Sleep and Sleep Apnea in Women


Everyone sleeps, but women face unique sleep considerations. As a woman, you may be more at risk for certain sleep problems or have different symptoms of sleep disorders than men. At different times in your life, you may have different sleep issues.

MENSTRUAL CYCLE: Women may have sleep problems right before or during menstruation. Restless legs syndrome is more common during that time, or women may have difficulty sleeping due to pain.

PREGNANCY: Many women experience changes in their sleep patterns while pregnant. In the first trimester, you may find that you need to sleep more. Tiredness can also be a sign of low iron due to pregnancy. In the third trimester, you may have trouble falling or staying asleep due to discomfort from the growing baby. Pregnant women are also more at risk for sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.

MENOPAUSE: During and after menopause many women experience difficulties sleeping. Changes in your hormones can make it harder for you to sleep through the night. These hormonal changes also increase your risk for obstructive sleep apnea.


OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA: Obstructive sleep Apnea, or OSA is a common sleep disorder. If you have OSA, it means that your airway collapses part or all of the way while you are sleeping. There is growing awareness that OSA affects women. You may be at an increased risk for OSA if you are overweight or have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Contact our sleep clinic for a sleep apnea test if you feel this may be a concern. Note that a referral from a medical doctor is required prior to completing the sleep test.

How can I sleep better if I’m pregnant or a new mother?

→ Try to get at least 8 hours in bed each night

→ Allow yourself a 45 minute to 1-hour nap during the day if needed. Try to nap when your baby is napping.

"The worst thing in the world is to try to sleep and not to.”

— F. Scott Fitzgerald

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