is its connection to sleep disruptions. Indicators of sleep disturbances may encompass feeling excessively fatigued during the day, struggling to fall asleep, and/or experiencing restless or disturbed sleep.
Previous research studies have demonstrated a correlation between PCOS and sleep disturbances. However, these studies were not nationally representative and did not thoroughly examine sleep disruptions or consider potential contributing factors like body mass index (BMI), depression, or demographic elements.
PCOS and Sleep Issues
This prompted us to investigate the link between PCOS and sleep issues in a large-scale, nationwide cohort of Australian women participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH). In our study recently published in Clinical Endocrinology, we analyzed responses from over 6,500 Australian women with and without PCOS. We compared sleep duration and disruptions while taking into account other factors that could influence sleep patterns, such as BMI and depression. This enabled us to determine whether any variations in sleep patterns were attributable to PCOS or were potentially a result of higher BMI and depression levels in women with PCOSboth of which can independently affect sleep quality.
Our findings revealed that women with PCOS were approximately 1.5 times more likely to experience sleep disruptions compared to those without PCOS. Specifically, women with PCOS were more prone to difficulties falling asleep and experiencing significant fatigue throughout the day. This held true even after considering other potential causes of sleep disruptions.
Why might PCOS lead to Sleep Problems?
There are several plausible explanations. Women with PCOS face an increased risk of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a condition characterized by frequent airway blockages during sleep. Additionally, PCOS can lead to weight gain, with a higher prevalence of overweight or obesity. Being overweight or obese is linked to sleep disorders like insomnia and OSA in the general population.
There are other aspects of PCOS that may contribute to sleep disturbances, even in the absence of OSA. Hormonal imbalances in women with PCOS can lead to reduced production of the hormone progesterone, which plays a crucial role in stabilizing sleep. Conditions that are more prevalent in individuals with PCOS, such as diabetes and depression, can exacerbate daytime sleepiness.
Quality sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being. Sleep disruptions can have notable social and health consequences, including heightened stress levels, reduced productivity, and a predisposition to low moods. Insufficient sleep duration has also been associated with elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and weight gain.
If you have PCOS and experience poor sleep, prioritizing good sleep hygiene can be a pivotal starting point. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule and refraining from activities like watching TV or reading in bed can help. Engaging in physical activity, spending time outdoors, and avoiding screens emitting blue light in the evening can also enhance sleep quality. While individual sleep needs may vary, most people require between 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function optimally. Steering clear of caffeine-containing beverages in the late afternoon and evening can also support better sleep.
If implementing these strategies doesn’t improve, consulting a healthcare professional, such as a general practitioner or a specialist in endocrinology, obstetrics, or gynecology, is recommended. They can help identify tailored solutions, including a referral to a sleep specialist for assessment of obstructive sleep apnea or, in cases of severe insomnia, a specialized treatment like cognitive behavioral therapy.
“Small changes in sleep habits can lead to significant improvements in overall well-being.”
- Sleep disturbances in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – (https:www.hormones-australia.org.au/2019/09/13/sleep-disturbances-in-women-with-polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/)