After ovulation, your progesterone rises. Lee calls this “the soporific hormone” — in other words, one that can make you drowsy. Then, just a few days before the start of your next period, estrogen and progesterone levels drop. And this is when many women have trouble sleeping. “The thinking is women who have a more abrupt withdrawal of progesterone — or maybe had a higher amount and it fell faster — have insomnia,” Lee says.
And how does Wacaser cope? “Now I know what it is and when so I can plan for it. I don’t plan any early morning meetings or calls [just before my period] because I know more than likely I’m not going to get any sleep.”
Getting More Sleep — Despite PMS
To combat menstrual-related sleep problems, Lee, who has been studying women and sleep patterns for more than a decade, recommends:
Exercise more. “Exercise helps to promote deep-sleep stages,” says Lee, the kind of restorative sleep where growth hormone, necessary for cell repair and regeneration, is secreted.
Avoid alcohol. Progesterone is highest around ovulation and during the luteal phase, which can exacerbate the effects of alcohol (or any other central-nervous system depressant). Though having a glass of wine in the evening may induce sleepiness, drinking alcohol at night can cause wakefulness and fragmented sleep.
Keep a sleep diary. Record the days of the month you have trouble falling or staying asleep, as well as when you wake early or have daytime sleepiness and fatigue.