Many of us are familiar with the ebbs and monthly flow of menstruation. Mood swings, cravings and fatigue can seem like a pain, but truth be told, there is a bit of magic if you know where to look when it comes to one’s monthly menstrual cycle.
And I’m referring to the entire cyclical month, not just the time of menstruation. We can’t fast-forward through that week of PMS, no matter how bad we’d like to.
But what if I told you we can make our menstrual cycle and fluctuating hormones work for us?
Welcome to the world of cycle syncing.
What is Cycle Syncing?
Cycle-syncing is essentially the practice of aligning one’s lifestyle to their menstrual cycle. According to Dave Asprey, cycle-syncing was first introduced by Alisa Vitti, a functional nutritionist and author of WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source.
Cycle syncing may seem complicated when your monthly flow is on a biological clock rather than the linear one we’re used to.
Cycle syncing is the practice of aligning one’s lifestyle to their menstrual cycle.
And while it’s impossible to snap our fingers and have that time of the month come on command, there are ways to become more familiar with the ebbs and flows we experience and how we can make them work for us. Read on to learn more about this rising wellness trend.
Benefits of Cycle Syncing
Adjusting lifestyle to match the fluctuations of one’s menstrual cycle can help ease any current symptoms that arise from fluctuating hormones. A myriad of changes occur in the body throughout the menstrual cycle, as confirmed by research.
Over the course of a month, one usually experiences the perceived “negative” side effects such as fatigue, bloating and cravings, to name a few. Conversely, at other times of the month, we have increased sex drive, are more optimistic and full of energy and focus.
There are a myriad of changes that occur, both internal and external, to menstruating people every month.
Cycle syncing can help ease any current symptoms that arise from fluctuating hormones.
Becoming familiar with the particular symptoms one experiences and when these occur provides the necessary information to better connect with the body.
This can contribute to overall well-being and improved quality of life. By understanding how your cycle affects your energy levels, appetite, sleep and stress levels, you can make the most of your body’s natural processes and avoid burnout or other adverse effects.
Research suggests that tweaking diet and exercise to match one’s menstrual cycle may be more effective at achieving weight loss than traditional approaches in premenopausal women.
Here is how cycle syncing may support your exercise, diet, sleep and your social life.
Cycle Syncing and Exercise
Adjusting your movement and exercise habits to meet your menstrual cycle can support your body by giving it precisely what it needs at any given time.
Cycle syncing also helps because when you sync your workouts to the phases of your menstrual cycle, you can work out more effectively and know when to push or ease off, all of which transfers over to other areas of your life, including sleep, appetite, mood and more.
Knowing where you are hormonally during the month can help you make the most of your energy and avoid pushing yourself too hard when your body needs more rest. This can also help prevent overtraining and the risk of injury.
Cycle Syncing and Diet
Appetite goes up and down like a rollercoaster during the month, thanks to hormones. And these fluctuations in our body also influence what cravings we experience and how intense they may seem.
But slowing down and staying aware of the different phases of the menstrual cycle can set us up for success when it comes to better managing our appetite and cravings.
Cycle Syncing and Sleep
Some menstruating people experience sleep issues at different times of the month, particularly during the second half. Knowing in advance that you usually struggle with getting zzz’s in at this time can help you stay proactive, perhaps spending extra time on your nightly sleep routine or taking melatonin or magnesium.
Syncing your sleep schedule to your menstrual cycle can help you get the rest you need and avoid fatigue or other sleep-related issues.
Cycle Syncing and Socializing, Energy and Mood
The monthly cycle also impacts energy, mood and stress. For example, during the second half of the month, some experience increased anxiety or irritability leading up to menstruation due to hormone fluctuations. Adding extra relaxation and self-care to your cycle can help manage stress and avoid overwhelm.
At the other end of the spectrum, we can feel more alert and social. Cycle syncing can help with knowing when you will feel more available energetically, so you can plan that night out or presentation to align during this time.
Whether you use an app on your phone or keep it old school with a pen and calendar, recording your period is crucial to harnessing the magic of your monthly cycle. Read on to break down the menstrual cycle to understand the phases of the menstrual cycle.
(And if you want to dive in even further, look no further than author Lisa Lister’s work.)
3 Phases of the Menstrual Cycle:
The menstrual cycle is traditionally divided into three phases. Each phase is associated with physiological changes impacting everything from mood, sleep, energy and more. Read on to learn about each stage of the menstrual cycle and its associated change.
Menstrual Phase 1: Follicular
The follicular phase starts on day 1 or the day you get your period or menstruation. This phase constitutes the first half of the menstrual cycle, lasting around 14 days. During this time, the lining of the uterine wall thickens to prepare for pregnancy. This is also the time the ovaries develop a follicle containing an egg.
Menstrual Phase 2: Ovulation
The second phase of the monthly cycle is ovulation. This occurs in the middle, around day 14 of a 28 day cycle. Ovulation is sandwiched between the other two phases, marking the midpoint of the traditional three-phase menstrual cycle.
This short phase begins when the egg is released from the ovary to travel down the fallopian tube. The ovulatory phase lasts about 24 hours.
Menstrual Phase 3: Luteal
The third and final phase is the luteal phase, which lasts around 14 days. Hormones like progesterone increase during this time, as do chemicals similar to hormones, including prostaglandins.
Wait, I Thought There Were 4 Phases?
Some experts split the follicular or first phase into two parts, separating menstruation from the other days leading up to ovulation. The four-phase method may be a better fit for menstrual cycle syncing as moods and energy can shift drastically from menstruation to the days just before ovulation.
Splitting up the follicular phase better illustrates the myriad of changes a menstruating person goes through during the month, making it a more complete cycle regarding syncing lifestyle to menstruation.
Want to know more? Here’s A Week-By-Week Guide to Navigating the 4 Monthly Phases of Your Menstrual Cycle
The Seasons of the Menstrual Cycle:
Many experts, including Lisa Lister, author of the book Code Red: Know Your Flow, Unlock Your Super Powers and Create a Bloody Amazing Life. Period., breaks down these phases further, categorizing them as seasons.
For example, menstruation equates to winter, a time when we need to slow down, recharge and relax. While ovulation, or summer, equates to a time where we’re social, full of energy and see the world more optimistically.
Comparing our monthly metamorphosis to earth’s changing seasons makes natural sense.
Let’s explore the different seasons of the monthly cycle and how adjusting your lifestyle can be more supportive to living your best life.
The Winter Season: Menstruation
Menstrual Phase: The first half of the traditional Follicular phase. This season begins the day the blood flows and lasts until you stop, about day 6 or 7, depending on your menstrual cycle. Winter reflects a time of rest and hibernation.
Self-Care: If you can take time to yourself the first day or two of your menstruation, then do it. You may not feel like working out these first couple of days, which is okay. However, light movement, like a walk or a Yin Yoga class, can be soothing to the discomforts you may be feeling.
Light Candles and Nourish Your Body With A Yin Yoga Class
Relax and unwind with common Yin Yoga poses in this online Yin Yoga class on YA Classes designed for you to melt and nourish your entire body. Simply Yin is a slow and steady, deeply calming yoga class that is perfect for the Winter Season of your menstrual cycle.
The Winter Season of Menstruation is a good time to simplify and slow down, especially on days 1 and 2. Spend time nourishing your body, giving it what it needs. Hydrate. Rest. Retreat.
Nourishment: Cravings can be intense leading up to menstruation and carry into the first few days. Stick to fiber-rich foods, hydration, healthy protein and fats at meals.
Found: These 5 Snacks Will Help Balance Your Hormones
The Spring Season: Pre-Ovulation
Menstrual Phase: The second half of the Follicular Phase. Typically starts around days 7-10. We’ve come out of winter or menstruation and are starting to feel the sun on our faces. Energy levels begin to rise and mood improves. As we get closer to ovulation, our confidence grows, as does our libido. Mental clarity also improves.
Self-Care: This is the perfect time for higher-intensity exercise, including HIIT, spin and vigorous yoga.
Nourishment: Appetite usually decreases now, and with the increase in energy, we may feel rested after less sleep. However, a significant imbalance during this time of energy out without enough self-care may wreak havoc later on in the menstrual cycle through moodiness, cravings and feelings of PMS.
The Summer Season: Ovulation
Menstrual Phase: Mid-Point in the traditional menstruation cycle. Typically days 13-21 for a 28-day cycle. Hormones peak during ovulation, as does energy and mood. We may be doing more and sitting less. We experience higher levels of confidence, extroversion and creativity.
Self-Care: This is the time to make plans, go out and be a social butterfly. Sex drive will be highest now leading up to the egg being released. Plan significant events during this “summer” phase. Continue with higher-intensity workouts if they feel good.
Swap Out Your Yoga Class for This HIIT Class During the Ovulation Phase
This dynamic and challenging online HIIT class on YA Classes is a wonderful way to experience the peak of your menstrual cycle. Expect a lively and high-energy 20-minute workout where you will work on your agility and cardio and strengthen your whole body – all set to a great playlist!
Nourishment: Appetite increases from this time through the end of the monthly cycle. Keep blood sugars balanced by following a regular eating schedule and including protein and healthy fat at meals.
The Fall Season: Pre-Menstrual (Luteal Phase)
Menstrual Phase: Luteal Phase. This season usually encompasses days 21-27, or until flow begins. With hormones shifting, it’s normal at this point for energy and mood to dip. This may lead to more tears and irritability. Fatigue will start setting in and cravings will intensify.
Self-Care: With heightened emotions, consider taking time away from social media and negative people. We may feel hypercritical these days, both to ourselves and others. This is a good time to declutter and clean your space.
Do what feels good during this season. If it’s not a hell yeah, then it’s a no. Switch out high-intensity exercise for lower-impact activities that can provide soothing benefits. Try walking, especially outside in nature. Consider a restorative or Yin Yoga for better sleep class.
Want to know how to adapt your yoga routine according to your menstrual cycle? Here’s Yoga for Menstrual Health: How to Practice During Each Menstrual Phase
Go swimming, but avoid beating your best time; instead, enjoy the buoyancy of the water and everything your body does for you. Basically, slow down and move in a TLC-type of way. Practice good sleep hygiene to support your body in achieving optimal rest. This season is known for insomnia and other sleep-related issues like night sweats.
Nourishment: With cravings ramping up, instead of restricting, try choosing higher fiber foods and continuing the pattern of protein and healthy fat at meals to maintain steady blood sugar levels.
Is Cycle Syncing Legit?
Despite the above information, you may still wonder if cycle syncing is legit. Like most things in the science world, more research is needed to confirm the benefits of synchronizing your lifestyle to the different phases of your menstrual cycle. However, research does support this.
Consider that hormones drastically fluctuate each month, which can feel like a rollercoaster regarding energy, appetite, emotions and more.
A little self-experimentation goes a long way, especially when done in a safe and healthy way, such as modifying workouts and social activities to different times of the month.
And with all experiments, record results and findings in a journal, period tracking app or paper calendar. Perform your own science experiment and see how you feel.
A little self-experimentation goes a long way, especially when done in a safe and healthy way, such as modifying workouts and social activities to different times of the month. And with all experiments, record results and findings in a journal, period tracking app or paper calendar. Perform your own science experiment and see how you feel.
Just remember, every body is different, as is every month. Your menstrual cycle may be 28 days in January but 25 days in February. You may experience some of the symptoms we’ve discussed at different seasons than expected. Some symptoms you may not experience at all. That’s where self-experimentation comes in.
Despite the fast-paced evolution of AI, we aren’t machines. As humans, our bodies are innate organic organisms living and breathing on this planet for a limited time.
Synchronizing your life with your menstrual cycle can help you get the most out of the monthly changes you experience.
Knowing where you stand, as far as hormones and time of the month, lets you take care of yourself from the standpoint of what your body needs to thrive during that time.
This self-awareness can influence decisions made regarding caring for ourselves, and these actions spill over into every area of our life. Cycle Syncing will support you on the journey to living your best life. By syncing your menstrual cycle to your lifestyle, you can live a more balanced and healthy life.
Though cycle syncing is a natural approach to optimizing the changes one experiences during the month, please check with your healthcare provider regarding what’s best for you.
All included information is not intended to treat or diagnose. The views expressed are those of the author and should be attributed solely to the author. For medical questions, please consult your healthcare provider.