It’s been a long day, and all you want to do is put on your comfiest pajamas, climb into bed and catch some Zz’s. However, despite your fatigue and strong desire to sleep, you can’t get any shut eye. You finally doze off, but then find yourself awake again looking at the glowing numbers on your bedside clock, rearranging your pillows for the umpteenth time and finally resigning yourself to the fact that it’s going to be another long night.
But why can’t you sleep if you are feeling so tired?
According to Michael Breus, PhD, ABSM, and WebMD sleep expert, your menstrual cycle may be the cause. During the month, levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which regulate your menstrual cycle, rise and fall, and this can have a direct impact on one’s sleep…or lack of it. This PMS symptom usually occurs a few days before your period begins when estrogen and progesterone levels drop. Other common PMS symptoms, such as bloating, cramps, backaches and breast tenderness may also contribute to restlessness and lack of sleep.
Beating the slumber time blues
Now that you know that PMS symptoms may be the reason for your wakefulness, you can take proactive steps to plan for it and help manage it.
- Try a sleep app. Although playing adrenaline-pumping video games won’t bring repose, there are apps designed to help the sleep deprived, such as Deep Sleep with Andrew Jackson, Sleepmaker Rain, Pzizz Sleep and others. Many of these sleep apps provide meditation exercises or peaceful sounds to help you relax.
- Keep a sleep journal. It’s important to track your sleeplessness to see if there is a pattern. Apps, including Sleepbot, Sleep As Android and Sleep Time+, can help. If there seems to be a link between your menstrual cycle and your sleepless nights, contact your doctor. He or she may prescribe birth control pills, sleeping pills or supplements to help ease your fatigue.
- Set a sleep schedule. Aim to wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day. This schedule can help you balance your internal clock.
- Exercise. Physical activity is a natural remedy for those longing for a good night’s rest. Go for a bike ride or walk, head to the gym or do some stretches at home. Not only is it good for your overall health, but it can help make you sleepy.
- Eat and drink smart. Consider what you are eating and drinking, not just right before bedtime, but several hours before, too. Avoid caffeine and chocolate, which are stimulants, as well as sugary, high-fat and spicy foods. Also stay away from alcohol, which can make you feel sleepy at first, and then becomes a sleep disruptor. Do eat more vegetables and fruits, fiber-rich foods and proteins. If you get the munchies right before bedtime, eat something light. It may be tempting to consume that big piece of fudge cake in the fridge, but it could interfere with your rest.
- Create a comfortable environment. First relax with a warm bath or shower, and then check your thermostat to ensure that your bedroom is at a pleasant temperature. Sleep specialists recommend that bedroom temperatures range between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Then turn off the electronics and spin your clock around so it is not facing you, block all ambient lights, reduce outside noise and cuddle up with a body pillow. Your bed should feel like your ultimate comfort zone, a tranquil space where you can let go and feel safe.
- Calm your mind. It’s not always easy to put the stresses of the day behind you. Take deep breaths. Do yoga. Meditate. Think good thoughts. You are more likely to rest when your mind is at ease.
- Change your morning schedule. If possible, avoid early morning meetings during times when you are experiencing sleeplessness. You don’t need the added stress of thinking you have to hurry out of bed to make an appointment.
A good night’s sleep is good for a healthy mind and body. However, PMS symptoms, such as sleeplessness, can be exhausting both mentally and physically. By using the tips above, you can help turn counting sheep into counting Zz’s.