Sleeping in the fetal position, on the back, or the side can reduce discomfort and improve sleep quality during menstruation.

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Menstrual cramps typically occur in the lower abdomen and back during a period.

During a period, the body sheds the lining that builds up within the uterus. This leads to menstrual bleeding as blood and other tissues pass through the cervix and out of the vagina. Periods typically last 3–5 days, although this can vary between individuals.

When a person is having their period, they may have difficulty sleeping. Sleeping in certain positions may help relieve menstrual cramps and promote better sleep.

This article reviews sleep positions that may be beneficial during menstruation. Keep reading to learn more about these and other techniques for managing menstrual cramps. It also answers some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about menstrual cramps.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that sleeping in the fetal position may help reduce menstrual cramping for some people. This position involves lying on the side and tucking the legs toward the chest.

Sleeping in the fetal position can encourage the abdominal muscles to relax. Relaxing these muscles may reduce the intensity of menstrual cramps in the lower abdomen.

Learn more about the fetal and other sleeping positions.

Studies have also indicated that sleeping on the side can reduce back pain. Lying on the side also reduces pressure on the abdomen and may enhance nighttime comfort.

People who find side sleeping helpful during their period may benefit from placing a pillow between their knees. Experimenting with different pillow positions can help people find the best position.

Determining the correct sleeping position depends on the individual and their period symptoms. Try exploring different positions to see which one brings the most relief.

Learn about which side is best to sleep on.

Lying on the back may also help reduce menstrual cramping while sleeping. First, lying on the back reduces pressure on the abdomen. This may improve cramping symptoms over lying directly on the stomach.

Research has shown that sleeping on the back can also reduce back pain. As such, this position may relieve lower back pain associated with menstrual cramps.

Some individuals may benefit from placing a pillow under their knees while in this position. Elevating the knees can take pressure off the lower back and further improve period symptoms.

Learn more about sleeping on the back here.

Before going to bed, certain natural supplements and gentle exercise may help reduce menstrual cramps.

Natural supplements for menstrual cramps

Drinking chamomile tea before bed can help alleviate menstrual cramps. One 2021 study that reviewed research on chamomile tea for period relief found that chamomile reduces pain, inflammation, and heavy menstrual bleeding.

Research has also found that ginger decreased the intensity of period pain. A 2018 study found ginger was as effective as the pain medication Novafen. Like chamomile, ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties. It can also treat nausea, which many people experience during their period.

Before sleeping, taking ginger or chamomile in capsule or tea form can improve period symptoms. Herbal supplements may also have fewer side effects than synthetic drugs, making them a good choice for holistic self-care.

Learn about other natural treatments and medication for period pains here.

Gentle exercise for menstrual cramps

Studies have also found that regular exercise may reduce menstrual pain intensity. A 2019 study found that exercising three times a week for 45–60 minutes improved period symptoms for some participants.

Another study compared yoga with aerobic exercise for targeting period pain. Researchers found that yoga was more effective for treating period symptoms than aerobic exercise.

A gentle yoga session before sleeping is an excellent option for period pain. Be sure to speak with a doctor before beginning any new exercise routine.

Learn more about exercising during a period.

Pain relief medication, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, can help ease pain from menstrual cramps. Other tips to relieve menstrual cramps include:

There are many at-home options available for relieving menstrual cramps.

If menstrual pain does not respond to at-home treatments, do not hesitate to see a medical professional. They can perform a full evaluation to test for other health conditions and recommend a course of treatment.

Severe period pain, or dysmenorrhea, may indicate a serious health condition, such as endometriosis, fibroids, or polycystic ovary syndrome.

Learn more about natural remedies for menstrual pain.

Period symptoms can vary widely between individuals. Some people may experience mild cramping, while others may experience debilitating pain. Below are a couple of FAQ about periods.

How to prevent period cramps?

It is not always possible to prevent period cramps. The amount and intensity of period cramps depend on the individual, but there are steps to take that can reduce period cramp severity.

Regular exercise can reduce the severity of period cramps. Yoga is particularly useful for addressing period pain, but aerobic exercise is also beneficial.

Individuals with debilitating period cramps may benefit from birth control pills or a hormonal intrauterine device (IUD). Alternative treatments, such as acupressure, physical therapy, and acupuncture, may also help make period cramps more manageable.

Learn if it’s possible to stop period pain permantely.

Why are periods worse when lying down?

Scientists have found that periods can reduce sleep duration and quality. They can also increase fatigue, depression, and stress, adversely affecting sleep.

Heavy menstrual bleeding may also cause poor sleep.

Both poor sleep and insomnia may make periods seem worse during the night. Cramping may become more noticeable without daytime distractions.

Certain sleep positions may improve period symptoms when lying down. Sleeping in the fetal position, on the back with knees supported by a pillow, or on the side can help.

Learn more about the best sleeping positions for lower back pain.

Menstrual cramps typically occur in the lower abdomen and may adversely affect sleep. Discomfort caused by menstrual cramps can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep. Many individuals experience insomnia or other sleep disturbances during their period.

Different sleeping positions may improve sleep quality for individuals experiencing a period. Sleeping on the back or the side can take pressure off the abdomen and may alleviate cramps.

People can explore sleep positions during their period to see what works best for them. If menstrual cramps do not respond to home remedies, speak with a doctor to learn about alternative treatments.