We Need To Start Talking About Periods And Sleep Loss

Anyone who’s ever had periods knows the inconvenience – and often pain – of menstruation. But it’s not just during the day that periods can be a problem. They also impact our nights, from cramps that keep us awake to leaks that force us up and out of bed to change products and sometimes our bedding, too.

Midwife Sarah Toler, science content lead at the period app Clue, says the link between our sleep and menstrual cycles is an under-researched topic, but that there is a close relationship between the two. “One study found that people who consider their menstrual bleeding heavy had shorter sleep duration and sleep quality that was less than ideal,” she says. “Heavier bleeding was also associated with fatigue, stress, and depression.”

Toler is no stranger to losing sleep during her own period, she adds. “For me, the lack of sleep is mostly due to period cramps that always seem to sneak up in the early morning hours. If you’re bleeding heavily during the night, you’re going to wake up just from the moisture. Then you have a mess to clean up and once you get back into bed to sleep, your whole night is thrown off.”  

Sleep lost to period maintenance also has implications for our general health. Losing sleep on a regular basis can have serious consequences including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Other potential problems include obesity, depression, impaired immunity and lower sex drive.

One of the few studies into this area, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, found those with heavy periods get less sleep and a poorer quality of sleep when they do eventually drop off. The study took a look at the regularity and heaviness of bleeding in correlation to sleep, based on more than 500 menstruating women. 

“We found that habitual short sleep was associated with a 44% increase in menstrual irregularity, as well as 46% of women experiencing heavier bleeding, in comparison to women that get more normal amounts of sleep,” co-author Chidera Onyeonwu, from the University of Arizona, tells Huffpost UK. “We also found that women who slept worse overall showed a similar pattern.”

Starting out on the project, Onyeonwu was surprised at the lack of existing research. “Considering that half of the population is female, one would expect them to be able to have access to this information in order to properly inform themselves of what’s going on in their body and how to take care of it, especially being that we know how important sleep is and the adverse effects it can have if we don’t get enough,” she says.

And the issue, as ever, is personal. “Some nights I get home at 10 from work, get in bed by 11/11:30, and have to wake up the next day at 5 to be at work by 6,” says Onyeonwu. Add period disruption into this mix for a few days each month – and it’s easy to see why so many people are left exhausted.

“Information regarding sleep health should be just as easily accessible as information on how to lose weight, and we need to work towards making this a reality,” she says. “In our study, finding a correlation between the two variables [sleep and periods] was an important first step in paving the way for further research regarding this topic.” 

Now workplaces and governments need to put the time and effort in, she adds. “This means the government allocating more funding for research into women’s health and sleep, or even in the work schematic of things, looking into proper scheduling to minimise sleep deprivation and associated work related stress.”

Making workplaces more period-friendly

Navigating menstruation at work can be a tricky topic. While formalised period leave is often discussed as a solution, those who menstruate, particularly women, don’t want time off to affect job prospects or further entrench the gender pay gap. What they want it to feel comfortable having the conversation and to feel their needs are accommodated.

With the aim of educating employers, the period poverty charity, Bloody Good Period, has launched an initiative, Bloody Good Employers, a four-step training and certification programme to help bosses educate themselves and offer more proactive support in the workplace. Based on the charity’s findings, 89% of people experience anxiety of stress in the workplace due to their period. 

Joe Gray, Bloody Good Employers lead, tells HuffPost UK: “UK employers need to do a lot more to ensure that individuals experiencing menstruation at work are properly supported. Making sure you support colleagues is about much more than offering menstrual leave.

“As helpful as it will be to many women and people who menstruate who do need time off, it’s also about ensuring there are period products in toilets (in the same way you would supply toilet paper and soap without question) and having policies which don’t negatively impact those who suffer from painful and debilitating menstrual conditions.”


Accommodating periods might look like later starts, earlier finishes or a smaller work load when an employee has had only two hours sleep due to debilitating pain (from dysmenorrhea or endometriosis, for instance). Or it might mean a break in the day for someone who is suffering intense cramps. 

“Perhaps most crucially,” Gray adds, “this is about fostering a culture of open communication, which not only allows employees to be able to ask for more support, but encourages managers to educate themselves to better understand menstrual health. This will mean managers instigate more proactive conversations with their teams, taking the onus off the individual, so taking more responsibility for wellbeing and professional progress too.”

How to sleep better during your period 

Midwife Sarah Toler has advice for a range of different period sleep issues.

Painful cramping

“If you lose sleep because of painful cramps in the middle of the night, take an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) drug before you go to bed to prevent waking up in pain,” says Toler.

Heaving bleeding 

“If you think you your bleeding is heavy and you experience severe fatigue around the time of your period, this might be a sign of anaemia,” she says. “Your healthcare provider can run some simple blood tests to see if you are anaemic and they may recommend an iron supplement.” 

Leaks at night 

“If you’re losing sleep because your bleeding is heavy and you’re bleeding through your tampon, cup, or pad, invest in some period underwear designed for overnight,” says Toler. “They can seem pricey at first, but they are so worth it. You’ll get a better night’s sleep, plus you can rewear them for every period for about a year. If you can’t afford period underwear, a small box of underwear for urinary incontinence will provide the same benefit.” 

Disrupted sleep 

“If it’s fatigue that’s causing your disrupted sleep, stay away from caffeine and alcohol, two chemicals that can really upset your sleep/wake cycle. There is some science that sleeping in a very cold room with the temperature around 67°F (19°C) can help your body sleep more deeply, so you can also try this too.”

Read full article on: huffingtonpost.co.uk
Kanye West officially changes his name to ‘Ye’
The musician has been seeking a name change for some time
7 m
The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide...
Female US journalist subjected to smear attack by Kremlin media
Bizarre spying accusations made against top CNBC anchor by Kremlin-backed media
8 m
The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide...
Princess Charlotte to be ‘richest young royal with net worth of £3.6billion’
Princess Charlotte is set to become the richest young royal with an estimated net worth of £3.6billion, a new study revealed.
9 m
London News | London Evening Standard -...
South Dakota lawmakers summon key figures for Noem inquiry
South Dakota lawmakers have summoned two people who were present at a meeting Gov. Kristi Noem held last year that included her daughter, Kassidy Peters, and state employees who were overseeing Peters’ application for a real estate appraiser license
The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide...
Caravan owners 'hit by £1,000 hike in fees without warning' after pandemic
Owners at the Lyons Winkups Holiday Park in Towyn, North Wales, have seen fees rise from around £4,400 to just under £5,500 this year, which some say they cannot afford
Mirror Online: The intelligent tabloid....
Some defendants charged in Capitol riots are choosing to represent themselves
Accused rioters risk incriminating themselves in court, attorneys warn
The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide...
Scotland explosion: Rescue services called to house in Ayr after reports of huge blast
Emergency services are responding after an explosion at a house in Ayr.
The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide...
Bill Gates' daughter Jennifer required all 300 wedding guests to be vaccinated and take COVID tests
In an interview with Vogue that was published on Monday, Jennifer - or 'Jenn' - said it had been 'challenging' planning the event through 'the pandemic'.
Home | Daily Mail Online
Netflix goes down as viewers unable to access streaming platform: ‘This is the worst’
Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz,...
Lineker and Shearer troll Richards as two Man City full-backs named in Premier League top-10
Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Micah Richards got together for the latest Match of the Day: Top 10 podcast.
Manchester Evening News: Number one for...
Fans unhappy as Mel Gibson cast in ‘John Wick’ prequel: ‘I will not be watching’
Fans are unhappy on account of the actor-director’s personal views
The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide...
Gary Neville blasts Manchester United duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes for doing ‘nothing’ and moaning at team-mates against Leicester
'I saw them flailing their arms a few times at a couple of their team-mates which I didn't like.'
Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz,...
Only Connect fans totally stumped by outrageously hard opening question: ‘Are you kidding me?’
You have got to be joking.
Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz,...
Former Corrie star Sally Lindsay's fascination with bigamy storyline inspired new TV drama
Sally's role as cheated-on Shelly Unwin in Coronation Street led her to write The Madame Blanc Mysteries
Manchester Evening News: Number one for...
Londoner completes cross-UK triathlon in aid of hospital that saved his life
Jack Gilly has said he is “overwhelmed by people’s generosity” after raising over £12,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital.
London News | London Evening Standard -...
EastEnders spoilers: Billy Mitchell discovers Janine Butcher’s plan to destroy Jay Brown?
Janine's new scheme could be over before it's begun!
Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz,...
Sean Penn’s wife Leila George files for divorce after one year of marriage
Actors had ‘Covid wedding’ in July 2020
The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide...
Huge explosion destroys house with emergency services rushing to scene
We'll be bringing you the very latest updates, pictures and video on this breaking news story
Mirror Online: The intelligent tabloid....
Corrie car smash stunt praised as fans compare epic moment to Line of Duty
Coronation Street kicked off its Super Soap Week with a major car crash that resulted in Will Mellor’s evil Harvey escaping custody
Mirror Online: The intelligent tabloid....
Apple updates its insanely popular AirPods wireless headphones
They cost £169.
Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz,...
Ayr gas explosion: Police scrambled as huge blast rips through town
PEOPLE have been urged to avoid the area following a huge explosion at a property in Ayr, Scotland.
UK News | World News | Breaking News and...
Kerala floods: At least 28 dead after heavy rains
At least 28 people have died after heavy rains triggered flooding in the state of Kerala in southern India. 
Channel 4 News
Police speaking to more potential victims of paedophile Carson Grimes
Police are speaking to more possible victims of a convicted paedophile who have come forward after a Channel 4 documentary about the case.
Channel 4 News
‘We’re living in an era of rationality inequality’ – psychologist Steven Pinker
From misinformation to quack cures and everything in between, we appear to be living in a world where conspiracy theories are on the rise and opinion can feel more important than facts. 
Channel 4 News
Climate change deniers host conference in Sin City
Today US Vice-President Kamala Harris is travelling to Lake Mead in Nevada to talk up the President’s climate agenda. It’s the biggest reservoir in the US, but it’s drying up because of the twin effects of the heat and the drought, both of which are exacerbated by climate change. 
Channel 4 News
President Biden’s climate plans under threat from within his own party
In the US, President's Biden's climate agenda is under renewed threat from inside his party. 
Channel 4 News
Boy arrested over Glasgow teenager’s killing
A 16-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with the alleged murder of a 14-year-old boy in Glasgow.
Channel 4 News
Pizza Express ran out of bolognese sauce ingredients
With shortages becoming a feature of day-to-day life, another household name, Pizza Express, has fallen victim to supply chain issues.
Channel 4 News
Colin Powell ‘was a trailblazer’, says former CIA director David Petraeus
We spoke to General David Petraeus, a former United States army general, who was in New York.
Channel 4 News
Former US secretary of state Colin Powell dies of Covid complications at 84
Colin Powell, the first Black person to become America's Secretary of State, has died at 84, from Covid-related complications.
Channel 4 News
Government must ‘act now’ to bring down Covid cases, public health expert says
Is the UK going to have to change course on Covid in the face of rising cases, hospitalisations and deaths?
Channel 4 News
Politics has become ‘considerably more sour’ in recent years, says Labour MP Chris Bryant
We spoke to Conservative MP Karen Bradley and Labour MP Chris Bryant, and started by asking Karen Bradley if, at this moment, it didn't matter which party they were from.
Channel 4 News
MPs pay tribute to Sir David Amess after he was killed
Members of parliament have been paying tribute to the life of Sir David Amess in Westminster today in a special sitting of the House of Commons. 
Channel 4 News
Woman claims she got offered a Trader Joe’s job interview when she claimed to be white
TikTokker’s videos have received tens of thousands of views after allegations of unfair treatment
The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide...
Recruiter dishes details on unusual £60,000 job that 'doesn't require a degree' 
Eleni Pavlovic has racked up more than 70,000 followers on TikTok where she shares handy tips and tricks for how to ace interviews, improve your CV and job-search advice
Mirror Online: The intelligent tabloid....
Gary Neville highlights biggest mistake Solskjaer made during Leicester City clash
Manchester United were swept aside on their return to Premier League action at the King Power Stadium.
Manchester Evening News: Number one for...
Set for Life results: Winning £10,000-a-month lottery numbers for Monday, October 18
Tonight's winning numbers for Monday, October 18 have been revealed and one lucky winner could be the recipient of £10,000 a month for the next 30 years. Could it be you? Let's find out
Mirror Online: The intelligent tabloid....
Walmart will launch Black Friday sales weeks before Black Friday
Winter shopping season is starting earlier, say analysts
The Independent | News | UK and Worldwide...
'Arrest Bill Gates!' Protesters swarm Downing Street as they halt cars at Boris dinner
PROTESTERS blocked the road leading into Downing Street as Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosts a dinner party for leading business figures from around the world to promote global Britain.
UK News | World News | Breaking News and...
Apple unveil new products including flashy $1,999 MacBook Pro laptop
Apple have lifted the lid on their new products including two MacBook Pro models.
London News | London Evening Standard -...
Haiti gang kidnapped 17 mostly American missionaries, may demand $1million ransom each
Among the 17 missionaries abducted were seven women and five children as young as two years old
Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz,...
Apple unveils redesigned MacBook Pro with an iPhone-style notch
A new look for Apple's computer.
Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz,...
The Trick - true story behind 'Climategate' scandal and what happened to Phil Jones
Professor Phil Jones and his team were hacked by climate change deniers, who falsely claimed they were faking evidence about rising temperatures, leading to abuse, death threats and a conspiracy
Mirror Online: The intelligent tabloid....
'Tough one' - Bolton Wanderers skipper Antoni Sarcevic on playing through injury in Wigan loss
Wanderers lost 4-0 over the weekend to local rivals the Latics in League One and the Bolton skipper played with an ankle injury
Manchester Evening News: Number one for...
Manchester United transfer target Declan Rice compared with Roy Keane and Paul Scholes
Manchester United have identified Declan Rice as their number one target to bolster their midfield options.
Manchester Evening News: Number one for...
Tyson Fury's father John Fury slams Anthony Joshua over Oleksandr Usyk reaction
John Fury has issued a scathing assessment of Anthony Joshua's reaction to his defeat to Oleksandr Usyk
Manchester Evening News: Number one for...
PM urged to enact ‘David’s law’ against social media abuse after Amess’s death
Calls for crackdown on threats to public figures and an end to online anonymityBoris Johnson is facing calls to enact “David’s law” to crack down on social media abuse of public figures and end online anonymity in the wake of the killing of Sir David Amess.Dozens of MPs paid tribute in the House of Commons on Monday to the veteran Conservative backbencher who was stabbed to death on Friday, shedding tears, sharing uproarious anecdotes and venting anger over his death. Continue reading...
News, sport and opinion from the...