Hello and welcome back to Sleep Hacks, where we give you simple tips to sleep better at night so you can tackle your days as your best self. My name is Alexa and today we are going to learn a little more about how sleep quality is impacted by the menstrual cycle and simple tips to get through those fluctuations. And if you’re watching this and don’t have one, keep watching. BECAUSE, empathy makes the world go ‘round.
As a very quick overview, the menstrual cycle can be summarized as the phases associated with the rise and fall of hormones as the body prepares for ovulation or possible pregnancy. When this is not the case, the body moves forward with menstruation or as well all know it, the period, which actually marks the start of the entire cycle. The important takeaway here is that hormone fluctuation can greatly impact other bodily functions and overall well being and being aware of how this affects you or someone you know can help to simplify lifestyle and wellness choices. I like to think that a chart of hormone fluctuation over the course of a cycle would resemble an abstract art piece.
The female body contains 50 different hormones that control the stop and start of certain biological functions, but estrogen and progesterone are the two that are involved with the bodily changes experienced in the menstrual cycle. Directly before and also during menstruation, both are low and on top of the other unfortunate symptoms like cramping and digestive issues during this stage, sleep can be difficult. Light exercise for just 30 minutes during the day will help to promote deeper sleep at night. If cramping is what is keeping you up at night, heat is your friend. Whether it’s an old school hot water bottle or a heated blanket, you’ll surely see benefits after helping your muscles relax. Ibuprofen or its stronger cousin Naproxen are often recommended for the inflammatory pain associated with menstrual cramps. If you are like me and have too sensitive of stomach to use those types of medicines often, some would recommend taking a turmeric supplement, which contains the chemical curcumin that is associated with helping to decrease certain types of inflammation in the body. Now, as with any supplement, do your research, as they are not FDA approved.
Other cases of hormone fluctuation affecting sleep during the menstrual cycle have been attributed to the ovulatory phase. When your estrogen and progesterone levels reach their peak, energy levels have been recorded as also being high, and sometimes when trying to fall asleep, too high. Feelings of restlessness physically (sometimes with similarities to restless leg syndrome), even if your mind is headed towards sleep are fairly common. Light exercise like a brisk walk or swim is the recommendation here as well, but do not forget to stretch!
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