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Endometriosis and Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep when you’re dealing with endometriosis isn’t easy. I’ve had many nights where I’ve been awake in pain and wondering if I’ll ever get back to sleep. Since navigating my way through years of living with endometriosis and through my nutrition studies, I’ve learned that sleep is one of the most important ways to improve my overall sense of well-being and to reduce the pain and anxiety that occurs with endometriosis.

So here are three ways that can help you improve your sleep with endometriosis:

Sleep hygiene

Practicing good sleep hygiene is pretty essential for me getting a good night sleep. Sleep hygiene is just good habits that improve your sleep quality. Here are some ways to practice good sleep hygiene for endometriosis:

  • Turn off electrical devices such as your tablet, television and computer.
  • When you’re ready for bed, turn your phone off or put it on airplane mode.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes, as they disrupt your sleep.
  • Get into a regular pattern of going to bed and getting up at the same time, because this trains your body to know when to sleep.
  • Don’t use your bed to do work, eat, or watch TV.
  • Sleep rituals can work wonders to wind you down; this can include things like meditation, breathing or relaxing stretches, or a cup of herbal tea.
  • A healthy balanced diet helps with sleep, but timing is key: avoid going to bed too full or too hungry because both can be distracting.
  • Keep a heat pad and any medications you might need and water ready, on the bedside table. This way if you wake from endometriosis pain everything is within reach and you don’t have to search the house to find what you need.
  • If you do wake up and are awake for a while, get up, keep the lights low and do something really boring, this should help you feel sleepy.

Diet and nutrients

The nutrients we obtain from our diet are really important for sleep. Melatonin is a neurotransmitter involved in our circadian rhythms and sleep. Melatonin is formed from the amino acid tryptophan which can be obtained from various food sources (mainly high protein foods) like chicken, eggs, milk, fish, peanuts, seeds, milk, soy and chocolate.1

Magnesium is a mineral involved in hundreds of reactions within the body including muscle relaxation and contraction, nervous system regulation and energy development. Magnesium has been found to lower inflammation, help with symptoms of PMS, migraines and improve sleep quality.2,3 Magnesium can be found in a wide range of whole foods such as green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard, nuts and seeds, dark chocolate, black beans and quinoa.2 If you’re following a healthy whole food-based diet, you should be able to get enough magnesium. Sometimes, though, during times of stress and chronic pain, a supplement can help; I take about 300g of magnesium citrate per evening after dinner to help with sleep.

Exercise

Exercise is known to improve sleep; One study showed that moderate intensity aerobic exercise or high intensity resistance exercise improved sleep quality in adults with sleep problems.4 Exercise has also shown to be protective against endometriosis, so if you can manage to exercise, you’ll be helping your endometriosis and your sleep quality.5

This is great news, but it can be a challenge to feel well enough to exercise when you have endometriosis. When it comes to exercise, I believe it’s about finding something you enjoy doing, that you can actually do regularly and that doesn’t flare up your endo. For me, I practice yoga – which can be an intense workout, but I don’t practice to the same level of intensity every day, I listen to my body and do the best I can.

What do you find helps with your sleep? Leave a comment below and share with the community.

Yours in health,

Meredith x

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Endometriosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Healthline. (2018). What is tryptophan? Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/tryptophan.
  2. Healthline. (2018). 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Magnesium. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-magnesium-benefits.
  3. Nielsen, F, H, Johnson, L, K., & Zeng H. (2010). Magnesium supplementation improves indicators of low magnesium status and inflammatory stress in adults older than 51 years with poor quality sleep. Magnesium Research, 23(4), 158-168. Doi 10.1684/mrh.2010.0220.
  4. Yang, P, Y., Ho, K, H., Chen, H, C & Chien, M, Y. (2012). Exercise training improves sleep quality in middle-aged and older adults with sleep problems: a systematic review. Journal of Physiotherapy, 58(3), 157 – 163.
  5. Bonocher, C. M., Montenegro, M. L., Rosa E Silva, J. C., Ferriani, R. A., & Meola, J. (2014). Endometriosis and physical exercises: a systematic review. Reproductive biology and endocrinology: RB&E, 12, 4. doi:10.1186/1477-7827-12-4.

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