When I was a child, I remember watching my older sister sleep in a chaise lounge in our shared room. One week a month, during her period, that was her bed. She always said that lying down to sleep was more painful, and caused a mess of period blood. Her solution to those woes was to sleep upright.
When I started my cycle years later, I followed her example and spent my nights upright (and grossly uncomfortable from neck and back pain) in the same pale peach chair. One day, a group of my middle school friends talked about how their cramps felt so much better after laying down for a while, so I figured getting horizontal was worth a try. I tried lying down normally in my bed that very night, but didn’t find any relief. The waves of pain from cramps radiating out through my center were on repeat every few minutes, causing me to pop up moaning.
“Why don’t you just sit up?” my younger sister suggested, hearing my discomfort from the other room. We made a habit of checking in on each other during “that time of the month” because the cramps felt crippling. And she was right. I sat up and slowly but surely fell asleep. But I would still wake up with aches and pains in my spine from spending the night in an upright position.
Throughout my adult years, the sleep challenges have persisted well into motherhood, making it difficult to find a Goldilocks sleeping position for my period that wouldn’t make my cramps worse—or put the rest of my body in pain.