly when combined with D-chiro-inositol, this naturally occurring sugar boasts a string of health benefits. One of them is improved sleep.
The Myo-Inositol & D-Chiro Inositol Supplement from Intimate Rose, for example, is designed specifically for treating women’s reproductive health. As well as helping to improve sleep and stave off insomnia, it also helps to rebalance hormones during PMS. It also contains added ashwagandha and vitamin D to improve mood swings.
In a 2020 randomized controlled trial, the impact of myo-inositol on the sleep quality of pregnant women was measured. And the results confirmed that myo-inositol supplements can indeed improve sleep quality, as well as sleep duration.
Chasteberry, also known as vitex, is another excellent herbal remedy for treating conditions associated with the female reproductive system. And it is believed to be especially effective in easing symptoms connected to premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
While studies are ongoing on these medicinal berries, results on the effectiveness of chasteberry for managing symptoms of PMS are extremely positive.
Since ancient Greek and Roman times, chasteberry has been known to significantly relieve the intensity of mood swings, breast tenderness, pelvic discomfort, and insomnia associated with PMS. And modern day chasteberry supplements such as Chasteberry/Vitex Supplement from Intimate Rose, are quickly becoming the most popular natural remedy for reducing PMS.
For example, in a 2017 study on natural remedies for PMS, it was recorded that vitex (chasteberry) improved PMS-related symptoms better than St. John’s Wort, pyridoxine, magnesium, and vitamin E.
While it is not yet clearly understood why sleep is affected by PMS, researchers believe that fluctuating hormone levels are directly linked to insomnia and interrupted sleep during this time of the month.
A healthy diet, regular exercise, and drinking plenty of water are recommended to manage sleep problems during PMS. Additionally, natural remedies such as myo-inositol and chasteberry are believed to reduce sleep interruptions as well as re-balance hormones during the menstrual cycle.
If you are considering taking a supplement to help with PMS, always consult with your doctor first to ensure they won’t interact with any existing medications.
National Center For Biotechnology - Sleep and Premenstrual Syndrome - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28239684/
Medline Plus - Premenstrual Syndrome - https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001505.htm
Science Direct/Sleep Medicine - Objective sleep interruption and reproductive hormone dynamics in the menstrual cycle - https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2014.02.003
International Journal of Endocrinology - Sleep, Hormones, and Circadian Rhythms throughout the Menstrual Cycle in Healthy Women and Women with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder - https://doi.org/10.1155/2010/259345
National Center For Biotechnology - The impact of myo-inositol supplementation on sleep quality in pregnant women - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32933356/
National University of Natural Medicine - Vitex for PMS and PMDD- https://nunm.edu/2019/05/chaste-tree-berry-pms/