Young, healthy women often experience poorer sleep quality in the days leading up to their period, say the authors of a study presented March 23, 2019, at ENDO, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, in New Orleans.
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Dieting days before your period starts may worsen sleep, too
Moreover, women who are on a diet may make the situation worse, the New study have found. Restricting calories in the days leading up to menstruation has also been associated with less poor sleep.
The link between sleep, eating and hormonal flow
The results of this small study confirm the suspected relationship between sleep, food intake and the hormonal fluctuations that occur during the menstrual cycle. The National Sleep Foundation surveys She discovered that 25 to 33 percent of menstruating American women said they had more sleep disturbance in the week before and during their period.
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Sleep-wake cycle, repeat menstrual cycles
Anne E. said. Kim, lead author of the study and medical student at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. “It will affect focus and general mood. This sleep disturbance occurs on a periodic basis.”
Track sleep and menstrual periods in women
The study aimed to apply objective measures to assess the relationship between circulating hormones and sleep. The researchers collected data from 10 healthy women, ages 18 to 28, who had regular menstrual cycles, and tracked their sleep during two menstrual cycles.
The women wore sensors on their wrists to record activity and rest patterns. They also gave morning urine samples to measure levels of various hormones that fluctuate during the menstrual cycle. Study participants kept records of specific diets during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle (the first 14 days of the menstrual cycle). During one five-day diet, the women ate a normal diet of about 1,800 calories. During the second five-day diet, they consumed about 800 calories per day.
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Sleep may change during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle
The researchers found more sleep disturbances in the late luteal phase, which immediately precedes menstruation. Sleep efficiency, a measure of how well a person slept during the night, decreased by 3.3%, while the amount of time a person spent awake after initially sleeping increased by 15 minutes. The number of times women woke up during the night increased by 3 times per night.
The research addresses challenging concepts regarding the interaction between sleep, food, and female hormones, he says Natalie Datovic, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and an environmental researcher for the National Sleep Foundation. Dr. Dautowicz was not involved in the research.
“Given that women report more sleep disturbances than men and are more likely to develop insomnia, it is important to investigate how physiological changes that occur during menstruation contribute to poor sleep in this population,” says Dautowicz. “Given the challenges of studying sleep during the entire menstrual cycle, research studying this topic is both valuable and necessary. One of the strengths of the study is the use of the art of movement as an objective assessment of sleep.”
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Diet may spoil the body’s ability to sleep
Kim said calorie restriction also played a role in disrupting sleep. In an updated sample of 12 study participants, sleep efficiency decreased by 1.5% and increased wakefulness four minutes after sleep onset.
“This is important because there may be people who are eating these crazy diets,” Kim said. “The amazing thing we discovered is that even dieting for a short period of time had long-term effects across the menstrual phase.”
Dautowicz says the study findings on the effect of calorie restriction on sleep are particularly noteworthy. “The role of sleep as a contributor to energy provision during the menstrual cycle is a novel contribution to the literature.”
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Understand how hormonal shifts affect sleep quality
Kim said it’s not clear why natural hormonal fluctuations disrupt sleep. However, there may be spikes in the hormones estrogen and progesterone during the latter part of the menstrual cycle.
“This doesn’t make sense because in postmenopausal women, hormone therapy improves sleep,” she said. “We are not yet sure of the role of estrogen and progesterone.”
Related: 10 Symptoms of Menopause and Perimenopause
How can a menstruating woman deal with sleep problems?
Women of childbearing age can help offset sleep problems in the week before their period and during menstruation by practicing good sleep hygiene practices, such as not using a personal electronic device right before bed, and avoiding coffee and other stimulants in the evening.
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“Women should be aware that eating less food has an impact on sleep as well,” Kim said.