Hormonal contraceptive use and subjective sleep reports in women: An online survey

J Sleep Res. 2020 Dec;29(6):e12983. doi: 10.1111/jsr.12983. Epub 2020 Jan 27.


Female sexual hormones have known hypnogenic effects and the use of hormonal replacement therapy in postmenopausal women leads to improvement in sleep quality. However, the effects of hormonal contraceptives in women of reproductive age are still scarcely understood. This study sought to evaluate the impact of hormonal contraceptive use on subjective self-reports of sleep through a web-based cross-sectional survey. A total of 2,055 women between 18 and 40 years old participated by answering an online questionnaire evaluating hormonal contraceptive use, sleep-related characteristics and related features. Sleep assessment tools comprised the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) and the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI). Statistical comparisons were performed between hormonal contraceptive users and those who reported no current use. Analyses were repeated to compare users of combined contraceptives with users of progestagens only, as well as to compare users of different generations of contraceptives. Among the total sample, 1,286 participants met the inclusion criteria (918 of them were currently taking a hormonal contraceptive). Contraceptive users reported more frequent sleep complaints and had higher scores on ESS and ISI, which means increased excessive daytime sleepiness and more insomnia symptoms. Women using progestagen-only therapies reported lower total sleep duration compared with combined therapy. Users of third-generation contraceptives showed lower total sleep time and higher ISI score when compared with non-users. In conclusion, contraceptive users have more insomnia symptoms and increased excessive daytime sleepiness when compared with women who do not use any hormonal contraceptive method, and progestagen-only therapy was associated with lower sleep duration.

Keywords: contraceptives; oestrogen; progesterone; sexual hormones; sleep; woman.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / pharmacology
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Sleep / drug effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal