Women, Biology and Sleep

Armen Hareyan's picture

The 2007 NSF Sleep in America poll asked respondents about the quality and quantity of sleep. These findings were then analyzed within different biological stages of their lives.

Menstruating women (women of childbearing age) spend an average of 7 hours, 32 minutes in bed on weeknights, with 67% of these women reporting experiencing symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights each week. Of menstruating women:

  • 16% say they have missed work one or more days in the past month due to a sleep problem.

  • 34% say they experience symptoms of a sleep disorder like snoring, sleep apnea and/or RLS.

  • One-third of menstruating women (33%) say that their sleep is disturbed the week of their cycle.


Pregnant women spend the most hours in bed per weeknight (8 hours, 14 minutes on average), however most pregnant women (84%) report symptoms of insomnia a few nights each week, with 40% also reporting signs of a sleep disorder such as snoring, sleep apnea and/or restless leg syndrome (RLS). Interestingly:

  • 30% of pregnant women report that they rarely or never get a good night's sleep.

  • Most pregnant women (82%) report getting significantly better sleep before their pregnancy.

  • One percent of pregnant women report consuming alcohol, beer or wine within an hour of going to bed at least a few nights each week as a sleep aid.

  • 54% of pregnant women report napping at least twice per week.

Post partum women spend less time in bed on weeknights than pregnant women (7 hours, 46 minutes on average), but they report the same frequency of symptoms of insomnia (84%). Of the women in this group, 42% report that they rarely or never get a good night's sleep