January 28, 2010
Here’s an interesting observation by more than a handful of my female patients: Their throats are sore for a few days just before their monthly periods. It doesn’t go on to a cold or other more severe symptoms. Just a transient sore throat. Then it goes away.
If you’ve been following my blogs, articles, and especially if you read my book, Sleep, Interrupted, there’s a simple explanation. During your monthly cycles, progesterone levels increase with ovulation, but drops when there’s no egg fertilization. One relatively unknown property of progesterone is that it’s an upper airway muscle dilator. It literally tenses your tongue muscles. When in deep sleep, your muscles (as well as your tongue and other throat muscles) tend to relax to various degrees depending on your sleep stage. If you have less progesterone on board, then it’s more likely to fall back, obstructing your breathing, leading to a temporary vacuum effect in the throat, suctioning up small amounts of normal stomach juices. All this causes a temporary deep sleep deficiency. If you eat a late meal, more of these juices will come up. But once progesterone levels begin to increase again, the tongue tenses, and sleep quality improves as well.