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Women with severe PMS perceive their sleep quality to be poor

WESTCHESTER, Ill. Women with severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) perceive their sleep quality to be poorer in association with their symptoms in the late luteal (premenstrual) phase, despite there being no specific alterations in sleep structure associated with premenstrual symptoms, according to a study published in the October 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, authored by Fiona C. Baker, PhD, of the Human Sleep Research Program at SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif., and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, focused on nine women with PMS or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and 12 controls. The subjects, all 18-40 years of age, had laboratory-based polysomnographic recordings at two phases of the menstrual cycle: follicular phase and late luteal phase.

According to the results, women with severe PMS reported a significantly poorer subjective sleep quality during the late luteal phase, but there was no evidence of disturbed sleep based on the polysomnogram specific to premenstrual symptom expression. Both groups of women had increased wakefulness after sleep onset and increased sigma power in the late luteal phase compared with the follicular phase.

There were, however, some group differences in electroencephalographic measures regardless of menstrual phase, including decreased delta incidence and increase theta incidence and amplitude in women with PMS, suggesting the possibility of sleep electroencephalogram trait markers in women with PMS.

Women with PMS or PMDD commonly report sleep disturbances, but the few studies using conventional polysomnographic measures have produced conflicting results. In this study, we investigated sleep quality and sleep composition using conventional and quantitative electroencephalographic analyses in women with severe PMS, as compared to that of controls, said Dr. Baker.

Sleep plays a vital role in promoting a womans health and well being. Getting the sleep that you need is likely to enhance your overall quality of life. Yet, women face many potential barriers that can disrupt and disturb their sleep. Overcoming these challenges can help them enjoy the daily benefits of feeling alert and well rested.

Experts suggest that most women need about seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

Compared to men, there are many differences in how women sleep. In general, women tend to sleep more than men, going to bed and falling asleep earlier. A womans sleep also tends to be lighter and more easily disturbed. Women are more likely to feel unrefreshed even after a full night of sleep.

There are many complex factors that may affect how a woman sleeps. Some of these factors change over time. For example, excessive daytime sleepiness is more common when women are in their 20s and 30s. In contrast, older women appear to adapt better to periods of sleep loss. This difference has been attributed to the many commitments that compete for a young womans time. In particular, working moms must balance the demands of their career, family, friends and personal health needs.

Common factors that affect a womans sleep include:

  • Life events

  • Depression

  • Illness

  • Bad sleep habits

  • Medication use

  • Physical or hormonal changes

Millions of women suffer from an ongoing sleep disorder. These problems often remain undiagnosed. Those who think they might have a sleep disorder are urged to discuss their problem with their primary care physician, who will issue a referral to a sleep specialist.


Contact: Jim Arcuri
American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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