Why do women need a good night’s sleep
Dr. Renuka Dangare

Dr. Renuka Dangare

Mar 06General wellness

Why do women need a good night’s sleep

This article has been compiled by Debayani Bose, a content writer for Proactive For Her.

We all may have experienced this during our lifetime. We stay up all night, maybe watching a movie or simply preparing for our exams. The next morning we feel groggy and unproductive. That’s because our body is sleep deprived.

How does sleep change throughout a woman's life

Did you know that an average adult woman sleeps 8 hours and 27 minutes per night? Research findings tell us that women often sleep 11 minutes more than men despite having less time to sleep and having more caregiving responsibilities than men. Let’s explore the sleeping patterns across different life stages in a woman’s life.

Sleep during puberty: Our sleep schedules change considerably across different age groups. There is considerable research evidence which suggests that between the age of 1 and 4 years usually take daytime naps to get their sleep requirements. By the age of 5 years, daytime napping stops and the overall sleep duration declines.

Changes in sleeping patterns during the first menstrual cycle: When girls hit menarche, they experience the differences in their sleeping patterns as their ovarian function increases and female hormones are released into the bloodstream. This starts regulating the sleep-wake cycle.

Sleeping patterns during pregnancy: Pregnancy is usually associated with physiological changes in the body that affect our sleeping patterns. These changes lead to metabolic changes in the body. We also observe hormonal changes during pregnancy that affect sleep physiology and sleep architecture.Secretion of steroid hormones increases during pregnancy and that further influences sleep architecture affecting both circadian rhythm and sleep regulation.

Sleeping patterns during perimenopausal stages: It is common knowledge that we as women sleep more than we get older. Sleep disturbance is one of the core symptoms of menopause. Recent studies suggest sleep quality in the perimenopausal period. Hormonal changes, age-induced changes and increase in co-morbid conditions also affect sleep quality in older women.

Changes in a woman’s body when she gets less sleep

The short term effects of sleep deprivation in women are lack of concentration, experiencing a brain fog, difficulty performing complex mental tasks such as operating machinery and driving. In the long run, sleep deprivation can definitely have some lasting effects on your body .

For women, some interesting points to know are :

  1. Sleep affects your menstrual cycle : Lack of sleep or irregular sleeping hours can have an effect on your menstruation and ovulation by affecting estrogen and progesterone secretion. Melatonin, the sleep hormone also controls these processes.Irregular sleep also disrupts melatonin secretion.
  2. Sleep affects your sex drive : Studies report that women who are sleep deprived experience a lower sex drive and lesser interest in sex. The lack of energy and fatigue resulting from sleep deprivation are largely to blame.
  3. Sleep deprivation can damage your skin : You may be one of those people that’s battling puffy eyes and dark circles after a few nights of lost sleep. But it turns out that a longer period of sleep deprivation can also lead to fine lines on the skin and loss of a glowing complexion. When you don’t get enough sleep or you’re experiencing stress, your body releases excess cortisol. Cortisol can break down the collagen protein, thus reducing the tone and elasticity of the skin. Sleep loss also causes the body to release fewer amounts of human growth hormone(GH) . In adulthood, GH helps increase muscle mass, thicken skin, and strengthen bones.
  4. Sleep protects against heart disease : Prolonged sleep deprivation can also contribute to an increased heart rate, a higher blood pressure and increase in circulating inflammatory substances in our bodies. The cumulative effect of all these on our heart is dangerous.
  5. Sleep affects fertility : Research has shown that women who experience sleep deprivation are 15% less likely to get pregnant as compared to women who can clock in the 7 to 9 hours of required sleep. Lack of sleep is very likely to throw off the balance in all your reproductive hormones making it very difficult to conceive naturally. When it comes to sleep and fertility, there has to be a balance, not too little and not too much. Getting the right amount (7-9 hours ) is key !
  6. When you snooze, you lose (your weight) : The good news is, that if you get enough sleep it helps in weight loss. So for all the women, looking to shed off the pounds, get your sleep cycles right. The science behind sleep and weight loss is closely linked to the peptides that affect our appetite and satiety in the body - ghrelin and leptin. Leptin tells your brain that you are satiated and full whereas ghrelin tells your brain that you’re hungry. Lack of sleep can raise ghrelin levels and reduce leptin thereby promoting overeating and weight gain.

There are longer term risks associated with prolonged sleep deprivation such as a greater risk for heart disease, Type-2 diabetes and depression. A woman’s health and emotional well-being can often suffer if she has too many sleepless nights.

What are the reasons that women get less sleep?

It’s a known fact that women suffer from stress, anxiety and depression more than men owing to household pressures, childcare stress and gender pay gap. This often leads to getting less sleep than what we require. Fluctuations in hormone during pregnancy or menopause may also lead to changes in hormone levels in the body leading to fluctuations in sleep patterns.

Repeated awakenings to pass urine such as in diabetes or urinary incontinence or poor oxygenation during sleep such as in sleep apnea may also be causes of poor sleep.

Ways to sleep better

It’s always advisable to create a routine that allows you to have the amount of sleep needed. The following tips will help you get a good night’s sleep.

Tip 1 : Follow your Circadian Rhythms: Go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day. Regularity helps to improve the quality and quantity of sleep.

Tip 2 : Keep the bedroom environment cool: Always keep your bedroom environment conducive to sleeping. A cool environment helps to start sleep and stay asleep.

Tip 3 : Ensure you have dinner 2-3 hours before sleep: A high-carb meal before going to bed can disturb a restful sleep. The best time to have dinner is at least 2-3 hours before going to bed. It helps to get quality sleep, efficient use of calories and aids in digestion.

Tip 4 : Improve sleep with this 60 mins bed-time routine: Setting a fixed power-down’ hour can help you get a good night’s sleep. Set an alarm 1 hour before you plan to go to sleep. Spend the first 20 minutes wrapping up for the day. The next 20 minutes can be spent on sleep hygiene (taking a hot shower, brushing the teeth, getting into nightclothes). The rest of the 20 minutes follow a soothing ritual (meditation) that can help you sleep.

Tip 5 : Get restful sleep by cutting down on daytime naps: Avoid napping in the late afternoon as it can interfere with night-time sleep.

Tip 6 : Reduce blue light exposure during evening: Exposure to light during night time can trick your brain into believing that it’s still daytime. This reduces the production of Melatonin which can disturb your sleep.

Tip 7 : Say no to caffeine after 3 pm: Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and may hinder you from relaxing during the night. If you still crave for a cup of coffee during late afternoon or evening, stick to the decaffeinated version.

Tip 8 : Minimize your alcohol intake : Consuming alcohol at night can negatively affect your sleep quality and hormones.

Tip 9 : Do not exercise before going to bed: It is good to exercise daily. But exercising late in the day may lead to sleep problems. Try to get a good work out in 6-7 hours before you sleep.

Tip 10 : work on your mental health : Lack of sleep and depression feed on each other. So the presence of one may be a signal that the other is affected too. Work on your mental health to minimize any sleep disturbances and reduce stress.

A good night's sleep boosts our immune system and releases proteins called cytokines which helps promote sleep. The more in sync we are with our circadian rhythm the higher will be our efficiency. Consistent disruption of circadian Rhythm can lead to long-term health issues.


This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare practitioners before undertaking any changes in your diet or adding supplements.

Proactive is a digital clinic for women, offering accessible, personalized, and confidential health-care solutions. We offer products and services for out-patient health concerns of Indian women, across their lifetime - from puberty to pregnancy to menopause. To know more on the sexual and reproductive health of women, visit https://www.proactiveforher.com/