The Power of Sleep: Your Health and Your Cycle

By Alison Ferrell

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The Power of Sleep: Your Health and Your Cycle

Busy schedules, social media, active lives, and a multitude of other factors can affect the amount of sleep you get. You may even find yourself sacrificing sleep for one of them. If you truly consider the importance of sleep, you may not be so quick to give up precious restful minutes.

Sleeping doesn’t only allow us to rest and recharge; it’s a vital process for our overall well-being. Sleeping affects nearly all of the tissues and systems in the body, including your hormones and menstrual cycle.

Sleep is an integral part of your self-care routine and a powerful ally in achieving holistic health and period wellness.

Why Do You Need Sleep?

It was once believed that sleep was simply a time of dormancy when the body and the brain were at rest. There is now overwhelming evidence that you are actually highly active during sleep. Your physical body is not voluntarily working, but there is quite a different story going on inside. 

The short answer is that you need sleep for your brain to function. While you’re sleeping, your brain is regenerating. Studies show that individual neurons in the brain work to repair any damage to their nucleus during sleep. The nucleus of these brain neurons contains the DNA that, if damaged, contributes to aging, disease, and poor organ function.

Your brain is quite literally rewiring itself while you sleep. 

The rest of your body is also at work outside of your brain while you’re catching those z’s. Specific processes in the body increase function and production during sleep.

Sleep and Hormones

Because sleep is so tightly connected to the endocrine system, hormones are susceptible to your sleep habits. Here are some key hormones associated with sleep and a heads up on how they function in the body.

Insulin

Insulin is a hormone created by your pancreas and regulates how much glucose is in your bloodstream. Insulin keeps glucose levels stable for vein and organ health.

Thyroid hormone

The thyroid hormone is responsible for regulating your metabolism. It also aids in muscle and digestive function.

Leptin and Ghrelin

These two hormones are integral to your appetite. Leptin alerts your body when you’re full, and ghrelin tells you when to eat.

Cortisol

Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and its main job is to regulate blood pressure and help give you the energy to handle stress. However, too much of it can occur from lack of sleep which can be problematic.

Sex Hormones: Testosterone, Estrogen, Progesterone

These hormones are responsible for reproductive and sexual health. They also can affect bone and joint health and mood.

The Power of Sleep: Your Health and Your Cycle

Effects of Quality Sleep

When you are conscious of and consistent with good sleep habits, your body is reaping benefits in all sorts of ways. 

Weight

Two hormones that help you regulate your appetite are tied to your sleep schedule. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body produces ghrelin, a hormone that boosts appetite. Leptin, the hormone that helps you realize you’re full, is made while asleep. It’s no wonder that a top weight loss tip is getting adequate rest.

Heart

Plenty of sleep will help keep cortisol levels at bay. This hormone alerts your heart to work harder and faster. Spikes in cortisol can cause heart attacks and stroke.

Mood 

Lack of sleep can very simply make you cranky. Studies show that individuals deprived of sleep reported more irritability and sadness. Feeling refreshed will 

Memory

While your body is resting, your brain processes events and information and forms memories. Research on learning and the brain has shown that sleep improves remembering and recalling information. Scientists also hypothesize that the brain catalogs memories and stores information it has learned and experienced throughout the day.

Exercise

Sleep gives your body a chance to recover and conserve energy to prepare for the next round of exercise. Also, muscle repair from working out, or just general wear and tear, happens during sleep. 

Immune System

Your immune system increases the production of cytokines. These are proteins that are released to stimulate the immune system.

Effects of Insufficient Sleep

Not getting enough sleep can take its toll on the brain and the body. If you’ve ever experienced a sleepless night, you know you feel less than your best. Be aware that continued sleep deficiency can lead to more than just a sluggish day at work.

The effects of sleep depravity can range from minor inconveniences to dangerous health consequences. 

The most common symptoms of lack of sleep include:

  • Drowsiness during the day
  • Slowed thinking
  • Shorter attention span
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor decision making 

A few sleepless nights may have had you feeling some of those effects; however, continual sleep loss can be much more grave for your health.

Severe conditions that can result from chronic lack of sleep:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity
  • Immunodeficiency
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Mental health disorders like anxiety and depression

These are extreme circumstances, but they highlight that sleep can have a powerful effect on health and wellness.

Should I Get More Sleep During My Period?

Because of the overall health benefits sleep provides, it is a good idea to be intentional about getting enough quality sleep during the menstrual phase of your cycle. Feelings of fatigue and an overall less rested feeling are often reported during menstruation. So, yes, getting more sleep while you’re on your period is a positive. 

Fluctuations in progesterone throughout your cycle can make you feel the need to slumber. High progesterone levels are linked to feeling tired, and they are at their highest during the luteal phase. This phase is commonly known as the time for experiencing PMS in the days leading to menstruation.

Another reason sleep makes sense during your cycle is because of those hormones. As you’ve read, hormones are affected by sleep. Because hormones fluctuate during your menstrual cycle, you want to protect the rejuvenation process those hormones enjoy while you are sleeping.

Even if you make a conscious effort to get more sleep during your period, unfortunately, it might not always be so easy. 

How Your Period Can Affect Sleep

So here’s the challenge. You know the benefits sleep can provide. You want to get an adequate amount, but your period can disrupt those very best intentions. 

It is common to feel changes in sleep patterns during the days leading up to the menstrual phase of your cycle. You’re also possibly dealing with cramps which can become an obstacle to getting comfortable and resting.

Your body temperature also rises due to the increase in progesterone. For some, it may go unnoticed, but it can contribute in some instances to an uncomfortable feeling when attempting to rest. 

There is also some evidence that menstruation affects melatonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone that rises in the evening due to your circadian rhythm. It helps your body realize that night is a time for rest and helps promote sleep.

Mental and emotional stress can affect sleep because mood and sleep are connected. Feeling depressed, irritable, or anxious, which are common PMS symptoms, can cause you to lose sleep at night. 

Improve Sleep 

A steady sleep routine is a habit we recommend as part of your positive period care routine! Here are our top tips for improving sleep during your cycle.

  1. Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol as much as possible in the days immediately before and during menstruation. The stimulating effects of both can interrupt sleep. Even though alcohol may eventually make you feel sleepy, alcohol can disrupt REM sleep leading to a less restful night. 
  2. Make meditation and relaxation techniques part of your bedtime routine. Centering yourself before bedtime or simply taking a warm shower is a good tactic. 
  3. Keep up your healthy eating habits and exercise routine. Nutrient-dense foods and exercise are on the list for proper period care, and they also have been proven to improve sleep quality.
  4. Create a comfortable, distraction-free space for sleep. Ensure your surroundings are soothing.
  5. Use period products that give you physical calm and mental peace of mind. Sleep soundly, knowing that you’re doing the best for your body and advancing your holistic wellness in every way possible.

Restful Wishes From Red Moon

We’re always sending the very best energy your way for a safe, calm, and restful period. We strive to provide support and products that will assist you in getting the rest and rejuvenation your body needs.

Be well-informed of the impact sleep can have on your health and your cycle. We encourage you to realize the power of sleep and use it to your advantage during your period and to optimize your overall health. 

Do you consider sleep a priority in your self-care routine? Will you commit to recognizing and prioritizing sleep as part of your holistic health goals? Join us in sharing the importance of sleep in your holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle and a calm period.

___________

Alison Ferrell is the co-founder of Red Moon and has a passion for helping others discover peace and comfort amidst reproductive health issues. Alison draws on her deep empathy for those who’ve suffered from Endometriosis and reproductive illnesses as inspiration for her business. You can connect with her on Linkedin.

 

Resources:

WebMD
Bustle
CDC
Healthline
Healio
Better Health
Healthy Sleep
Sleep Foundation
NCCIH

 

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