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Sleep and The Menstrual Cycle

Sleep and The Menstrual Cycle
28 February 2023 Samantha Anderson

Ahead of World Sleep Day this 17 March, menstrual lifestyle expert at WUKA, Ruby Raut, explores the relationship between sleep and the menstrual cycle and shares her top tips to feeling well rested, no matter the time of the month.

With World Sleep Day (17 March) approaching and with as many as six in ten women aged 25-59 claiming they don’t get enough sleep, there’s never been a better time to reexamine our sleep routines.

Having a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding screens before bed, and reducing caffeine intake throughout the day are well known ways to help us sleep better, but how many of us have also considered the impact of our menstrual cycle?

Throughout the month, women’s hormone levels fluctuate in line with their menstrual cycle, impacting on (among other things) their ability to enjoy both quality and quantity of sleep. Without understanding how these changes impact sleep, it can be tricky for women to work out what’s best for their body and how to adapt their routine to get the most restful night.

Ahead of World Sleep Day, Ruby Raut, menstrual lifestyle expert at pioneering reusable period wear brand, WUKA, explores the relationship between sleep and the menstrual cycle and shares advice on how to ensure a good night’s sleep throughout every stage of your cycle.

“For most women, a menstrual cycle lasts between 24 and 38 days,” says Ruby, “and during this time, the body goes through many hormonal changes. Fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone can cause changes in temperature, energy levels and mood – all factors which affect our ability to enjoy a peaceful night’s slumber.

“Hormone regulation is a key area of bodily maintenance that occurs during sleep, so getting good quality shuteye is essential for our hormonal health. In fact, interrupted sleep can also be a symptom of any number of hormonal conditions, so the relationship works both ways: Good sleep = good hormones and vice versa.

“Having a better understanding of the hormonal changes that take place throughout the month can therefore be a game changer for those struggling with sleep.”

Read on for Ruby’s guide to sleep and the menstrual cycle…

Understanding how your hormones impact sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation , women are much more likely than men to report sleep problems or feeling fatigued. Whilst there are likely multiple factors contributing to this, hormones have a complex part to play.

The rise and fall of the female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, throughout the menstrual cycle, can have a huge effect on quantity and quality of sleep.

Progesterone has sleep-promoting effects, so, during parts of the cycle when the hormone is high – throughout the follicular phase (from the first day of your period up to ovulation) and just after ovulation – women tend to feel more sleepy and find it easier to drop off.

The luteal phase comes after ovulation and ends with menstruation. During the second half of this part of our cycle – so in the days just before your period – progesterone levels fall dramatically. Low progesterone disturbs both the ability to fall asleep and enjoy good quality slumber through the night.

Combined with low levels of progesterone, the occurrence of PMS symptoms (cramps, bloating, sensitivity to noise & light, headaches, increased anxiety or irritability, joint pain, changes in appetite) ahead of and during your period make it even more challenging to achieve comfortable and unbroken sleep, so make sure to take it easy and take time to rest during this stretch of your cycle.

Cycle tracking

A good start to understanding how your hormones could be affecting your sleep is to keep a cycle diary.

There are a few different cycle tracking methods; one of the easiest being to monitor body temperature, which rises during ovulation. The exact variation is unique to every woman , however, the average ‘normal’ body temperature is around 36.1°C (97°F), rising to 36.4°C – 37°C during ovulation.

Once you know where you are in your cycle, you can move on to keeping a record of your sleep. Make a note of whether you fell asleep as soon as your head hit the pillow or if you spent the night wide awake.

You’ll likely find that during the luteal phase – just before a period – you’ll experience more trouble falling asleep, have more disturbed sleep, or get less quality sleep compared to the follicular phase, but the mere fact of understanding how your cycle aligns with your sleeping patterns will help account for changes, relive anxieties, and allow you to adjust your schedule or sleeping environment accordingly.

For example, when in the luteal phase, aim for less late-night drinks with friends and more early nights to bed with a book! Similarly, you’ll be able to preempt the increase in body temperature, so you can adjust room temperature, nightwear and bedding layers to suit.

Flow while you flow

It’s well known that keeping active can help you sleep better, but exercise is often the last thing women feel like doing whilst on their period. Instead of stopping altogether, we simply need to adapt the type of exercise we enjoy.

Replace strenuous cardiovascular workouts with movements that put less strain on the body. Yoga is a great way to unwind after a hectic day and is an appropriate and gentle enough exercise to incorporate as part of your bedtime routine regardless of where you are in your cycle. Make sure, though, that you’re focusing on flows, yin or yoga nidra – all milder forms of movement that allow you to focus on your breath while releasing tension in your body. Integrating even just ten minutes of yoga into your nighttime routine can help calm your mind when it’s racing, whilst also helping to relieve the physical symptoms of PMS such as cramps and lower back pain.

Gentle exercise will also give you a healthy dose of endorphins – aka the body’s happy hormone – so it’s a win-win!

Save your bed for sleeping

With many of us now regularly working from home, it can be tempting to allow our bed to become our ‘home office’. Women can also attribute this extra need for comfort, in part, on hormones…

During the second half of the menstrual cycle, when oestrogen levels peak and then quickly fall again, we often feel more sluggish, making the allure of working from bed all the harder to resist.

Despite the initial cosiness, however, working from bed has several drawbacks: It damages your posture, encourages a more sedentary day, and can also negatively impact your sleep come bedtime.

It’s important to create boundaries in all aspects of life, and establishing a productive workspace is no different. Clear mental and physical boundaries between spaces carved out for work and rest will ensure that your body registers when it’s time to focus vs when it’s time to sleep.

Sleep positions for pain relief

Unfortunately, many of us are familiar with the debilitating abdominal pain that heralds the arrival of our period. Period cramps occur as the uterus contracts to shed its lining and these pains can disturb sleep or make it more difficult to get to sleep.

Changing your sleep position can help hugely. Curling up with your knees to your chest in the foetal position helps skeletal muscles around your abdomen relax, taking pressure off the abdominal muscles. Releasing tension in this way can lead to fewer cramps, meaning you don’t have to worry about pain keeping you up at night.

If you’re feeling bloated, however, pulling the knees into the body may not always help. In this case, lying on your back and stretching out your legs will decompress the stomach and help the body release unwanted gas.

Another effective way to ease cramps is to place a hot water bottle on your stomach or wrap a wearable one around your body whilst you sleep. Applying heat to the abdomen increases blood flow, helping to ease pain.

Ultimately, the most powerful way to find a sleeping position to ease your pain is by listening to your own body. If you find yourself tossing and turning during your period, test out a few positions using pillows for support to work out where your body breathes the biggest sigh of relief.

Remove the fear of nighttime leaks

The fear of bleeding onto white sheets can be stressful. Whether it’s lying awake worrying about whether or not we’ll bleed in the night, frequently waking to frantically check the bed, or even setting regular alarms to make sure you change your pad or tampon on time, the worry over leaking inevitably disturbs our sleep. But it doesn’t have to…

If you’ve tracked your period and know when you’re likely to start bleeding or when the flow will be most heavy, you can feel prepared and protected by switching to darker coloured sheets, using a mattress protector and/or choosing the right nighttime menstrual products.

Consider switching from pads or tampons, which are more prone to leaking, to quality period pants. Both comfortable and practical, leakproof period pants won’t need to be changed in the night, will help alleviate the stress associated with leakage, and will help you rest much easier on the nights that you’re bleeding.

Quality sleep is a major factor in determining the level of both physical and mental wellbeing, so it’s crucial we’re all making quality sleep a priority.

Whether environmental or through rituals and routines, achieving quality sleep starts with creating the right conditions. However, we also need to understand and listen to the individual needs of our bodies.

Hacking your sleep – regardless of the time of the month – will mean better sleep and as such, a better you, giving you the confidence to wake up, kick ass every single morning, so be sure it’s top of your to-do list this World Sleep Day and beyond.

For more information visit


Notes to editors:

  • WUKA Co-Founder, Ruby Raut is available for interview
  • Please contact the WUKA team should you be interested in receiving product samples for review or for competition prizes

For further press information, please contact:
Rebecca Claxton | Anna Nyman | Elsa Findlay | Julie Aguilera Kemp
T: +44 (0)203 440 8930
E: [email protected]

About WUKA
Founded in 2017 by husband and wife team, Ruby Raut and Dave Slocombe, WUKA is the UK’s leading period wear brand and was the first in the UK to produce fully leak-proof reusable period underwear that completely replaces the need for pads and tampons. Just one pair of WUKA period pants can save 200 single-use plastic-riddled disposables from going to landfill or polluting our oceans.

WUKA stands for Wake Up Kick Ass; because nothing should hold women back when on their period. The brand strives to empower the menstruating population, improve access to quality, sustainable period products, eliminate period poverty, and remove period shame and stigma.

Offering a range of award-winning undies to suit different menstrual flows, WUKA period pants hold from two to six tampons worth of period blood; the highest absorbency of any other period products. They are also available in the most extensive range of sizes on the market – from XXS, right up to 6XL.

WUKA also offers period leggings, period sports shorts, period swim bikini briefs, and a number of period accessories and gifts, including a wearable hot water bottle, wash bags, period wellness sets, and starter kits for tweens and teens.

All WUKA products are mindfully created, using the highest quality planet-friendly fabrics, to be both great for the body and good for the environment. From the Better Cotton Initiative, Organic Certified, to Vegan, PETA approved and certified Carbon Neutral+, WUKA underwear is all accredited and designed with the future in mind. Equality, inclusivity, and social & environmental responsibility are at the heart of everything WUKA does.

WUKA is an award winning business and in 2022 received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development, as well as the Sustainability Entrepreneur of the Year Award, for co-founder Ruby, at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

WUKA is available in Morrisons, Superdrug, Planet Organic, Urban Outfitters, and a range of independent zero waste and fashion retailers. You can also purchase WUKA products directly on from