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Are Period Hangovers a Thing?

Ever wondered why the days leading up to your period feel a little like you’ve been partying a bit too hard? Yes, sadly, period hangovers are a thing- and you might be quite familiar with them. WUKA experts discuss: what is a period hangover, why do we get them and how can we get better sleep on our period?

What is a period hangover?

Much like a regular, alcohol-induced hangover, a period hangover can leave you feeling rotten. We’re talking thumping headaches, fatigue, body aches and more. This collection of rather annoying symptoms usually occur in the few days before your period start, AKA the luteal phase. 

During this phase, your hormones are fluctuating more wildly than at any other time during your cycle. This is when PMS symptoms are their strongest, and when many of us report feeling hungover, only without having had the fun of a good night out. 

But why does this happen, and is there anything we can do about it? Scientists seem to think it all comes down to sleep- or lack of. 

How do periods affect sleep?

There are many studies which document the impact that menstruation has on sleep quantity and quality. 

This 2018 study found that both subjective and objective sleep changes (actual changes to sleep vs perceived changes) occur during the menstrual cycle, while this 2023 study concluded that the affects of the menstrual cycle on sleep are so profound that they have a “multifaceted impact on women's well-being” overall. 

Anecdotally, it’s likely that you’ve experienced issues with sleep during your period too. And there’s probably more than one reason for it too. 

What causes sleep disruption during your period?

Lots of people report ‘period insomnia’ in the days leading up to their period, but during menstruation, sleep can be disrupted for other reasons too. 

Fear of leaks

One of the biggest causes of interrupted sleep- the fear of leaking is real. Is your pad secure enough to relax? Do you need to set an alarm to change it? Will you wake up in with stains on the sheets again?

Having adequate period products that are capable of absorbing your flow safely is essential any time of the day, and especially at bedtime if fear of leaks is keeping you awake. 

Try our Super Heavy Stretch™ period pants for a comfy night’s sleep. They’re multi-size so you’re guaranteed a perfect fit even if you’re bloated, and they’re made with a super absorbent gusset with four layers, designed to hold up to 60ml blood. 

Period pain

Bloating, headache, stomach cramps, sore boobs… sound familiar? Around 80% of us experience period pain, and for lots of us this can be another reason why we struggle to sleep and feel terrible for it the day after. 

For most, period pain tends to be at its worst when your period is heavy- usually the first 1-3 days of bleeding. After this, pains settle down and- hopefully- sleep will too. But for some, period pain can last all cycle long and can be excruciating. Some condition such as Endometriosis, Adenomyosis and PCOS can cause very painful and heavy periods, and there’s no doubt this can keep you awake. 

Heat can be really effective for pain management, and taking a bath before bed might help not only to ease pain but to get you ready for sleep too. You can also try a water bottle- our wearable hot water bottle can be tied around the waist to keep it in place, and positioned at the back if backache is keeping you up at night.

Hormonal changes

It might not surprise you to learn that hormonal changes during your cycle can massively affect your sleep. And if you suffer with PMS or PMDD your symptoms are likely to be more intense too.

This 2013 study found that “Reproductive hormones not only regulate reproductive function during the menstrual cycle, but also influence sleep and circadian rhythms.” and “Women with PMS/PMDD typically report sleep-related complaints such as insomnia, frequent awakenings, non-restorative sleep, unpleasant dreams or nightmares, and poor sleep quality associated with their symptoms”. 

This disruption in sleep inevitably leads to negative symptoms during the daytime too, such as sleepiness, irritability, fatigue, feeling unable to concentrate and general feelings of being unwell- ie, feeling hungover. 

If you suffer with PCOS, you’ll probably find that your sleep habits are even worse thanks to more intense hormonal fluctuations.  

How to sleep better on your period

Fear of leaks, period pain and fluctuating hormones are really only part of the story. Research haas found that women are 40% more likely to develop insomnia and other sleep disturbances than men. Factors such as pregnancy and perimenopause can be blamed for this, but there are many other reasons why we might not be getting the best sleep we can. 

Here are a few ways that you can improve your sleep and tackle those period hangovers.

Check bedroom temperature

There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning in a boiling hot bed, especially when you’re on your period or having menopause hot flushes! 

To get a good night’s sleep, the body’s temperature needs to drop a little, but as luck would have it, our body temperature actually rises during our period- so staying cool enough to sleep well becomes even more of a challenge. 

Do what you can to keep the temperature down- wear cool, breathable clothes and keep a window open if you can so fresh air can circulate. On your period, try our Cotton Stretch™ period pants- they’re breathable, kind to skin and moisture-wicking, alongside being super absorbent and ultra comfy too. 


Exercise releases endorphins which act as your body’s natural pain relief system and boosts mood too- so while it might not seem like a great idea when you’re on your period, even gentle movement during the day can have a positive impact on your sleep. 

Try yoga or swimming- our period leggings are great to help you find your flow and relax the mind, and our period-proof swimwear will gently support you in the water, keeping you protected from leaks while you swim.

Balanced diet

You know what foods make you feel good, so making sure they’re on the menu during your period is always a good idea. Try to avoid processed foods and alcohol too. 

Sleep routine

There are loads of apps out there that can help you build a good sleep routine, whatever that looks like for you. So whether you set an alarm for 10 minutes of meditation, you switch to candle light an hour before bed, or you read a chapter of a book before you retire, build the best sleep routine you can and stick to it. 

The bottom line on period hangovers 

They’re not fun, but period hangovers can affect us all during our period. Thanks to a combination of nighttime disturbances due to pain, fear of leaking and hormonal fluctuations, lack of sleep is a major reason why we night feel so terrible during the luteal phase and during the first few days of our period.

Be kind to yourself. Hormonal fluctuations are normal, and cycles can vary from person to person. It’s ok to take a duvet day when you need to. There’s always time to Wake Up and Kick Ass tomorrow! 

Make sure you’re using adequate period protection during your period, so you can get the best sleep possible. Period pants are a great option, particularly our Stretch™ collection- they’re multi-size so gently stretch to accommodate bloating, they’re moisture-wicking and they’re super absorbent. So you can say goodbye to fears of leaks, and goodbye to un-comfy waistbands digging in when you’re in pain too.

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