Ladies, you may have heard of the Circadian rhythm, the body's 24-hour biological clock. Today, say a collective hello to your body’s second timekeeper, the Infradian rhythm. As opposed to the Circadian rhythm that runs in 24-hour cycles, your Infradian rhythms can last as long as a week, month, or even a season, depending on the system of the body they influence - the reproductive, endocrine or immune system, metabolism, brain, microbiome, and the stress response system. Understanding the Infradian rhythm, or clock of your menstrual cycle is the gateway to 'bio-hacking' your period.

The Infradian rhythm is especially valuable for women’s health and wellness - more than a diet plan or the latest wellness or fitness regime. Supporting her menstrual Infradian rhythm is what makes a woman look, feel and perform to her fullest potential... There hasn’t been enough medical research in the area because of the complexity that might be associated with women’s monthly cycles, and the natural hormonal ebbs and flows we experience on a regular basis. 

We at Scarlet support  demystifying the menstrual cycle, and encourage medical research in this area! Dealing with your period shouldn't have to be a battle - what if there’s a way to work with your period rather than against it? Here’s everything you need to know about working with your menstrual Infradian rhythm, a technique also known as menstrual cycle syncing.

PART I: Cycle Syncing Basics

What is menstrual cycle syncing, and how can I adopt it?

You can adjust your schedule, diet, and workouts according to the phase of your menstrual cycle, of which, your period is the starting point. We've created a list of hacks for productivity at work, and your fitness routine in the following sections. Apart from tracking which menstrual phase you are in, it’s essential to be aware of your changes in your own body. Notice your body temperature or the consistency of vaginal discharge. Observe changes in mood, sex drive, sleep, or appetite. Even a small change can signal a shift in hormones. As estrogen and progesterone levels shift, they influence mood and energy levels.

What are the benefits of cycle syncing?

Syncing with your menstrual cycle basically allows you to harness the power of shifting hormones. Not only does it help you get the most out of life, but it can also be helpful if you suffer from common menstrual symptoms or menstrual disorders such as endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids, etc. and infertility.

PART II: Cycle syncing to increase productivity and efficiency at work:

Identifying which phase of the menstrual cycle you are in is the key to unlocking productivity.

Menstrual phase

During this phase, your estrogen and progesterone levels are low, and your period is about to start. You probably want to rest and have some downtime to yourself. And don’t deprive yourself of that rest! Getting adequate rest will increase creativity; therefore, focus on work that requires creative thinking. You can also choose to lessen your workload and not burden yourself. You’ll also be more analytical and intuitive during this phase; reflect on your plans, projects, and job.

Follicular phase

Hormonal levels slowly begin to rise after menstruation, improving concentration, mood, and general cognition. Take advantage of this mental alertness and creativity to socialise, plan meetings, and tick off many things from your to-do list. Take advantage of the follicular phase for planning and scheduling meetings, brainstorming new ideas, and solving work dilemmas. This is the time to take action, execute set goals, and reach for your targets.

Ovulatory phase

Your verbal and communication skill are at their best during this phase. Armed with this power, make pertinent conversations that you might have been putting off (ask for a raise, schedule interviews or public speaking), reach out to the big leagues or your co-workers, expand your network, or share and initiate new projects or plans.

Luteal phase

During this phase, you are task-oriented and will have the desire to complete work tasks. It may become difficult to concentrate on long-term tasks so take this opportunity to finish short and less time-consuming tasks. Reflect on your plans, review, and analyse your recent projects. This is also a great time to tackle administrative work.

PART III: Cycle syncing for optimal fitness and workouts:

Take advantage of the changeability of your hormones and oblige your body with strategic workouts!

Menstrual phase

Your energy levels are low during this phase. You may feel tired and fatigued. It's best to avoid high-intensity workouts; not only will these increase menstrual pain and cramps, but they'll leave you feeling drained. Focus on low-impact exercises like pilates, yoga, or even walking.

Follicular phase

Testosterone and estrogen levels begin to rise during this phase, along with energy levels. So go for those challenging workouts or high-intensity exercise. Perhaps pick up a heavier set of weights.

Ovulatory phase

Hormones continue to rise, and so do energy levels. Continue with HIT, spin classes, or join a fitness group or an aerobic class.

Luteal phase

Your progesterone levels begin to rise, and estrogen and progesterone start to fall. It's time to start winding down the intensity of your workouts and go for stimulating exercise such as strength training, pilates, barre, dance or intense yoga.

So there you have it ladies, what bio-hacking your menstrual Infradian rhythm and cycle syncing are all about. While many of us may consider our period an uphill battle, it might just be we've misunderstood our natural menstrual cycle.

Take note that menstrual cycle syncing may not work if you are on  synthetic contraceptives that alter the biological rhythm of the menstrual cycle. One has the option of looking into natural contraceptives that organically improve hormonal levels and maintain the regularity of the menstrual cycle. Nevertheless, this period biohack is a vital tool to acquire absolute physical and mental health. Happy syncing!

REFERENCES

1) Benton MJ, Hutchins AM, Dawes JJ. Effect of menstrual cycle on resting metabolism: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2020 Jul 13;15(7):e0236025. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0236025. PMID: 32658929; PMCID: PMC7357764.

2) Kudielka, B. M., & Kirschbaum, C. (2003). Awakening cortisol responses are influenced by health status and awakening time but not by menstrual cycle phase. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 28(1), 35-47.

3) Baker FC, Driver HS. Circadian rhythms, sleep, and the menstrual cycle. Sleep Med.2007 Sep;8(6):613-22. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2006.09.011. Epub 2007 Mar 26. PMID:

17383933.

4) Webster WW, Smarr B. Using Circadian Rhythm Patterns of Continuous Core Body Temperature to Improve Fertility and Pregnancy Planning. J Circadian Rhythms. 2020 Sep 24;18:5. doi: 10.5334/jcr.200. PMID: 33024445; PMCID: PMC7518073.

5) Liu HY, Bao AM, Zhou JN, Liu RY. [Changes in circadian sleep-wake and rest-activity rhythms during different phases of menstrual cycle]. Sheng Li Xue Bao. 2005 Jun 25;57(3):389-94. Chinese. PMID: 15968438.