30 Sep Troubled sleep? Study reveals a common culprit–that’s fixable
It’s normal to experience lousier sleep at certain points in your menstrual cycle–often premenstrually when plunging estrogen creates changes in the body and brain that make clocking good sleep more of a challenge. However, a recent study reveals one possible culprit behind lousy sleep premenstrually–and during other times in our cycle–that’s reversible.
Turns out, when you eat too little–for example, you’re extreme dieting or you simply skip meals because you were too busy to eat–your sleep gets a lot worse, according to researchers from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University. When volunteers in their study had their normal calorie intake cut by about half, their sleep was less restful and they had more nighttime awakenings. And this sleep issue occurred during both the first half and second half of their cycle.
This makes sense since during the first half of your cycle, your appetite is actually suppressed a bit due to rising estrogen. So, you may feel like you can cut back on portions or skip meals altogether because you have fewer hunger pangs and fatiguing side effects. You may not even realize you’ve been shorting yourself on as much food as you really have.
And, in the second half of your cycle, elevated progesterone can make you more sensitive to drops in blood sugar when you don’t eat enough. So, if you go to bed without enough food to keep your blood sugar steady–or you eat dinner much earlier than your bedtime–you could experience a drop in blood sugar in the middle of the night that keeps you from sleeping well.
Bottom line: If you notice your sleep isn’t as sound and refreshing as you want it to be at any point in your menstrual cycle–and you suspect it may be due to too little food–try adding in healthy extra calories to your diet, such as fresh vegetables, whole fruits or whatever foods are right for you.
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Learn how the hormones in your menstrual cycle impact you every day in my book, 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals About Your Moods, Health & Potential