Many women complain of insomnia a few days before getting their periods. “The actual reason behind this feeling is changing levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone”, says Michael Breus, PhD, ABSM, a sleep expert. “These changes in hormones can affect an individual's ability to fall asleep, and also affects the individual's quality of sleep”, says Breus.
According to the National Sleep Foundation poll conducted in 2007, 33% of women have disturbed sleep during their periods. A lack of sleep affected 16% women, according to the poll, because of sleep problems. Kathryn Lee, RN, PhD, associate dean of research at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing and women's sleep expert, explains that the level of estrogen increases during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, and this acts like an energy supplement. During ovulation, there is a sudden drop in the levels, which results in sleep disturbances for many women.
After ovulation, there is an increase in the levels of progesterone, the hormone that can induce sleep. A few days before a period, levels of both estrogen and progesterone fall resulting in sleep troubles. According to Lee, women who had a more abrupt withdrawal of progesterone or had a higher amount of it, and dropped drastically had insomnia.
Lee recommends that women who have insomnia during their menstrual cycle should:
- Exercise – Physical activity helps to encourage deep sleep. It is during this sleep that the hormone for cell regeneration is secreted.
- Avoid alcohol – During ovulation and before a period, the levels of progesterone are very high, which can exacerbate the effect of alcohol. Having a glass of wine in the evening may help to induce sleep, but drinking alcohol in the night may lead to a disturbed sleep.
- Keep a sleep diary – It is better to keep a record of the days when you have trouble sleeping, or when you wake up tired with fatigue.