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Sleep & Your Cycle

by Say Yes to Nourish about a month ago in body

Time to catch some really good zzz's!

Sleep & Your Cycle
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Just like your skin and your energy levels, your sleep patterns change throughout the menstrual cycle. While it can feel like your energy and sleep are shifting forever without any sort of pattern, you can (and should) sync your cycle with your sleep self-care! In this post, we’ll break down the whys of each sleep change and tips that support the rest you need and deserve.

The menstrual phase begins when your period starts. Both progesterone and estrogen levels are low, and energy levels are icky all day long. It might be harder to fall asleep due to pain and bloating, and mood changes may increase anxiety so we’re awake all night worrying. Even serotonin, our happy hormone, is impacted during menstruation – and serotonin is important for healthy sleep! Using a melatonin supplement (for some individuals) or experimenting with biphasic sleep might be a worthwhile engagement to promote better sleep when you can get your eyes closed. Taking a magnesium supplement may also help regulate muscle function and promote relaxation that is helpful to stay rested in this phase. It’s important to prioritize pain management as well, whether this is via pharmaceuticals, cannabis products, massage or other favourite methods. Keeping pain controlled helps the body to relax when it needs rest, and avoids spending all of your energy fighting pain, just to crash and wipe out when you desperately need to be functional.

In the follicular phase, estrogen and progesterone levels begin to rise. Progesterone is a naturally relaxing hormone and it’s common to feel drowsier during this phase – it becomes a little easier to fall asleep at night and keep energy levels up during the day. Once ovulation hits, energy is through the roof at night and falling asleep is a no-brainer when the sun goes down. Avoiding high-energy activity before bedtime, or stimulants such as caffeine can help you settle easier. Sticking to a regular bedtime also regulates sleep-wake cycles.

Once an egg has been released and the luteal phase begins, the body is preparing for a possible pregnancy. Progesterone continues to increase and stabilize during this phase, so the natural relaxing properties are at their highest and sleeping stays easy. We might go to sleep feeling the right level of tired and wake up at just the right level of energy – generally feeling well-rested and like we can tackle our day. During the early part of this phase, maintaining that regular bedtime from the follicular phase is critical! If you are working on circadian cycling using adaptogens, this is the phase to do it, as you are likely to be more responsive with a settled routine and minimal outlying factors.

Right before a new period starts and we enter the menstrual phase again, hormone levels drop off creating significant fatigue. It can feel like being hit with a wall of tiredness, and often occurs out of the blue! Prostaglandin production begins, causing PMS symptoms such as cramps and low back pain. Early breast tenderness may even be an issue, making it difficult to feel comfortable during the day and especially at night. Brain fog and irritability often contribute to feeling “overtired” and keep us out of deep, restful sleep. We often are left feeling cranky all day long because no matter how long we sleep for, we just can’t seem to feel rested! Having a warm bath or shower before bed can help tone down the fight or flight response we may experience as part of period stress, and prepares the mind and body to settle before lying down. Spending this time to warm up a heating pad for sleeping, or using muscle relaxing creams and scents as part of bedtime skincare can carry into rest and support better sleep quality.

If you’re struggling with sleep hygiene and lifestyle factors that may be contributing, let’s talk! I help women get their hormones rebalanced so they can ditch their PMS symptoms for good and feel incredible - you can book with me by contacting [email protected]

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Say Yes to Nourish

nour - ish: Physical, mental & social wellness provided by food, feminism & fun. Emily Opthof, RD. All opinions are those of the author.

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