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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sleeping on the Rag

My period started yesterday and I'm really sleepy today as a result.

There are a lot of ways that menstruation can affect my energy and ability to sleep well. For one thing, I'm a horribly active dreamer in general, but it's even worse right before my period so I find myself pretty exhausted by that.

Then when my period actually starts and I'm flowing, it can be really hard for me to sleep soundly. I'm sure it's that way for a lot of women; you train yourself from childhood to wake yourself up if you have to pee. You train yourself that feeling any wetness or weirdness between your legs is a sign you're making a mess of your bed. As a result, it's really hard to stay asleep and unbothered unless I wear a tampon to bed (which I don't do often as I like to wear tampons during the day, and pads at night to give my vagina a break from the tampons). Even in sleep you can feel the unusual sensations of menstruation, the bulk of the pad, the gloppy wetness exiting you. I wake up over and over again just from that, and am also on the alert to change position if my pad is not covering my panties enough (example: if I'm laying on my back and I can feel blood dripping down my asscrack so far that it gets practically to my lower back where no pad will catch it and it will wind up on the sheets and mattress. Even if I have a towel under me, there's a feeling of vigilance that agitates and disturbs sleep; is the towel wrinkled up over to the side? Women are trained not to make messes so it's pretty natural to spend the night worrying about the mess your menstrual flow might be making and doing everything possible to avoid it. Add strange dreams to the mix, and you're still very tired in the morning.

Add cramps to the mess factor and you have a recipe for fatigue. Waking up in the middle of the night to pain, be it mild or severe, really sucks. Last night I woke up to cramps, the room was dark . . . I tried to stumble into the bathroom without waking up Tucker to refill my hot water bottle with extra hotness to soothe my abdomen. I tried to find my way back to bed and to find my pills in the dark. That shit is hard. I'm fortunate that I don't have a regular job, and it's okay for me to sleep in later or take naps when I've lost sleep to cramps. I'm also happy to be on the pill so my cramps are not severe the way they used to be.

Cramps have another tiring effect besides the-pain-that-keeps-you-awake: most of us take some kind of pain reliever to deal with them. I take the anti-inflammatory Naproxen Sodium, for example, and even one makes me feel (not unpleasantly) heavy and somewhat lethargic. On the one hand, it helps me enjoy a thicker sleep. On the other hand it leaves me more tired-feeling than usual in the morning, particularly if I didn't sleep all of it off or if I have to take more.

Another thing that makes women tired out by menstruation is the loss of iron / temporary anemia we experience. Tucker usually plans our meals accordingly at some point after my period has started so that we have spinach and/or beef.

And you know, I think in general menstruation requires a lot of our bodies' attentions and energies. I know there must be some women out there who barely notice their periods, but there are many many more who do experience a whole lot of tiring symptoms. Kudos to those who deal with it like it's nothing big . . . I am not one of those chicks who can be on the rag without the loss of a drop of energy or sleep.


Anonymous Brad said...

Interesting blog. Do you find women stain a lot of bed sheets because of their period? Have you had a sleepover with someone who was on or had an accident?

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Guy Nickologist said...


Thanks for this great post! This is the sort of thing I enjoy reading. I like knowing everything about having a period. This was super, keep it up!!

7:22 PM  

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