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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Farnill

Women Struggling with Insomnia and Painful Periods – Tips to Help with Recovery

I want to share some information that can help with sleep, recovery and painful periods.

This article is part 2 of the information from Dr Stacy Sims book called Roar. Check out the first article (click here) which is all about how to fuel your female body.

At different times in life quality sleep can be a bit harder for women to get for a whole range of reasons. This will have a significant impact on how we feel day to day including our energy levels, our mood and emotions to our concentration and brain function. All of these areas are vital from work to home life and more to the point, they are vital for us ENJOYING this life, which for me is a requirement not an option. This means if insomnia or sleep issues are present in your life, we want to jump on it straight away so life can get back to being a little more balanced and even.

And this is similar to painful periods, they can really take the enjoyment out of life pretty darn quickly. Painful periods also mean you may experience a lot of down time, away from work, away from the gym or feeling the need to force yourself to do things even though you feel your body absolutely hating it. And the thing with insomnia and painful periods is they both affect our ability to recover and bounce back day to day.

The first tip from Dr Stacy Sims is a cold glass of Tart/Sour cherry juice before bed to help with sleep and recovery. This is something Dr Sims talks about all through the book and it is pretty evident why she harps on about it all the time. A glass of cold tart cherry juice before bed helps with getting quality sleep which in turn helps you recover. It helps with falling asleep as it is naturally high in melatonin, the chemical that tells our bodies it is time to sleep.

Plus it is high in anti inflammatories which assists in even more recovery. And if you haven’t experienced the detrimental pain-sleep cycle, where you have pain leaning to not being able to sleep and then your pain feels so much worse leading to more nights without sleep, then let me tell you high levels of natural anti inflammatories while you sleep are a godsend.

If you want to really amp up the sleepiness factor add in valerian root in the form of tea or capsules. Another natural form of sleeping aid, it works by allowing you to fall asleep faster. 400mg is the desired level to assist with sleep. Consider combining it with the tart cherry juice to allow the best sleep and recovery by falling asleep quickly and then staying asleep for some quality sleep hours.

Remember like with pharmaceuticals, you might experience an initial benefit but you have to give your body a bit of time to work with these products to their full extent. There isn’t much point trying it for a week and then ruling it to be ineffective, especially if you have had long term insomnia, it may take time for your body to fully react to the chemicals in these natural products.

Now the other factor with sleep is that when we sleep some body functions are ramping up their action. One of those organs is the liver. Our friendly liver removes toxins from the body. This includes old hormones that are passed their use by date. However (you expected this to come didn’t you) if you don’t sleep well and can’t recover properly then your liver can’t fully function and you get a whole heap of stale, old, nasty hormones floating around your body. This is where insomnia, or just poor sleep quality, and painful periods meet in a hideous mix of negative side effects.

So the slide over to when painful periods impact sleep because quite simply you might struggle to sleep when your uterus is trying to rip itself a part and leave your body (how fun is it to link things together). If you get really bad cramping during your period then it is best to pre plan for this and act in the week leading up to the start of your cycle. It’s the chemical called prostaglandins that make your uterus contract to expel its lining and it’s these prostaglandins that we want to stop due to their nasty side effect, cramps that are so bad they inhibit your life.

This means taking action 5-7 days before your period to prevent the levels of prostaglandins from rising too far. Dr Sims suggests you pre plan by taking 250mg magnesium, 45mg zinc, 1g omega-3 fatty acid (flaxseed and fish oil) and an 80mg aspirin for 5-7 days before your period. They all work on reducing inflammation and stopping the prostaglandins from taking over. This in turn means your sleep and recovery aren’t affected and life can continue with a little more normalcy around your cycle.

Now the final hurrah…even if you don’t have insomnia but you do have bad period cramps, you might want to consider jumping on some tart cherry juice every night to allow sleep and recovery for the longer term effects - having a nicer relationship with your uterus (yes I mean there is an option where you do not want to rip it out while it feels like it is trying to maim you from the inside out).

As always, contact me if you would like any more information or for additional help with insomnia or period pain,

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