How to fight fatigue on your period


Emma Thornton
Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
@EmmaThornton
Ask Emma


15 November 2018

Period fatigue

Fatigue is a common period symptom, as your hormones play an important role in regulating sleep patterns and energy levels. Since hormone levels fluctuate during your period, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you can be left feeling exhausted around this time each month. But what steps can you take to help fight this monthly bout of tiredness? 

Drink lots of water

It might seem counter-intuitive to increase your water intake if you’re already dealing with period symptoms such as bloating, but did you know that the more water you drink, the more water your body will eliminate? This means that drinking more water could actually help to alleviate the bloating many women experience alongside their other monthly symptoms.

Plus, research has shown that when you’re dehydrated you are more likely to experience fatigue low mood, and struggle with cognitive function too.1 This can be a result of a drop in blood pressure, which means less oxygenated blood will flow to the brain and you might struggle with fatigue and sluggishness.

When it comes to your period, changing oestrogen levels can contribute to dehydration, by affecting how much water your body retains. So, it’s important to stay hydrated during your period, in order to fight fatigue. This means drinking plenty of water and taking into account how much alcohol you might be consuming during this week of the month. Not only is alcohol known to dehydrate your body, it also affects your hormone levels which can toy with how much sleep you’re getting. If you often feel fatigued during your period, try drinking more water and less alcohol to see if this could be the cause.

Get a good night’s sleep

It might seem like an obvious suggestion, but it’s important to get plenty of sleep to help fight fatigue during the day. Ideally, you should be getting eight hours of sleep every night while on your period. However, it can be difficult to fit this many hours around a busy schedule, so if you can’t necessarily get a full night’s sleep, it’s important that you at least get a good night’s sleep.

Try these simple tips to get a good night’s sleep on your period:

  • Stop drinking coffee late in the afternoon! Try to keep your caffeine consumption to the first half of the day to avoid spiking your energy levels and lying awake for hours, which will leave you feeling exhausted the next morning.
  • Try winding down with a warm bath. This can help you to relax after a busy day, as well as relieving period cramps. Plus, your body temperature is important when it comes to sleep, with your temperature dropping as you become tired. Getting out of a warm bath and into bed can help with that temperature drop and make you feel nice and sleepy.
  • Stop using your phone in bed! Staring at blue light, whether it’s from your phone, tablet or computer, will cause your brain to think it’s still daytime. This will affect your circadian rhythms and make it harder to reach REM sleep, which is important for feeling rested.
  • Try to establish a regular bedtime routine and go to bed at the same time every night. This will help to regulate your circadian rhythms and get into a pattern, helping you sleep better at night.
  • Sleep with the curtains open. Although this might not work all year round, during the spring and summer it can help to balance your natural circadian rhythms if you wake up as the sky begins to brighten, rather than struggling against the darkness caused by your black-out blinds. 

For more tips on how to sleep better on your period, read my blog here.

Get yourself moving

Although exercise might be the last thing on your mind if you’re having a particularly difficult period, it can be a great way to fight fatigue for several reasons. Aerobic exercises (like running or cycling) get our blood pumping and increase our blood oxygen levels, which helps to wake us up and get our brains working. They also help to improve your mood by boosting endorphins, which can make all the difference when you’re trying to get through a busy day while feeling tired. Plus, one study has found that aerobic exercise can help to relieve period cramps too!2

If you feel as though you can’t manage strenuous exercise while on your period, even walking can help! A short, brisk walk can get your blood pumping and will help you feel energised if you’re feeling sluggish. Plus, expending energy will help you to tire yourself out, meaning you may find it easier to sleep, which should help with low energy levels the next morning! If you’re looking for inspiration, have a look at my blog on simple exercises to do on your period.

Avoid caving into cravings

Many of us will experience cravings when we are on our period, and it’s not usually fresh vegetables or lean options we have a hankering for! We usually crave sugary foods like ice cream and chocolate, but this only wreaks more havoc on our energy levels. When we eat sugary foods like these, our blood glucose levels spike, which can then lead to disaster when they inevitably crash later on.

Try to eat small, healthy meals throughout the day instead of bingeing on sugary treats. Complex carbohydrates such as brown rice or pasta will be better for your blood glucose levels than refined carbohydrates like pastries and white bread. This will help to avoid the crash that comes after eating sugary foods, and will help you to fend off period-related fatigue. If you can’t ignore your cravings for something sweet, you can try eating a small amount dark chocolate with a high cacao percentage. Read my blog on how chocolate can help other period symptoms too! 

Increase the iron in your diet

Women are more at risk of an iron deficiency because we lose blood every time we have our period. Iron deficiency, or anaemia, is characterised by a lack of red blood cells in the body, which are responsible for carrying oxygen to the tissues through the blood. Iron is also responsible for converting blood sugar to energy. So, you can see why fatigue is the most common symptom of iron deficiency.

If you find that you’re still feeling fatigued despite taking my advice above, talk to your doctor about getting tested for iron deficiency. In the meantime, you can try to boost how much iron you’re getting through your diet by incorporating foods like spinach and pumpkin seeds into your meals and snacks. To find out more about the importance of iron and good dietary iron sources, read this blog.

Boost your energy levels with Balance

If you’re looking for some extra support when fighting fatigue on your period, A.Vogel’s Balance Mineral Drink is perfect for an energy boost. It’s a great source of essential electrolytes such as magnesium, which is especially useful during your period when levels are low.

Try mixing it into a smoothie for a quick boost in the morning, or simply add water for a refreshing drink that will improve your energy levels and help to fight fatigue.

1https://ase.tufts.edu/psychology/spacelab/pubs/DAnciEtAlHydrationPMS_2009.pdf

2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3748549/ 

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As the A.Vogel  Women’s Health advisor, I recommend Agnus castus to help relieve premenstrual symptoms such as painful periods.

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