Menstruation is a normal part of a womanâ€™s life. But it can disrupt our sleep routine every month. A huge struggle is achieving comfort in bed as we roll anxiously and switch our positions to ease nagging period cramps. With this going for 5-6 days, one can hardly wake up in a sunny mood and have a well-rested body.
Exhaustive cramps, heavy bleeding, bloating and breast tenderness are common symptoms in the first few days which are terrible for a sound sleep. According to a survey, 30% of women in the US donâ€™t get a restful sleep every month during this time.
Thankfully, with more research, advice from experts and pain-relieving products, we can overcome the symptoms and improve our sleep quality more than ever.
What Happens to Your Body During Your Period?
There is a simple reason for these monthly visitors: Reproduction. During the entire period, your body prepares itself for a potential pregnancy at various stages of the cycle.
The average menstrual cycle completes in 28 days in a healthy young woman. Hormones are the key players that control the duration of the period and symptoms associated with it. In entirety, the 28-day cycle is primarily dictated by the fluctuating levels of hormones. They also mark the time of ovulation which usually happens to be on the 14th day.
The period starts when the uterus sheds its line in the form of menstruation blood. On the first day, the levels of estrogen and progesterone sink. This is why you may feel extremely restless and cranky. The second day leading up to ovulation on day 14, is the time when estrogen picks up its pace.
Due to the low levels of progesterone, the body temperature and fatigue increase which agitates your normal sleeping cycle.
Why are Menstrual Cramps Worse at Night?
During a period, your uterus is contracting hard to shed its lining with the help of a hormone-like substance called Prostaglandins. This process compresses the blood vessels and temporarily stops the supply of blood and oxygen to the uterus. As a result, it triggers surrounding tissues to activate the pain receptors, which get damaged due to lack of blood supply.
One of the reasons for stronger period cramps in the middle of the night is the sleeping position which can encourage contractions. Secondly, commonly experienced digestion issues and moving bowls can make the cramps worse.
Rising body temperature due to lack of progesterone may also be responsible for increasing severity. In addition to all this, night cramps are also associated with poor diet prior to bed and sleeping in an air-conditioned room.
Best Heating Pads To Relieve Cramps
Heating pads can provide great comfort in these tough times and have been used for centuries in different forms. Brian King of the University College London explains this phenomenon as below.
“The heat doesn’t just provide comfort and have a placebo effectâ€”it actually deactivates the pain at a molecular level in much the same way as pharmaceutical painkillers work.”
Miraculously when the heat of 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius) is applied to the area where you are feeling pain, it blocks off the pain receptors by activating the heat receptors deep down the skin. This also relaxes the contractions, making it easier for blood to flow without pain, making them excellent products to use to get better sleep while on your period.
Here are three heating pads for thermotherapy to make your period cramps go away fast.
1. MIGHTY BLISSâ„¢
This beautiful, turquoise-colored heating pad is a winner for easing your muscle soreness and pain in just a few seconds. It has a thick-soft layer to give you that cozy feel. The build quality of this heating pad is excellent and it effectively penetrates heat deep within your muscles and binds the pain receptors.
Mighty Bliss has soft micro plush fibers that keep you all comfy during cold nights. You can even wrap it around your sore muscles and sleep peacefully. The size of this heating pad is extra-large (12″x24″) which means you can use it on the back, thighs, shoulders or stomach during your periods.
It has multiple personalized heat settings including moist and dry options. A huge advantage is it being washable which means if you stain it by mistake, simply unplug the cord and machine-wash it. The product also has a lifetime replacement policy, which means you can replace it any time and get your money back – no questions asked.
2. Granbest Portable Electric Heating Pad
This ultra-thin, light-weight portable electric heating pad offers advanced heating therapy, thanks to its Granbest heating pad featuring the latest Graphene Heating Chip which releases infrared thermal energy to improve your blood circulation and relieve your muscles. It warms up in just 3 seconds and has 95% uniformity of heat across the surface.
The heat intensity can be customized as per your needs and carries an automatic temperature control system. This means the temperature adjusts itself to a lower setting after 30-minutes of operation, making it an ideal product to use at night in periods. This product has an adjustable velcro and elastic belt that you can buckle around your waist. The belt stretches up to 40 inches and can be used by people with 2.0 – 3.3 feet waist.
The best thing about this heating pad is that it is portable and can be charged on a laptop or a USB adapter, making it easy to use and convenient to take everywhere. This pad is highly recommended to prevent menstrual cramps or any other pains in the uterus, waist, abdomen and stomach.
3. UTK Jade Far Infrared Heating Pad
This FDA registered product is amazing as it features Carbon Fiber Heating Element. Itâ€™s infrared heating pad emits far-infrared rays that access the pain contributors inside your muscle, tissues and joints, and treat them instantly. It also heals inflammation caused by straining muscles.
Another unique thing about this Jade heating pad is that it contains 126 individually certificated natural jade stones that release negative ions and upon heating, they promote oxygenation in your mind and body. This is therapeutic for treating your period-related depression and fatigue.
The pad can be adjusted with temperatures between 103Â°F to 159Â°F, especially useful to reduce really bad cramps during period which require high heat. It also comes with a smart-digital controller and memory setting that can take you to the previous settings. You can fix it on your back with the Velcro strap, adjust the time duration of the session and sleep without having to worry about any painful back cramps.
Best Sleeping Positions for Menstrual Cramps Relief
Finding the best sleeping position to deal with menstrual cramps is something many women struggle with. As much as it is important to buy the right products for a good sleep, the sleeping position itself plays a crucial role. Other than agonizing cramps, you can also run into a leak if you are not using the right sanitary product. Both these problems can simply be countered by adopting sleeping positions that offer maximum comfort for period cramps.
Recommended by most of the experts, this is one of the best positions to sleep in while on your period. Sleeping in the fetal position takes the pressure off the abdominal muscles which allows them to ease, thereby minimizing cramp pains. Also, it can save you from possible leak outs since your legs are tightly tucked together.
Although this position can work very well with menstruation cramps and muscle soreness, it can also put your nervous system in a fight or flight mode which can be dangerous.
Sleeping on Your Back
This one is a harmless position to sleep in. Sleeping on your back allows you to massage your abdomen when cramps hurt. It is also suggested to use therapeutic oils like lavender and cinnamon as these are known to ease cramps.
Another useful tip is to keep your arms open to allow deep breathing and better relaxation for your body and mind. You can even use a flat heating pad to absorb the back pain while lying on it for half an hour. Donâ€™t use a very high pillow while you are on your periods as it can hurt your neck and back.
Sleeping on Your Side
Like sleeping on your back, this position poses no harm to the body. Experts suggest that sleeping on your side offers support to your body from a structural, neurological and muscular perspective and makes period cramps go away. Side sleeping also helps with digestion and smooth breathing.
When sleeping on your side, it is highly recommended that you use a full body support pillow that can keep your body tucked in, allowing your neck, hips and knee muscles to relax on the comfortable surface of the pillow.
Sleeping Like a Child
This one is close to the fetal position but the only difference is that your knees are tightly drawn to your belly as you have laid on your side. According to the experts, this position is also great to get rid of period cramps fast. But you must not fold yourself too tightly.
The Only Position to Avoid – Stomach Sleeping
Sleeping on your stomach is the only position to avoid during periods. It pushes the uterus and draws more blood out, hence increasing your cramps and blood leaks.
More Tips to Get Rid of Period Cramps Pain and Sleep Better
Other than sleeping positions and pain-relieving products, a healthy routine is conducive to prevent period cramps. Indeed, studies have shown their usefulness in decreasing pain, improving blood flow and enhancing mood.
Treating yourself with nutritious food will ease your cramps and also treat period-triggered anxiety and depression. A study conducted in Spain by university students suggests that vegetarian diets and sticking to fruits are correlated to fewer cramps and less pain during menstruation.
You can go for an Omega-3 fatty acid-based diet which includes salmon, tuna, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, and other fortified foods.
Foods that contain Iron such as oysters, beef and beef liver, fortified breakfast cereal, tofu, beans, and lentils will ease your blood flow and make you stronger to stand the cramps.
Donâ€™t go for oily snacks and fizzy drinks. It will spark digestive issues which you surely donâ€™t want at this time.
Donâ€™t go for heavy workouts as your body may be already under-stress. You can take a light walk or a jog or even keep moving around your house if you canâ€™t manage to go outside. This will help your body to heat up and make you tired, encouraging you to sleep fast.
Using soft cushions and pillows is particularly helpful for side and back sleepers. Put a cushion between your legs and behind your head, it will calm your breathing by relaxing muscles and stomach. You can replace your normal pillow with a full body support pillow for maximum support to make cramps hurt less.
Use a mattress according to your sleeping position. A medium firm mattress is good for your spine and a soft mattress is great if you are a side sleeper. Replace those mattresses that cause you cramps even without periods because these will only make your cramps worse.
Bed hygiene is also hard to maintain during this time of the month. Using disposable pad mats while sleeping can prevent bed sheets from staining. Also, bed sheet protection may keep you in peace when your blood flow is heavy.
Avoid Drinking Alcohol
You can consume alcohol in moderation but if you get a hangover, your cramps will feel terrible. Plus alcohol is known for dehydrating your body which leads to stomach problems. It is best to avoid it.
Replace your alcoholic beverages with soothing fruit and vegetable juices and nectar. Make yourself a fresh smoothie. Try to avoid preserved or canned juices from the supermarket.
During periods, you are likely to get dehydrated since your body is losing more fluids. According to Kendra Segura, MD, an ob-gyn in Southern California, drinking at least 8 glasses of water can control menstruation symptoms such as bloating, muscle cramps and fatigue.
Drinking lukewarm is better as it eases the flow of the period. Opting for water-based foods such as lettuce and watermelons can also fulfill your hydration requirement.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you die from period cramps?
You cannot die from period pain unless you have a deadly condition to make it worse such as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Endometriosis, ruptured ovarian cyst. The period pain can be intense but not life-threatening. Although some studies suggest it can sometimes be as bad as a heart attack.
How painful should period cramps be?
It varies from person to person. It can be a mild, dull ache in the abdomen that doesnâ€™t stay for more than three days. Then there are sharp and severe pains that follow throughout the cycle. If your period cramps don’t get treated by OTC medicines, the pain feels severe and lasts for more than 3 days, it means you may be having an underlying condition that needs prompt medical attention.
Why do I have cramps after my period ends?
Pain after periods isnâ€™t common but it can be due to a harmless condition called Uterine incapacity which triggers the uterus to contract. Another issue can be Endometriosis in which uterine tissues grow outside the uterus. This can lead to pain before and after the period for one or two weeks.
How many Del units of pain are period cramps?
Gynecologists measure it on a scale of 1 to 10 to understand the severity. There are no Del units for pain as it is subjective and can not be verified by scientific means.