insomniaWow, this cycle I have just been experiencing the worst premenstrual insomnia. Ironically, it’s while I’ve been busy writing an article about the latest pill-free insomnia-busting tips for a national women’s magazine. (Strangely, I also get more irritable while writing happiness-boosting articles, eat more junk food while writing healthy-eating articles and spend more money while writing budget-making articles. I’m sensing a weird pattern here….)

Anyway, it’s not completely unexpected for me to have trouble sleeping on my pre-period days. During our premenstrual week, plunging estrogen does all it can to zap good sleep by dragging down the brain’s level of sleep-promoting serotonin and triggering headaches, pain and anxiety. (And, this lack of good sleep actually accounts for much of our premenstrual crankiness and discomfort, research shows.)

Since I write about natural sleep-boosters quite frequently in magazine articles–and have had plenty of opportunities lately to try out these sleep-enhancing techniques myself–I decided to round up 5 of my favorite study-proven, pill-free insomnia-busting tips that can help you get better zzz’s on your pre-period days, too:

1. Overcome persistent insomnia with a wristband: In two studies (this one and this one), insomniacs who had a certain acupressure point stimulated on their inner wrists (the “Shen Men” point) before bedtime or while they lay in bed fell asleep faster, experienced deeper sleep, had fewer nighttime awakenings and slept longer overall. It’s believed that this acupressure point triggers deeper relaxation, giving you better zzz’s. You can stimulate these acupressure points yourself wearing a motion sickness acupressure wristband–like the Sea-Band, which was used in one of the studies–as you sleep since it stimulates the same point on the wrist needed for a higher-quality snooze. You can find a motion sickness acupressure band at drugstores and Amazon for about $7.

2. Lull yourself to sleep with slow-tempo tunes: Listening to an hour of relaxing, slow-tempo music–such as songs by Jason Mraz or Ben Harper–before bedtime can help you nod off significantly faster and enjoy higher-quality sleep by reducing physical tension, according to a recent review of 10 studies in the International Journal of Nursing Studies.

3. Wake up well-rested by listening to a soothing voice: Listening to a soothing, hypnotic voice encouraging you to get a good night’s sleep triggers a 66% decrease in “micro-arousals”–the mini-wakeups that happen without you knowing it, preventing truly sound sleep. What’s more, it results in 80% more “slow-wave sleep”–the deep sleep that makes you feel fully refreshed in the morning, according to a recent study in the journal SLEEP. How it works: Our sleep patterns are sensitive to what happens to us subconsciously, says lead study author Björn Rasch, Ph.D. As a result, hypnotic suggestions have the potential to influence the subconscious mind in a way that results in longer, deeper sleep. To listen to sleep hypnosis audio for free, visit liberationinmind.com/insomnia-relief.

4. Trick yourself to sleep by trying to staying awake: When you’re struggling to fall asleep, instead of focusing on trying to nod off, experiment with trying to stay awake as long as possible while lying in bed. Insomniacs who used this easy technique–called “paradoxical intention”–felt like they fell asleep significantly faster, according to a 2003 study from the University of Glasgow. Why it works? By switching your focus to trying to staying awake, you nix “sleep anxiety” caused by trying to fall asleep, which keeps you alert and awake.

5. Drift off sooner–and dodge bad dreams–by dabbing on jasmine: When inhaled, fragrant odor molecules in jasmine trigger relaxation just like an anti-anxiety drug by calming overstimulated areas of the brain, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. Bonus: Breathing in a pleasant fragrance as you sleep reduces the likelihood of scary or anxious dreams, according to a 2009 study in the Journal of Sleep Research.

Hope these tips helps you get more deep, restorative slumber on your premenstrual nights!

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