New research indicates that women experience sleep pattern disruptions and heightened anger in the days leading up to their period.

Summary:

New research published in the Journal of Sleep Research reveals that menstrual cycles significantly impact women’s sleep and emotions, with notable disruptions in sleep patterns and increased anger observed in the peri-menstrual phase. Analyzing data from 51 women, the study highlights the crucial role of hormonal fluctuations in affecting well-being. Authors suggest that these insights could pave the way for more effective sleep and emotional health interventions tailored for women.

Key Points:

  • The study found that women face sleep disruptions and spend more time awake at night during the peri-menstrual phase, with a lower overall sleep efficiency.
  • It also revealed that, during this phase, women report increased feelings of anger and a decrease in positive emotions such as calmness, happiness, and enthusiasm.
  • The authors emphasize that understanding the link between menstrual cycles, emotions, and sleep can lead to better-targeted treatments and interventions for improving sleep quality and emotional resilience in women.

Women experience disruptions in their sleep patterns and report heightened feelings of anger in the days leading up to their period, according to new research. 

The study, published in the Journal of Sleep Research, sheds new light on the intricate relationship between women’s menstrual cycles, emotions, and sleep patterns.  

“Our research provides valuable insights into the complex interplay between menstrual cycles, emotions, and sleep and the impact of hormonal fluctuations on women’s well-being,” says co-author Jo Bower, PhD, of the University of East Anglia’s School of Psychology, in a release. “By understanding how these factors interact, we can better address the unique needs of women in terms of sleep health and emotional well-being.” 

The study analyzed data from 51 healthy women aged between 18 and 35 who had regular periods and were not taking hormonal contraception.  

Utilizing ecological momentary assessment methodology, reproductive-aged women completed daily self-reports on their sleep and emotion measures and wore actiwatches (a sleep/wake tracking watch) to track sleep across two menstrual months. 

The researchers discovered compelling associations between menstrual phases, emotional states, and sleep quality. 

Key findings from the study include: 

  • Women experience disruptions in their sleep patterns in the days leading up to and during their period (peri-menstrual phase), spending more time awake at night, with a lower proportion of time spent in bed that is asleep (lower sleep efficiency). 
  • During the peri-menstrual phase, women report heightened feelings of anger compared to other phases of their menstrual cycle. 
  • Sleep disturbances during the peri-menstrual phase correlate with reduced positive emotions such as calmness, happiness, and enthusiasm. 

This contributes to a growing body of evidence suggesting that menstrual cycles may play a significant role in women’s vulnerability to insomnia and mental health issues.  

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“The findings underscore the importance of considering hormonal fluctuations when addressing sleep disorders and emotional distress in women,” says Bower in a release. “The implications of this research reach further than just the controlled setting, providing potential pathways for interventions and treatments aimed at enhancing sleep quality and emotional resilience in women.” 

Although the study had unique strengths, such as the use of both objective and subjective prospective data across two menstrual cycles, the researchers said the findings must be interpreted within the context of several limitations.  

For example, the data was collected between May 2020 and January 2021, and precisely how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted outcomes cannot be fully known.  

Although the researchers did not find strong effects of pandemic stress on outcome variables, they cannot discount the fact that the pandemic likely impacted participants’ emotional experiences and sleep-wake behaviors.    

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