The moment I begin to menstruate each month, I have to come to terms with the fact that for the next five or six days, I'm not going to be getting much sleep at night as I'd like to. I'm kept up late by nagging cramps — and I know I'm not the only one. Figuring out how to fall asleep with period cramps can sometimes feel like a total shot in the dark. If you're someone who finds themselves tossing and turning as soon as you start your monthly cycle, there are plenty of expert-recommended tricks you can try to help things go a little more smoothly.
For starters, something as small as adjusting how you're laying in bed could potentially make a major difference. "Sleeping in the fetal position takes pressure off the abdominal muscles," explained Lisa Lindley, M.D., board-certified gynecologist with Eisenhower Women's Health, to Glamour. As the muscles surrounding your abdomen start to relax, you will probably feel less tension in your uterus so your body can truly begin winding down for the night.
In addition, pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, which calms your nervous system and relaxes your muscles, easing you into sleep, Haley Hughes MS, RD, CDE tells Elite Daily in an email. "It also regulates melatonin," she explains, which is super useful for anyone who's having trouble falling asleep.
Here's the thing, though: These small seeds aren't just good to usher you to sleep — they're also great to help battle period cramps, because they're a good source of zinc. A study published in the Oman Medical Journal discovered that adding zinc to your diet reduces menstrual pain. Snack on roasted and salted pumpkin seeds before you relax into bed, and chances are, you'll help to reduce your pain and bring on sleep in just about no time.
For another great bedtime snack that'll help you snooze pain-free, make yourself a warm mug of spiced milk. Dr. Benjamin Smarr, a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley and Reverie Sleep Advisory Board member explains that the fat in milk can work wonders when it comes to falling asleep. For even more help (and taste), he suggests adding a bit of honey to the mixture.
According to Amanda Montalvo, registered dietitian and functional nutrition practitioner at Kettlebell Kitchen, ginger is can be a powerful way to reduce pain such as menstrual cramps. But don't stop with just one flavorful spice. Montalvo tells Elite Daily, "Allspice has many similar properties to ginger and is helpful for indigestion, pain, heavy menstrual periods."
When you're on your period and you're trying to sleep, temperature can make a big difference. "It’s more important than ever then to keep your bedroom at 60 to 67 degrees," according to the National Sleep Foundation. "To 'trick' your body into feeling sleepy, take a warm bath or shower prior to bed," the organization recommends. "The contrast between the warm bath and your cooler bedroom environment will make your body temperature drop and help with sleep onset."
Rose MacDowell, chief research officer at sleep company Sleepopolis, says that some of your favorite stress-relief tactics can do double duty if you're having trouble sleeping while on your period. "Try relaxation exercises, guided imagery, or calming breathing before bed," she suggests in an email to Elite Daily. "Relaxed muscles can help relieve cramps and encourage deeper sleep."