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Should I rest on my period?

It’s a common question that many women ask themselves each month – should I take it easy and rest during my period? Or should I push through and carry on as normal? There are good arguments on both sides of the debate, and the right answer will depend on your individual circumstances.

The case for resting during your period

There are some compelling reasons why you may want to scale back your activities and get more rest during your period:

  • Fatigue – Many women experience menstrual fatigue caused by hormonal fluctuations, pain, disturbed sleep and low iron levels. Resting more can help restore your energy.
  • Cramps – Menstrual cramps are a painful reality for many women. The prostaglandins that trigger uterine muscle contractions can also make you feel sore and achy. Gentle activities like resting, stretching or hot packs can provide relief.
  • Heavy bleeding – If you lose a large amount of blood during your period, you may feel weak or dizzy at times. Taking it easier when the flow is heavy allows your body to replenish its iron levels.
  • Mood changes – Shifts in estrogen and progesterone can disrupt your mood before or during your period. Being overly busy may exacerbate mood swings. Rest allows your emotions to stabilize.
  • Nausea – Some women experience nausea as part of PMS or during their period. Too much activity can make symptoms worse. Resting in a quiet, dark room can settle a queasy stomach.

The key thing to remember is that you know your body best. If your period makes you feel utterly exhausted,don’t push yourself to the limit. Be kind to yourself and allow your body to rest.

Reasons to stay active during your period

On the other hand, there are some benefits to continuing your normal routine during your period:

  • Exercise helps – Light to moderate exercise like walking, swimming or yoga can reduce cramps and improve mood through the release of endorphins.
  • Avoid low energy trap – Too much rest can make you feel more tired. Staying mildly active keeps your energy levels up.
  • Reduce fluid retention – Moving your body helps minimize bloating and swelling that contributes to discomfort.
  • Support mental health – Keeping your regular schedule provides structure and normalcy, which is good for your state of mind.
  • Prevent stiff joints – Changing position and stretching periodically prevents your joints from stiffening up.

The takeaway is that continuing gentle movement can prevent your pain and fatigue from worsening. Complete rest is not necessarily better.

Tips to find the right balance

Most women don’t need complete bed rest during menstruation. However, you may need to reduce your activity levels and take more downtime. Here are some ways to find the right balance:

  • Prioritize rest – Listen to your body’s signals about when to rest. Cancel nonessential activities if needed.
  • Pace yourself – Spread chores and tasks out over days to avoid overexertion. Take breaks as required.
  • Hydrate often – Dehydration exacerbates many period symptoms. Drink lots of water and herbal tea.
  • Eat nourishing foods – Folate-rich foods can relieve fatigue. Avoid inflammatory foods like sugar, alcohol and caffeine.
  • Try yoga/stretching – Gentle yoga poses massage the uterus and encourage relaxation. Stretching eases muscle tension.
  • Use heating pads – Apply heat to cramping areas for natural pain relief. Avoid strenuous exercise.
  • Ask for help – Don’t be afraid to enlist help from family for household responsibilities when you need rest.

Be flexible day-to-day based on how you feel. With self care and communication, you can modify your activity appropriately during your period.

How much rest do you need on your period?

There are no definitive rules about how much rest women need during menstruation. The optimal amount depends on the individual and can also vary from cycle to cycle. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Light days – On lighter flow days with mild symptoms, normal activity is fine. Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep nightly.
  • Heavy days – Scale back on strenuous physical and mental tasks. Rest or nap as needed. Sleep extra 1-3 hours if very fatigued.
  • Severe pain – Prioritize comfort and self care during intense cramping. Limit activity to basic self care and light housework.
  • Extreme fatigue – If excessive tiredness interferes with work/study, take a day off for recovery. Spend time relaxing or napping.
  • Listen to your body – Adapt your activity level based on your symptoms and energy that day.

Aim to incorporate some gentle activity each day, even if you primarily need rest. Stay within your capacity and rest when your body asks for it.

Best rest and recovery practices for your period

Here are some restorative practices you can incorporate during your period to help your body and mind recover:

  • Take relaxing baths – Soak in a warm Epsom salt bath to soothe cramps and unwind.
  • Try meditation – Even 10 minutes of meditation can calm your mind and ease tension.
  • Do gentle yoga – Try child’s pose, legs up the wall,SUPPORTED backbends or other nurturing poses.
  • Massage uterine area – Use a tennis ball or massage tool to gently rub lower abdomen.
  • Use a heating pad – Apply soothing warmth to your belly and back to relax muscles.
  • Listen to calming music – Play tranquil, ambient music to de-stress.
  • Drink herbal tea – Sip on ginger, peppermint or chamomile tea to ease nausea.
  • Take brief walks – Gentle movement improves circulation and mood.
  • Nap as needed – Allow your body to sleep when overly tired.

Prioritize calming activities that feel comforting to you. Do less and rest more when your body needs time to heal.

Signs you may need more rest while menstruating

Watch for these signs from your body that you may need more downtime during your period:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Severe fatigue making daily tasks difficult
  • Ongoing headaches or lightheadedness
  • Bad menstrual cramps preventing activity
  • Mood lability or frequent crying spells
  • Muscle weakness interfering with function
  • Sudden onset of nausea or vomiting
  • Inability to concentrate or focus mentally
  • Needing daytime naps to function

If you regularly experience several of these symptoms, be sure to build in extra time for self-care and recovery during menstruation.

When to see your doctor about period fatigue

It’s normal to need some extra rest during your period. However, if you experience severe fatigue that disrupts your regular function, see your doctor. They can assess for underlying causes like:

  • Anemia – Heavy periods can deplete iron stores and lead to anemia, a condition where your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells. Symptoms include major fatigue, weakness, pale skin and shortness of breath. Anemia is diagnosed with a blood test. Your doctor may recommend iron supplements to increase low iron levels.
  • Thyroid issues – An underactive thyroid gland reduces your metabolism and causes fatigue. A simple TSH blood test can reveal if you have hypothyroidism. Treatment involves taking thyroid hormone replacement medication.
  • Endometriosis – This disorder where tissue similar to the uterine lining grows outside the uterus can cause severe pelvic pain and tiredness, especially during your period. Your doctor can check for endometriosis via ultrasound or laparoscopy surgery. Hormonal medications or surgery may help manage endometriosis.
  • Depression – Some women experience worsening of depressive symptoms before or during menstruation. If fatigue and other symptoms are severely impacting your life, see your doctor for an evaluation or referral to a mental health professional. Anti-depressant medication and therapy can help.

Always consult your doctor if period fatigue, pain or other symptoms seem abnormal. Serious underlying conditions can then be identified and treated.

Lifestyle changes to reduce period fatigue

For women with less severe fatigue, making certain lifestyle changes may help:

  • Take a daily iron supplement – Boost iron intake to prevent deficiency if you have heavy periods.
  • Eat more folate and B vitamins – Focus on folate-rich greens, beans, citrus fruits. B-rich foods like fish and eggs also increase energy.
  • Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water and herbal tea. Dehydration worsens fatigue.
  • Exercise regularly – 30 minutes per day of light activity improves circulation and fights fatigue.
  • Cut back on sugar and alcohol – These can destabilize blood sugar and your mood before/during your period.
  • Reduce stress – Try yoga, meditation and deep breathing. Stress management helps combat fatigue.
  • Get enough magnesium – Magnesium-rich foods or a supplement can reduce menstrual migraines.
  • Spend time outdoors – Exposure to daylight boosts your serotonin and vitamin D levels.

Making healthy adjustments to your diet, exercise routine, and lifestyle habits goes a long way towards fighting menstrual fatigue.

When you have a physically demanding job

Women who have jobs with substantial physical demands often wonder if they need time off work during their periods. Here are some tips:

  • Talk to your boss – Have an open conversation about your period symptoms. See if you can arrange Period Days where you take on lighter duties.
  • Ask colleagues for help – Request assistance with heavy lifting or more strenuous tasks on difficult days.
  • Take regular breaks – Find times to briefly rest your body and recharge during the workday.
  • Adjust your schedule – If possible, avoid night shifts when you typically have heavier flow or pain.
  • Prioritize good sleep – Make sure you get enough sleep so you don’t start work tired.
  • Consider leave if needed – Take sick days during an extremely painful or tiring period if rest is necessary for your health.

Don’t feel obligated to push yourself past your limit. With some flexibility in the workplace, you can balance your job and period symptoms.

Should students or athletes rest during periods?

Young women involved in high school or college sports, or who have demanding academic schedules, often wonder if they need days off during their period. Some tips for students and athletes:

  • Avoid missing school/practice – Power through milder symptoms but rest if severe.
  • Communicate with your coach – Tell them if you need to modify activity due to cramps, fatigue, etc.
  • Adjust intensity if needed – Do lighter training like walking or stretching vs high intensity on harder days.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication – Ibuprofen or naproxen can make exercising bearable.
  • Stay hydrated – Dehydration makes exercise more difficult during your period.
  • Consider menstrual suppression – Speak to your doctor about temporarily stopping your periods for events/competitions if periods are very problematic.
  • Learn when you need rest – Over time, understand your limits so you know when to take a break.

With preparation and awareness, you can balance your period symptoms with academic and athletic responsibilities. But never endanger your health – it’s ok to rest if you need to.


Whether or not to rest during your period is ultimately your personal choice. Be aware of your own energy levels and health needs. If you feel fine to continue exercising or working, there’s no strict need for rest. But during a difficult, painful or fatiguing period, listen to your body – extra downtime for self-care is warranted. Finding a balance between resting and staying active results in the healthiest and most productive outcome.