Sleep and Women’s Health

Women Need Adequate Sleep

Adequate and fulfilling sleep is a key component to women staying healthy and living a long and happy life. Our bodies typically require a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep per night to function normally. Juggling a home, career and family can often leave women wishing there were extra hours in the day.  Unfortunately, many women take time away from important activities such as sleep to attend to other responsibilities.

Studies show that women who sleep 6 or less hours have reduced reaction time when driving, increased mood swings, and in some cases serious damage to the body due to lack of adequate sleep. Women are also twice as likely to experience insomnia-related symptoms as their male counterparts.


Research has also proven a higher occurrence of obesity in individuals who are sleep deprived by as little as one hour each night than those who sleep adequately. The hormones leptin and ghrelin monitor and control feelings of hunger and satiation and are directly affected by sleep deprivation. A lack of sleep may lead to weight gain in many women.


Research shows a link between increased estrogen levels found during pregnancy and occurrence of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) in women. RLS is described as a strange “creepy-crawly” sensation or an urge to move the legs when at rest and can be very uncomfortable.

Sleep apnea is of major concern during pregnancy due to the large amount of weight gained by many women as part of a healthy pregnancy. The risk for developing preeclampsia increases in women suffering from sleep apnea, as does the risk of developing gestational diabetes. The baby can be affected by the mother’s sleep apnea as low birth weight is common in women diagnosed with untreated sleep apnea. Various forms of PAP (positive airway pressure) therapy can help reduce these serious risks.

Menopause & Beyond

As in the teenage years, menopausal women experience a drastic change in hormonal function and experience more severe snoring which may be symptomatic of sleep apnea. Numerous studies link sleep apnea to increased blood pressure which can lead to stroke and heart disease. It is estimated that 50% of patients with high blood pressure also suffer from sleep apnea. Most menopausal women experience less satisfying and decreased amounts of sleep than their younger counterparts. Hormonal deficiencies, night sweats and a myriad of other menopause-related issues interfere with sleep.