The Ultimate Guide to Sleeping on Your Period
More than any other time of the month, when you’re on your period, you need to sleep and take care of your body. Unfortunately, between period pains and feeling a but rubbish, it’s not always easy to get to sleep when you’re on.
Personally, one of the signs that I am due on is having a restless night a couple of days before my period arrives when my body temperature peaks. Once my period actually arrives, my sleep doesn't improve much, between cramps and feeling bloated. So for everyone out there who suffers with their sleep during their menstrual cycle, we’ve compiled the Ultimate Guide to Sleeping On Your Period:
- How to Sleep Better During Your Period
- What to Wear to Bed on Your Period
- How to Prevent Period Leaks While Sleeping
- Can You Wear a Tampon to Bed?
- Can You Wear a Period Cup to Bed?
- How to Get Rid of Period Pains in Bed
To sleep better during your period, you can:
1. Take Ibuprofen right before bed if you're suffering with cramps, with a glass of milk or light snack
2. Have a cup of herbal tea (we like the Pukka Night-time teabags)
3. Consider doubling up on your period protection if your period is heavy
4. Consider doubling up on your underwear if you're using pads
5. Wear something comfortable and breathable
We recommend that you wear fairly close fitting pyjamas to bed when on your period, plus close fitting underwear. If your periods are on the heavy side, or you wear period pads, you should also think about wearing two pairs of knickers to help hold your pad / pads in place.
For both pyjamas and pants or period pants look for natural materials like cotton as they're more breathable and will help cool you down instead of tossing and turning. We recommend our sporty cotton period pants, or feeling hip, high leg period pants.
High-waisted pants come into their own here to hold pads in place, essential for great sleep quality!
'Very impressed, I was a little unsure if I'd be protected enough with the heavy flow period pants as I have a very heavy flow, I tend to need to use two pads at night and bleed through tampons but these pants were excellent and lasted without a leak. I'll be buying a couple more pairs to see me through my period. The service was exceptional, I had to contact the company and they provided excellent customer service and the pants came very quickly after I ordered.' Helen, Trustpilot July 2022
To prevent period leaks while you sleep:
- Change your pad, tampon, cup or period pants right before bed
- Use night-time period pants or pads
- Double up on your period protection to prevent leaks
- Double up on your knickers if you're wearing pads to help keep them in place
Changing your period protection sounds obvious right? You'll be wearing your period protection for 8 hours which is longer than you would during the day when you would normally change your protection every 4 to 6 hours.
For safety reasons, if you really have to wear a tampon at bedtime, you'll definitely want a fresh tampon as they shouldn't be worn for more than 8 hours at a time. See 'Can you wear a tampon to bed'.
Again, you'll be sleeping for around 8 hours, so whatever period protection you use, you should consider a higher absorbency level than usual. If you use pads, look for overnight pads which tend to be thicker and longer / wider which will cover more of your vulva area while you sleep, whether you sleep on your front or your back.
Cheeky Wipes bamboo reusable pads are perfect for overnight as they're the most absorbent in the range. The night pads are 28cm long, providing great coverage and available in bamboo topping which is cool to wear, or a bamboo charcoal fleece which is great if you are squeamish or want to avoid staining.
If you are using period underwear which tends to be moisture wicking and leak proof anyway, try wearing a pair with extra absorbency for heavy flow.
'Amazing period pants, have not and will not ever go back to using tampons or pads. I have less pain and more comfort using period pants as well as the obvious positives for the environment! Never had a leak, more confident in sleeping the night than when I used pads, they wash and dry amazingly and I just wish I had had these years ago! I have recommended friends to use these for how brilliant they are!' Hannah, Trustpilot, June 2022
For tampon users and those wearing a menstrual cup, this means wearing period pants or a pad as backup.
If you wear pads, you can double them up to, overlapping them in the middle so that you have protection to the front and rear waistband of your knickers.
Cheeky Pants period pants tend to have absorbency to the front and wear waistband as standard. However if your periods are especially heavy, you can double up with a reusable sanitary pad which is brilliant for keeping you secure overnight.
Sounds nuts, but if you're still wearing pads overnight and haven't switched to period undies, then wearing two pairs of pants can really help. One brief style which you've inserted the pad(s) into. Plus one bigger pair over the top - think high-waisted Bridget Jones style, or boyshorts / boxer style pants.
We've got a great article about how to prevent leaks on your period, if you're looking for further reading.
No, it's not advisable to wear a tampon to bed (although Tampax report that you can). Natracare who make organic tampons and pads do not recommend sleeping with a tampon and that you should ideally switch to pads overnight in order to be safe to sleep.
That's because absorbent tampons should really be changed every 4 to 6 hours to avoid bacterial infections or Toxic Shock Syndrome. As most people sleep for around 8 hours, this is longer than is really safe.
Yes, you can wear a period cup to bed. Period cups are safe to wear for up to 12 hours, so they're safer than tampons. It's worth noting that some people find that they need a source of back up protection in case of leaks. Period pants are perfect for this.
To get rid of period pains in bed, you can:
- Take ibuprofen before bed
- Keep your room cool
- Try using heat pads or a hot water bottle
- Change your sleeping position
- Have a cup of herbal tea
Studies have shown than taking Ibuprofen is better for managing menstrual cramps than paracetamol because it reduces pain and helps to alleviate swelling.
Progesterone in the second half of our menstrual cycle tends to make us run warmer, so keeping the termperature down in the bedroom (between 16c and 19c) is best for a good night's sleep.
If your cramps are particularly bad, a period heat pad or hot water bottle directly on your stomach is a great way to reduce pain. Check out wearable heat pads which will hold the warm pad in place while you sleep.
If possible, laying on your side, in foetal position is the best sleeping position to reduce period pain in bed. Tuck a cushion between your knees to keep your hips aligned for the best night's sleep!
Having a cup of herbal tea is a great way to help with period cramps. There's evidence to say that green tea which is full of antioxidant compounds and has some anti-inflammatory effects may help. It also contains the compound L-theanine, which may help you feel more calm and relaxed.
One study including 1,183 women also noted that drinking green tea was associated with decreased menstrual pain compared with drinking other types of tea.
''I bit the bullet a year or so ago and decided to try reusable period wear! So, I bought some pads and a couple of pairs of high waisted pants from you...
I got a couple of different styles and have to say the shorts are an absolute game changer! I slept in them last night and WOW! so comfortable, no rolling up my legs, no digging in (I have a fairly "sturdy" thigh!), no leaks just fantastic! I am usually a size 16-18 but bought an 18-20 for comfort. I had really bad cramps when I went to bed but the design of the pants actually felt like it was supporting my belly and with a hot water bottle, the pain soon went and I slept like a log.' Louise, Trustpilot
We hope you've enjoyed this article, however if you'd like further reading you may also enjoy these:
About the author: Helen Rankin is a Mum of 4 who needs her sleep! She founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up. She went on to develop their range of 'Simple Reusables' to include period pants, reusable sanitary pads and reusable makeup removing pads. Her customer services team pride themselves on providing relatable friendly advice and just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods all day long! The Company was recognised for their hard work in developing environmentally friendly products with the Queens Award in Enterprise for Sustainable Development in 2021.