Do you have difficulty falling and staying asleep in the days leading up to your period? Your hormones may be why.
If you have premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), you are even more likely to experience sleep difficulties.
If you’re having a difficult time falling asleep or staying asleep in the days leading up to your period, you may have PMS insomnia.
“PMS insomnia” refers to an inability to sleep because of your menstrual cycle.
Symptoms of PMS insomnia may include:
- difficulty falling asleep
- waking up in the middle of the night
- difficulty returning to sleep
- feeling fatigued and sleepy during the day
- irritable or low mood
- poor concentration or memory
The following PMS symptoms may also keep you awake:
- tender or swollen breasts
- constipation or diarrhea
- sensitivity to noise and light
- mood symptoms, like anxiety, sadness, and irritability
Most people experience a milder form of these symptoms. However, a 2009 French study found that
Menstrual-related sleep problems tend to increase during the late luteal phase (1 to 2 weeks leading up to your period) compared with other menstrual cycle phases. The late luteal phase is the same time when PMS symptoms tend to arise.
These sleep difficulties are likely being driven by both the changing hormones during this time and their rate of change. These hormonal changes may worsen sleep due to their effects on body temperature and melatonin production.
Other menstrual-related reasons for lack of sleep may be physical symptoms (cramps, bloating) or mood symptoms (anxiety, depression) of PMS. In addition, research estimates heavy periods affect up to
The following risk factors may increase your risk of insomnia:
- being female
- older age
- family history of insomnia
- heavy caffeine use
- heavy alcohol use
- irregular bedtime
- lack of exercise
- high stress levels
- mental health conditions
Light therapy may be used for people with PMS insomnia. Light therapy can help regulate your circadian rhythm and release serotonin and melatonin, all of which may help with mood and sleep.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may also treat PMS. A
Since a hormone imbalance can contribute to insomnia and vice versa, it’s important to have your hormone levels checked via a simple lab test.
In particular, progesterone supplementation may be helpful for insomnia if you have a known progesterone deficiency or an excess of estrogen.
Hormone blood tests can check for the following hormones:
- follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
- thyroid hormones
PMS insomnia natural remedies
There are several things you can do at home to ease PMS insomnia:
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time throughout the week.
- Get regular exposure to daylight.
- Limit phone and TV use at night.
- Try all-natural sleep supplements like valerian, ashwagandha, CBD, kava, or theanine. (Be sure to check with a doctor first, though. Some of these remedies can interact with medications and other supplements.)
- Meditate daily to help manage stress.
- Exercise daily.
- Avoid caffeine close to bedtime.
- Eat a diet full of veggies and fruit, whole grains, and lean protein. Limit processed foods and sugary foods when you can.
People with PMS are at least twice as likely to have insomnia around the time of their period. This number jumps to 70% for those with PMDD.
Menstrual-related sleep problems are likely driven by fluctuating hormones as well as their rate of change. These hormonal changes may worsen sleep due to their effects on body temperature and melatonin production.
If you have PMS insomnia, consider talking with your primary care doctor or gynecologist about your symptoms so you can discuss your treatment options.