insomnia period

Horrible Insomnia Before Period

If you experience horrible insomnia before your period, you're not alone. A large percentage of women report sleep difficulties before their period begins.  In this article, we’ll explain possible root causes of this type of insomnia and possible interventions to optimize your sleep during this time.

Basics of the Menstrual Cycle

In order to understand why you may experience insomnia before your period, it’s crucial to recognize the basics of your cycle. Your menstrual cycle has four phases:
  • Menstruation: This is your first day of bleeding known as your period. On average, menstruation lasts about five days. 
  • Follicular phase: Estrogen slowly rises as an egg cell develops inside your ovary. This phase overlaps with menstruation and typically lasts 12-18 days.
  • Ovulation: Estrogen and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) spike causing your ovary to release a mature egg.
  • Luteal phase: Progesterone takes over as the dominant hormone. This phase lasts about two weeks from ovulation. If a woman does not become pregnant, progesterone levels fall triggering the beginning of another menstrual cycle
From beginning to end, a healthy menstrual cycle typically lasts between 24 and 35 days. 

What Causes Insomnia Before Your Period?

Low levels of progesterone are usually the root cause of sleep difficulties before your period. Your body must ovulate to produce progesterone, and this hormone is highest in the luteal phase (second half) of your menstrual cycle. Progesterone is known as your calming hormone and has many benefits like lowering anxiety and promoting healthy sleep. 
Certain conditions are associated with low progesterone levels and contribute to insomnia. Let’s review a few of them. 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a hormonal disorder in which women may experience irregular or absent ovulation. This presents as a very long follicular phase and cycles that last 35 days or more. Without ovulation, your body does not produce progesterone. If and/or when your body does eventually ovulate, a weak rise in progesterone can cause insomnia a few days before your period. Learn more about the different types of PCOS.

Perimenopause

Perimenopause is a time of hormonal transition lasting an average of four years before your periods stop altogether (i.e. menopause). During perimenopause, progesterone levels usually decline first. Since irregular ovulation is common during this time, there may be months when you do not ovulate and experience insomnia more often. However, even if you do ovulate, your body may still not produce enough progesterone.  Learn more about perimenopause in our articles: Perimenopause Fatigue and Perimenopause Anxiety in the Morning.

Luteal Phase Deficiency 

Some women regularly ovulate but suffer from a progesterone deficiency known as a luteal phase defect.  In this case, your body may produce weak amounts of progesterone after ovulation, or your progesterone levels may drop too quickly. A healthy luteal phase should last around 12 to 16 days. Women with luteal phases of 11 days or less often suffer from symptoms of progesterone deficiency like infertility, recurrent pregnancy loss, spotting before your period, and insomnia. 

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormones to meet the body’s demand. Thyroid hormones control many bodily functions like metabolism, body temperature, and your menstrual cycle. You need adequate amounts of thyroid hormone to produce progesterone. If you have insomnia and suspect low progesterone levels, we recommend asking your doctor to run a full thyroid panel to screen for hypothyroidism.  We often order a full thyroid panel on members of our functional medicine program.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

PMS is a group of symptoms that occur in women, typically the days or week leading up to your period. However, PMS is not a root cause of insomnia. Rather, we view PMS as a clue and sign to investigate further. Oftentimes, PMS symptoms are due to hormonal imbalances, like low progesterone.

Interventions to Reduce Insomnia

If you suspect a progesterone deficiency, you can request a progesterone test from your OB/GYN. We recommend testing progesterone about seven days after you confirm ovulation. In our practice, we also use dried urine tests to evaluate progesterone status.

Boidentical Progesterone

Bioidentical progesterone is chemically identical to the form your body produces and often comes in the form of an oral pill, vaginal suppository, or cream. It’s best to work with a qualified health provider when using progesterone supplements as there is a specific way to use and dose this hormone. Plus, progesterone obtained from a prescription is generally much more effective than over-the-counter alternatives. While this hormone replacement can eliminate insomnia before your period, it’s also important to look deeper into why your body is not producing adequate progesterone.

Regular Ovulation

Ovulation is a complex process that requires the right amount of nutrients and environment. To encourage regular ovulation and progesterone production, we recommend following our PFC method to promote blood sugar balance. This method ensures you have a protein, fat, and fiber-rich carbohydrate with each meal and snack. If you have PCOS, you may also find success in using Ovasitol to promote healthy ovulation.
ovasitol

Ovasitol

AKA Magic Period Dust
$80.00

Lower Stress Levels

If the body does not feel safe, it will not ovulate. Chronic stress can contribute to irregular or absent periods and may be associated with low progesterone levels. We recommend implementing at least one type of stress-lowering activity each day like deep breathing, meditation, or journaling. If you’re not sure where to start, consider trying a smartphone app,  like Calm or Headspace, to guide you through meditation or breathing exercises. We may also recommend supplements, like magnesium or ashwagandha, to lower stress hormones and promote relaxation in the body.

Sleep Hygiene

If you struggle with insomnia before your period, focus on optimal sleep hygiene as your body may be extra sensitive to sleep disruptors during this phase of your cycle. Keep your bedroom cool and dark, avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening, and limit screen exposure before bed. Our Sleep Support supplement also offers a calming blend of herbs and minerals known to promote quality sleep.

Support Your Mitochondria

Mitochondria are the “powerhouse” of your cells. Sex hormone production, including progesterone, starts in the mitochondria. You can support the health of your mitochondria by eating more antioxidant-rich foods, reducing BPA (plastic) exposure, and eating omega-3 rich fish every week.
ashwagandha

Ashwagandha

Feel calm & relaxed with this powerful adaptogenic herb
$41.00
sleep support

Sleep Support

Sleep deep without the “sleep hangover”
$29.00

Key Takeaways

If you experience insomnia before your period, low progesterone levels may be to blame. You can support healthy progesterone production by using the PFC meal planning method, lowering stress levels, prioritizing sleep hygiene, and optimizing your mitochondrial health.

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