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Sleep, women and hormones

We know that hormones can affect a variety of things such as mood and appetite, but it can also affect your sleep too! This is why women are more likely to report issues with sleep.

The two main female hormones are oestrogen and progesterone. A change in these hormones during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause can have effect on your sleeping habits.


  • Progesterone dips just before menstruation and this dip can lead to typical PMS type symptoms including difficulty getting to sleep
  • Women who have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can have irregular periods and thus irregular levels of hormones which can contribute to sleeping difficulties.
  • TIP: try to exercise frequently before you are due your period so that you are tired before bed time. Avoid caffeine and nicotine. If you are not trying for a baby and your symptoms are bad, then speak to your GP about the possibility of birth control pills which can help to regulate your hormones


  • Hormonal levels of both oestrogen and progesterone vary throughout pregnancy. During the first trimester, oestrogen levels are very high which can lead you to feel more drowsy and tired. During the third trimester, poor sleep is usually due to other factors such as frequent urination, restless leg syndrome and difficulty breathing
  • TIP: try sleeping with your head elevated to reduce the effects of pregnancy related reflux and snoring


  • Once again, hormone levels can fluctuate near menopause typically leading to symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats which can impact sleep. Progesterone levels are also lower which can lead to increased irritability
  • Older women are also likely to develop sleep apnoea due to the reduction of hormones during and after the menopause.
  • TIP: if you are experiencing many symptoms of the menopause, speak to your GP about the possibility of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Avoid potential triggers for hot flushes such as spicy foods and wear light clothing to bed. You can also try some mindfulness techniques and breathing exercises


As with all sleep problems, trying to get a good sleeping regime is key and making sure you have good sleep hygiene. Click here to see our tips and recommendations for getting better sleep.

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