It can be hard to figure out how to sleep on your period. Our menstrual cycles affect more than just our mood, and periods can hinder different bodily functions - from your bowel movements to your sleep. But you can do a few things to relieve pain, self soothe, or even trick your body into sleeping easier, and we’ll even talk about what to wear whilst sleeping – all relatively easy fixes.
How does your period affect your sleep?
There are a multitude of reasons why your period, or menstrual cycle as a whole, affects your sleep. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and insomnia have been linked through multiple studies, and often your hormones can affect your REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which means that you’re less likely to get restful sleep. On top of this, there are more studies that show people with vaginas are often more likely to have insomnia.
Experiencing pain is an obvious reason for disturbed sleep during your period. However, you can blame this on your hormones, as they change before, during and after menstruation. These changes can cause your body temperature to rise, and decrease your melatonin production. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your circadian rhythms; basically, it tells you when to sleep and when to wake up. It can also cause anxiety and depression, which can also correlate with insomnia or sleeping issues. And anxiety about leaking can also be a contributor. But hope is not lost!
What is the best position to sleep on your period?
Every person is different, so you might need to try a couple of positions to find the best solution for you. However, most agree that sleeping in the fetal position is the best position during your period. Bringing your knees up helps to relax your abdominal muscles, taking pressure off your abdomen and relieving period cramps. Sometimes though, if you’re feeling bloated, it can be uncomfortable to have your knees close to your chest.
If lying on your side is not comfortable you can lie on your back. When you lie flat on your back try placing a pillow under your knees, this allows the lower back to maintain its natural curve and reduces stress on your spine. It also helps relieve pressure on the uterus.
If you are a stomach sleeper, try sleeping in a child's pose. This position is known to relieve stress and naturally calm the mind and body. It also relieves pain in the lower back, hips and thighs, and can be a comfortable position to sleep in.
What position should I sleep in to avoid leaks?
The fetal position, or any position where your legs are pressed together, can help minimize leaks. But unfortunately, there is no position that 100% guarantees no leakage. You can, however, take extra steps to reduce anxiety about leaks.
How to prevent leaks while sleeping?
There are a few things to try to help reduce leaks at night during your period. From what you wear to how you get out of bed.
You can combine multiple period products to ensure you’re protected at night. Whether you pair a menstrual cup with period underwear, a tampon and a pad, or even two pads, you can stop leaks before they happen. If you do use pads, make sure to use the overnight size, or ones with wings so they won’t slide around when you move.
Time your changes and your period
You can track your period to have an idea about when it’s supposed to arrive. This will help prevent any surprise leaks. When you’re on your period, always change right before bed. Make sure your last step in your nightly routine is changing your period product, so it will last all night.
Set an alarm
Depending on what period product you use, you might have to set an alarm to get out of bed. Tampons should only be worn for a maximum of 8 hours, but if you like to sleep longer, a menstrual cup can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time.
Get up slowly
Once you wake up, try moving a little slower out of bed. At night blood can collect whilst you are sleeping so, by getting up slowly, all the blood shouldn’t rush out at once.
If you can’t prevent leakage then there is no shame in using a bed/mattress cover with an old sheet over the top. You could also use a towel to lay on. Periods are normal and although no one likes leaks they are nothing to be ashamed about.
Why are leaks more common at night?
They’re more common because you’re moving around in your sleep, which can cause bunching on things like pads, or dislodge internal period products.
Why is your period heavier at night?
It’s actually not! Because you’re in a different position, it can cause the blood to collect in different ways. This might make it appear like you’re bleeding more, but it’s highly unlikely you’re bleeding more just at night. Also, it can sometimes feel like we bleed more at night because blood can collect in the vaginal canal, without gravity pulling it down, causing it to gush out in the morning.
How to clean up leaks
There are many ways to clean up leaks from clothes, bed sheets, or furniture. Different materials require different approaches, so always look at the manufacturer’s instructions beforehand.
If you have a fresh blood stain, you can use cold water to remove it – on any fabric. Do not rub or press the stain, simply run the stain under the tap, add a little bit of dish or hand soap to the stain, then send it through the washing machine on a cold cycle. It should come right out with little or no issue. Make sure the stain is gone before moving it to the dryer, as it might need one more cycle; this will depend on how long the stain had been there.
If your stain happens to be on a white fabric, you can soak the fabric in water for at least 30 minutes and then add a little bit of hydrogen peroxide or lemon juice. Leave it soaking for another 30 minutes, then send it through the washing machine on a cold cycle. You can also use 2 parts baking soda to 1 part water - directly on the stain. Leave it to dry, then remove the excess and put it through the washing machine on a cold cycle. As a last resort, you can use diluted bleach as a stain remover for dried blood on whites.
Coloured fabrics can be saved by soaking them in cold water for 20 minutes, then using a solution of 1 part salt to 1 part water directly on the stain. Pat the stain gently and then put it through the washing machine on a cold wash.
Older blood stains tend to be more stubborn. Make sure to soak the fabric overnight in cold water, then take some hydrogen peroxide and pat it onto the stain. Let it sit for 10 minutes and dab the stain again with a cold, wet cloth. Then it is finally ready to be sent through the washing machine on a cold cycle. Then you can air dry your fabrics in the sun. If this doesn’t fully remove the stain, you can always repeat the cycle.