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The One PMS Symptom That May Be Exacerbating The Rest Of Them

Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager
By Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Image by Michela Ravasio / Stocksy
May 9, 2021

What if we told you that taking care of just one PMS symptom could potentially ease all of the rest? It may sound too good to be true, but as OB/GYN Anna Cabeca, D.O., tells us: There's one oft-ignored side effect of periods that, when addressed, can "really help improve PMS." 

So, what is this all-powerful PMS symptom that seems to dictate the way we feel throughout the rest of our period? Spoiler: It's sleep.

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How poor sleep affects PMS.  

During the phase that follows ovulation and precedes the period (called the luteal phase), many women have reported having sleep troubles, from insomnia to frequently waking to nightmares. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "This is especially common in women who have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more severe type of premenstrual syndrome." 

While sleep quality may improve at the onset of the period, that's when other more common period symptoms may strike, such as bloat, weight gain, and brain fog—all of which might just be exacerbated by that lack of sleep, Cabeca explains. 

Think about it: Poor sleep interferes with gut health, which could lead to the ever-dreaded gas, bloating, and diarrhea that all too often coincides with your period. And if your period makes you feel foggy or forgetful, it could be the hormones, but it might also be due, in part, to missing out on sleep. 

How to improve your sleep quality. 

While improving your sleep might not get rid of PMS altogether (let's face it, your hormones are fluctuating, and everyone's response will differ), it still may lessen the blow. Here are a few ways Cabeca recommends getting better sleep leading up to your period: 

  1. Use essential oils: Bergamot and clary sage are two of Cabeca's favorite EOs for sleep. If you're looking for a relaxing nighttime blend, this orange and lavender one ought to do the trick. 
  2. Take an Epsom salt bath in the evening: According to Will Cole, D.C., IFMCP, 20 to 30 minutes is the sweet spot for soaking up all the benefits.
  3. Support your magnesium levels: Whether it's with a supplement or in the form of a magnesium-rich bedtime snack, this mineral has been shown to support sleep.
  4. Drink maca: This Latin American superfood is a stress-reducing adaptogen, which may help calm you down and ease you into sleep. 
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Abby Moore
Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager

Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.