What is the role of hormones in the etiology of sleep dysfunction in women?

Updated: Jan 31, 2019
  • Author: Gila Hertz, PhD, ABSM; Chief Editor: Selim R Benbadis, MD  more...
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Answer

In general, sex steroids play a role in the etiology of sleep disorders in women, either by having a direct effect on sleep processes or through their effect on mood and emotional state. Sex steroids influence electroencephalographic sleep during the luteal phase by increasing the electroencephalographic frequency and core body temperature. [14, 15] Lack of estrogen later in life contributes to vasomotor symptoms, including hot flashes that cause sleep disturbances and insomnia. [16] Decreased estrogen also plays a role in the etiology of sleep apnea. [17]

Because estrogen and progesterone influence sleep, and possibly daytime sleepiness, sleep disturbances are more common during the premenstrual period and later in life, during postmenopausal years, when hormonal changes are pronounced. In addition, decreased level of estrogen during menopause has been associated with increased upper airway resistance, snoring, and OSA. [18]


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