PCOS Linked to Greater Sleep Problems


When was the last time you had a great night sleep? Are you too sleep-deprived to remember? Then this article is for you. A report in Nature and Science of Sleep, found that women with PCOS have more trouble sleeping. Feeling tired is only one sign that you aren’t getting enough sleep. The effects of sleep loss run deep; it can affect your long-term health and your fertility.

Sleep disturbances, including insufficient sleep, poor sleep quality, insomnia, and especially obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) , are very common in the PCOS population and are considered independent risk factors for the development of insulin resistance. One study showed that just a 5-day period of sleep deprivation caused abnormal glucose tolerance and worsening insulin levels. Sleep apnea has been shown to affect 35.0% of women with PCOS and is related to high androgen levels.

Ways Sleep Loss Affects Health

Tips For Better Sleep

The following are tips to help you develop good sleep hygeine leading to better sleep overall. Read below to determine which ones you are already doing, and which areas could need some improvement.

Black out

Light affects levels of the hormone melatonin which plays a role in sleep. Remove all unnecessary electronics. Keep the clock light off or dimmed. Get blackout shades for the windows.


Stop using stimulting electronics including TV’s, phones, and tablets at least 1 hour prior to shuteye.

Quiet time

Use ear plugs if your partner snores or other noises are affecting your ability to sleep.

Timing is everything

Go to bed at the same time each night. It may require some effort but setting a firm cut-off time to be in bed can be a key step to a great night sleep. Record your favorite show and shut off your computer and phones by a set time every night.

Adjust the Temperature

The ideal temperature for sleep is between 65-72 degrees Fahrenheit. We all have an internal thermostat that lowers our body temperature while we sleep. A room that is too cold or hot will affect our body’s ability to achieve this set point. Layer accordingly. If you have a programmable thermostat, use it.

Calm down

Don’t just hop in bed and expect to fall asleep. Do some relaxing to clear your mind beforehand. Read a book, watch TV, or take a bath (too hot water will raise your body temperature and make it hard to sleep). It may be helpful to write down your thoughts and to do list ahead of time to get them out of your head.

Supplements can help

Melatonin can promote sleepiness when taken within an hour of bedtime. New research now shows melatonin can also help improve fertility. Magnesium is also a calming mineral that can promote relaxation.

Progesterone may be low

If you struggle to fall asleep, especially the week before your period, you may have low levels of progesterone. Women with PCOS generally do have low progesterone levels which dip even more right before your period starts. Talk to your doctor about supplementing with progesterone.

Time for a new mattress or pillow?

The average mattress lasts up to 10 years. Waking up with back or neck pain? Tossing and turning and can’t get comfortable? Probably time for a new one. Memory foam mattresses, while pricey, are worth the investment. Funds tight? Splurge on a memory foam pillow. Choosing the right pillow can make a huge difference with pain relief and comfort.

Calm your senses

Create a serene environment. Minimize clutter and remove kid toys from your bedroom. Add relaxing accessories like essential oils, candles, pictures and pillows. Don’t keep a desk in your room and avoid doing any stressful work there, if possible.

Don’t forget the protein

Consider having a small protein-rich snack or beverage at night close to bedtime. Protein helps stabilize blood sugar levels during the night which will prevent you from waking up from low blood sugar and hunger pains.

the pcos workbook


Hopefully these tips will help you to develop better sleep hygiene. If you are doing these and still have trouble sleeping, say difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, there may be some underlying reasons. For more help getting you sleep and staying asleep all night long, check out The PCOS Workbook: Your Guide to Complete Physical and Emotional Health which has an entire chapter devoted to sleep and includes a sleep diary.

Feel free to let us know what has helped you get a good night sleep and what difference it’s made for your health.
Happy Z’s….


Sam S, Ehrmann DA.Pathogenesis and Consequences of Disordered Sleep in PCOS. Clin Med Insights Reprod Health. 2019 Sep 3;13: 2019.

Kahal H, Kyrou I, Uthman OA.The prevalence of obstructive sleep apnoea in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Breath. 2019

Sleep disturbances in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: prevalence, pathophysiology, impact and management strategies. Nat Sci Sleep. 2018 Feb 1;10:45-64.

Van Cauter E. Sleep disturbances and insulin resistance. Diabet Med. 2011.

Tasali E, Chapotot F, Leproult R, Whitmore H, Ehrmann DA.Treatment of obstructive sleep apnea improves cardiometabolic function in young obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Feb;96(2):365-74.

Pamidi S, Aronsohn RS, Tasali E. Obstructive sleep apnea: role in the risk and severity of diabetes. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Oct;24(5):703-15.

Spiegel K, Tasali E, Leproult R, Scherberg N, Van Cauter E. Twenty-four-hour profiles of acylated and total ghrelin: relationship with glucose levels and impact of time of day and sleep. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Feb;96(2):486-93.

Aronsohn RS, Whitmore H, Van Cauter E, Tasali E. Impact of untreated obstructive sleep apnea on glucose control in type 2 diabetes. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2010 Mar 1;181(5):507-13.

Tasali E, Leproult R, Spiegel K.Reduced sleep duration or quality: relationships with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Mar-Apr;51(5):381-91.

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