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What Causes Premenstrual Drowsiness? 5 Ways to Deal with It

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Have you ever experienced a sudden bout of extreme drowsiness right before your monthly period?
Have you ever found yourself struggling to find a solution that will keep you awake?

Premenstrual drowsiness is part of a collection of physical and mental symptoms that occur prior to menstruation, more commonly known as “Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).”
More than half of women who experience PMS symptoms also experience premenstrual drowsiness.

Let’s take a look at the causes of premenstrual drowsiness and explore ways to keep those eyelids up.

1.What is premenstrual drowsiness?

Extreme drowsiness prior to your monthly period is a symptom of “Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).

Let’s look at the causes and timeframes associated with premenstrual drowsiness.

1-1.Causes of premenstrual drowsiness

Right before your monthly period, you find yourself getting sleeeepy….sleeeepy…
This sleepiness is caused by a female hormone called “progesterone.
Here are two ways progesterone is responsible for making you feel drowsy.

1)Raises body temperature

One effect of progesterone is an increase in base body temperature.
Normally, you feel drowsy when your body temperature goes down, but progesterone keeps your body temperature high prior to menstruation, reducing the quality of the beauty sleep you get.
Your body temperature leaves you unable to fall deep enough into sleep at night, resulting in an overwhelming desire to sleep during the day.

2)Hypnotic effect
On top of that, progesterone has an almost hypnotic effect that elicits a strong desire to sleep.

Progesterone is almost as potent as commercially-available sleeping aids, and this effect is also responsible for making you feel extremely drowsy during the day.
Although the increase in progesterone levels is mostly the same for all women, some women are more sensitive to PMS symptoms than others.
If you experience debilitating drowsiness that leaves you unable to function normally during PMS, consider visiting your gynecologist for an examination.

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Your gynecologist can give you advice, as well as a prescription for traditional/modern remedies that could help you deal with your symptoms.
Although plenty of women undergo the same ordeal, the degree to which they experience symptoms usually varies from person to person.
Consult with a medical professional if you ever feel that your symptoms are too much to handle.

1-2.Period for PMS symptoms

Premenstrual drowsiness commonly occurs around 2 to 7 days prior to menstruation.
The amount of progesterone secreted by your body gradually increases after ovulation (14 days prior to menstruation) until just before menstruation.
This two-week period is usually when PMS symptoms such as premenstrual drowsiness occur.


The peak period for progesterone secretion worsens PMS symptoms, and this usually occurs from 2 to 7 days prior to menstruation.
Some women feel PMS symptoms right after ovulation.
Because progesterone production gradually decreases starting on the first day of menstruation, women experience relief from PMS symptoms (including premenstrual drowsiness) as soon as their period starts.

2.5 ways to deal with premenstrual drowsiness

Here are 5 ways to deal with extreme premenstrual drowsiness when it strikes:

1)Close your eyes and take a nap

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If you are at home or otherwise in an environment that you can actually sleep in, there’s no need to hold back. Go right ahead and indulge yourself!

If you are at work:
If you can spare the time for a nap (such as during lunch) and can secure a location to do so, a 15 to 20 minute nap will do wonders for you.

If you can’t find the time/location to nap:

Closing your eyes for even just a few moments can provide some brief but much-needed respite from drowsiness.

Just be careful not to actually fall asleep when you do this.

NOTE: Avoid napping after 5PM

You may end up not being able to sleep at night if you take a nap in the evening.

2)Stimulate known anti-drowsiness acupoints
Here are two acupressure points known to reduce drowsiness:

This acupressure point is known to reduce drowsiness and stimulate blood flow.


Location: part where the bones of the thumb and index finger meet, but a little closer to the index finger.
How to stimulate: gently place the underside of the opposing thumb on the area under the index finger bone. Try pressing this area with some force.

*Relax the hand that is being massaged.


Stimulate this acupressure point after stimulating GOKOKU.
This improves its stimulating anti-drowsiness effect.


Location: using the nose and both ears as a center point, draw an imaginary line that intersects right at the topmost part of the head.
How to stimulate: press using the underside of your fingers with just a little force.


Here are some stretches you can do even on the go.

The standing stretch
Stand on your tiptoes, reach upward with your arms, and stretch your whole body up.

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Stretch as far as you comfortable can.
This is effective for relieving drowsiness especially if you breath slowly and deeply as you stretch.

Deep breathing
Slowly and deeply inhale through your nose, then slowly exhale through your mouth.

眠気を覚ますツボ ストレッチ 深呼吸

Do this while doing other exercises, such as stretching exercises over the radio.
Deep breathing encourages oxygen flow to the brain, activating it in the process.

This is also recommended for casual exercises such as light walking.
Exposure to sunlight during the day is also a great way to get better sleep at night.

4)Drink some refreshing drinks

Herbal tea is a great drink for relieving drowsiness.


The scent of herbal tea will clear your head. It’s also great for relieving drowsiness and improving concentration.
Since it does not have caffeine, there’s not need to worry about the amount you drink or the time.

In particular, the following herbs are highly recommended:

These herbs’ refreshing scent are guaranteed to improve your mood, stimulate your brain, and eliminate drowsiness.

Of course, coffee comes into a lot of people’s minds when it comes to a good pick-me-up.

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While caffeine is indeed good for eliminating drowsiness, note that excessive caffeine intake may worsen the quality of your sleep at night.
If you do decide to take coffee for premenstrual drowsiness, remember to avoid drinking coffee after evening.

5)Wash your hands with cold water
If you need a quick jolt but do not have the time to try out the other methods listed, try washing your hands with cold water.

Using your cold hands to cool your neck can give you refreshing.

3.Tips to deal with prolonged premenstrual drowsiness

As explained earlier, in most cases the body decreases its progesterone production as soon as menstruation starts, relieving PMS symptoms including premenstrual drowsiness.
However, in some cases the drowsiness can last more than two weeks. Potential causes for this include:

During pregnancy, your body’s progesterone level does not increase and instead stays at a consistently high level, much longer than two weeks in some cases.

If you suspect you are pregnant, take a pregnancy test or see a medical professional.

2)Sleep disorders

If the drowsiness lasts even after your period starts, it’s possible that what you are experiencing is not a PMS symptom, but a sleep disorder such as hypersomnia.
If you feel drowsy and have trouble staying awake even after your period has started, please see a medical professional for diagnosis.
There are a number of possible causes for sleep disorders, so it’s always a good idea to seek the opinion of a sleep specialist or consult with a sleep clinic to find out more.
If no such facility is situated near you, try looking for a general hospital with a sleep specialist in its roster.

4. Summary

Overwhelming premenstrual drowsiness is caused by increased production of progesterone during the period between post-ovulation and pre-menstruation.
If premenstrual drowsiness attacks, try taking a nap/accupressure points/streatching to get that boost of energy you need!

This article was last updated on April 7th, 2016
No two individuals are alike. Please note that your results and experiences may vary from what is described in this article.