My menstrual cramps often wake me up in the early hours of the morning when I am trying to sleep. Apparently REM sleep is associated with increased uterine activity – menstrual cramps may be stronger and more painful during REM sleep. I couldn’t find any research into whether this was true – however I did find an interesting study into sleep & menstrual pain. The study found that women who experienced menstrual pain had hormonal/bodily differences throughout their menstrual cycle, not just during menstruation (when compared with women who did not experience menstrual pain).
WOMEN WITH MENSTRUAL PAIN (DYSMENORRHEA) EXPERIENCE:
1. A more disturbed sleep and a poorer sleep quality when they were suffering from uterine pain when compared with (a) asymptomatic women (women who experienced no menstrual pain) and, (b) other times during their own menstrual cycle.
2. Significantly less REM sleep when experiencing pain than they did when they were free of pain. Researchers noted that uterine activity increases during REM sleep and uterine contractility is significantly higher during the night in women with dysmenorrhea than in asymptomatic women, so uterine cramps might be most painful and disturbing during REM sleep, hence reducing the total amount of REM sleep compared with when the women were free of pain. However menstrual pain did not decrease slow wave sleep (SWS).
Throughout the rest of their menstrual cycle:
1. A higher nocturnal body temperature compared with asymptomatic women.
2. A shorter REM sleep compared with asymptomatic women.
3. Higher estrogen levels (but normal progesterone levels) compared with asymptomatic women. Elevated estrogen levels throughout the menstrual cycle may stimulate the excessive production of certain uterine Prostaglandins.
“High nocturnal body temperatures and disturbed sleep in women with primary dysmenorrhea” by , , , ,