If you find yourself feeling like you can’t accomplish anything on the first couple of days of your period, know that you’re not alone. In my most recent period, I felt like death and I could barely concentrate on my work because all I could think about was needing to sleep.
Apart from menstrual cramps, menstrual fatigue is another extremely common symptom that many females suffer from. So, why is it that we feel so tired during our periods and how do we stop it?
Causes of Menstrual Fatigue
There are many possible reasons behind why one would feel extreme fatigue during a period, but here are the 4 most common reasons behind your menstrual fatigue:
1. Lower Progesterone Levels
Progesterone has a calming effect on your moods, and it dips drastically when you are on your period. As a result, you may feel a lot more irritated, and have a lower tolerance for stress which leads to poor quality sleep at night. This fatigue will then be brought over to the next day, affecting your productivity levels and causing you to feel menstrual fatigue.
2. Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen and progesterone exist to balance each other, and when they are in imbalance, there are problems that follow. As mentioned previously, progesterone levels dip when you have your period, and for some, they might dip a lot more than estrogen does. This may lead to a few symptoms, including fatigue. Another symptom when you suffer from estrogen dominance is having cravings, which leads me to –
3. Sugar Crash
On top of estrogen dominance, lower serotonin (your body’s happy pill!) levels during our periods cause sugar cravings too. As such, it is common to get all sorts of cravings when on a period – as if we could eat our way out of all our period symptoms! However, these cravings cause us to feel tired when we are on our period – when we go on a sugar binge, we may get a sugar crash and hence suffer from extreme fatigue.
Menorrhagia or heavy menstrual bleeding is one of the most common causes of anemia, where you suffer from iron deficiency due to significant blood loss during your period. And as you might’ve guessed, one of the symptoms for anemia is none other than fatigue.
So, how do I stay awake?
1. Avoid caffeine and sugar
Although it might sound counter-intuitive as both sugar and caffeine are well-known “perk me ups”, they actually only provide you with a short-term boost, which will definitely be accompanied with a crash afterwards. As such, be sure to stick to the plain water.
2. Eat Iron-Rich Foods
As anemia is a possible cause of menstrual fatigue, be sure to eat iron-rich foods to prevent iron-deficiency. Some iron-rich foods that are readily available include eggs, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, meat, tofu, dark green leafed vegetables, and fish.
3. Give in, take a nap!
If the fatigue is too much to bear and you just absolutely can’t concentrate, take a power nap! According to research, a 10-20 mins power nap would greatly boost your energy level. Be sure not to exceed this recommended length or you would put yourself at risk of experiencing sleep inertia – being in a groggy state and feeling a lot worse than you did before you took the nap.
It is important to note that apart from the reasons mentioned above, there are many other possible causes as to why you might feel so tired during your period, with some being more serious than others. If this persists every time you’re on your period and it’s hindering your daily life severely, be sure to visit the doctor’s and nip the problem in the bud.