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It's Totally Normal to Be Tired Before Your Period. Here's Why.

Diane Shipley

Posted on August 15 2017

You’re just going about your business, feeling fine, and then a few days before your period, it’s like your body is on a go-slow. Suddenly, you have to drag yourself out of bed, struggle to stay awake at work, and the only extra-curricular activity that interests you is a hot date with your favorite blanket. You’re tired, exhausted, worn out. Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, up to 85% of us experience PMS to some extent. Tiredness is one of the most common symptoms, but there’s no single, simple explanation for why that might be. Instead, there’s a range of possible factors why you might be tired before your period, one or more of which may be to blame. Allow us to break them down for you…


The National Sleep Foundation found that 33% of women have trouble sleeping around this time, which could have a hormonal cause. Halfway through your cycle, your levels of estrogen and progesterone increase to prepare your body for pregnancy. When you don’t get knocked up, those hormones dip to tell your body to have a period, instead. If you have naturally high levels of progesterone, which would otherwise help you to sleep soundly, you may find yourself staring at the ceiling come 3 AM.


Another common premenstrual symptom, depression is often linked to exhaustion and can make you believe sleeping twenty-three hours a day is a solid life plan. (It isn’t, FYI. There’s far too much happening on Netflix.)

A magnesium deficiency

Premenstrual fatigue has been linked to a lack of magnesium. Normally estrogen helps to maximise your levels of this essential mineral, but when your hormones drop before a period, any deficiencies are exposed, meaning you’ll need to put your feet up more frequently.


A lot of us crave simple carbs when we’re PMS-ing, possibly because of a dip in levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin. We reach for snacks like chips and chocolate to boost our blood sugar and give us a temporary boost of energy and optimism, but then a couple of hours later, we come crashing down. The more we stuff our faces, the more lethargic we feel, and the more we want a quick fix. It’s a vicious circle.

Being sedentary

It sounds counter-intuitive, but when you’re tired, exercise can help you feel more energised, and if you do it in the afternoon or early evening, you’ll sleep better, too. It doesn’t even have to be a huge workout: a short walk can be a bigger boost to energy than taking a nap.

Of course, if you feel fatigued all the time, you should see your doctor ASAP. Among other possibilities, you might have an underactive thyroid, or iron-deficient anaemia (which will also make your periods heavier). But chances are, you can address some of these issues without too much trouble: eat protein and wholegrains alongside any sugar you consume, to slow its absorption; make sure your diet’s not lacking in any key nutrients; and add a few more steps to your daily routine.

If you’ve made your best efforts, but still find you’re more weary than usual when you’re pre-menstrual, it might just be your body’s way of encouraging you to take it easy. Kick back with a book, have a few early nights, and enjoy the calm before the storm.

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