Sleep in Women Across the Life Span

Chest. 2018 Jul;154(1):196-206. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2018.04.005. Epub 2018 Apr 19.


There are many ways in which women experience sleep differently from men. Women contending with distinct sleep challenges respond differently to sleep disorders, as well as sleep deprivation and deficiency, and face particular health outcomes as a result of poor sleep. Idiosyncrasies, including changes that occur with the biological life cycles of menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, make the understanding of sleep in women an important topic to study. Each phase of a woman's life, from childhood to menopause, increases the risk of sleep disturbance in unique ways that may require distinct management. Indeed, new research is unraveling novel aspects of sleep pathology in women and the fundamental role that sex hormones play in influencing sleep regulation and arousals and possibly outcomes of sleep conditions. Moreover, studies indicate that during times of hormonal change, women are at an increased risk for sleep disturbances such as poor sleep quality and sleep deprivation, as well as sleep disorders such as OSA, restless legs syndrome, and insomnia. This article reviews sleep changes in female subjects from neonatal life to menopause.

Keywords: childhood; menopause; pregnancy; sex differences; sleep; women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longevity / physiology*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology
  • Women's Health*