Hormones can trigger sleep problems for women

Research shows rising, falling of female hormones may impact sleep

There are a number of things that keep people up at night -- but for women specifically, hormones could be a key factor behind the tossing and turning.

There are a number of things that keep people up at night, like stress, responsibilities, social media.

But for women, there may be another explanation for all that tossing and turning.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in three Americans don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. Research suggests that for women, hormones may play a bigger role in your sleeping patterns than you realize.

Women know that the symptoms of menopause can disrupt their sleep, but hormones can actually impact a woman’s sleep throughout her lifetime.

Women have about 50 hormones that help start or stop certain body functions. The two major female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, rise and fall at different times, potentially impacting sleep.

For example, right before menstruation, progesterone levels dip dramatically. During pregnancy and menopause, both estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate up and down.

Regular exercise can help ease hormone-related sleeping difficulties, experts say. It can also be beneficial to avoid nicotine and caffeine.

“According to the National Sleep Foundation, about two out of three women in or around menopause are going to have sleep issues,” said Dr. Mache Seibel, an OB/GYN at Harvard.

If you’re going through menopause, soy-rich foods -- which contain a chemical that mimics the effects of estrogen -- can help. These include tofu, miso, soy milk and edamame.

If you are persistently losing sleep, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy. Some studies have found that women who use these therapies report improvements in their sleep.

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome may especially struggle with sleep difficulties, due to irregularities in their hormones. They typically have higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of progesterone. Women with this syndrome also have a greater risk of developing sleep apnea, a condition that causes people to periodically stop breathing during sleep.

The bottom line: If you are struggling with sleep problems, talk to your doctor to determine what role hormones could be playing.

More: Good Health advice

About the Author:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.