How Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Affects Sleep

woman sleeping
woman sleeping
Researchers observed that sleep disturbances may be more prevalent in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are more likely to experience sleep disturbances, according to study results published in Clinical Endocrinology.

To assess the prevalence of sleep disturbances in a community-based cohort, researchers recruited 484 women with PCOS and 6094 women without PCOS to self-report sleep duration and disturbances.

Using multivariate regression and adjusting for body mass index (BMI), depressive symptoms, and demographic and comorbid factors, the researchers stratified the women into three latent classes of sleep pattern: normal sleep duration (mean, 7.6 hours/workday) with no sleep disturbances; normal sleep duration with sleep symptoms such as occasional/frequent severe tiredness, difficulty falling asleep, and restless sleep; and short sleep duration (mean, 5.7 hours/workday) with occasional/frequent sleep symptoms.

Overall, women with PCOS were slightly younger (P =.007) and had significantly higher BMI (P <.001), weight (P <.001), waist circumference (P <.001), and rates of depressive symptoms (P =.01).

Although total sleep duration was similar between groups, there were significant differences regarding sleep disturbances. Women with PCOS were more likely to report difficulty falling asleep often (relative risk ratio (RRR), 1.67; P =.003) and sometimes (RRR, 1.35; P =.015), restless sleep occasionally (RRR, 1.35; P =.049), and severe tiredness often (RRR, 1.48; P =.016). They also reported more sleep difficulties during the previous year (odds ratio, 1.29; P =.018).

Furthermore, compared with the latent class of normal sleep duration with no sleep disturbance, PCOS symptoms were significantly associated with increased relative risk for average sleep duration with sleep symptoms (RRR, 1.40; P =.004) and short sleep duration with sleep symptoms (RRR, 1.46; P =.016).

The researchers noted several study limitations, including possible underrepresentation of PCOS presence because the diagnosis was self-reported.

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“Given the considerable population of women with [PCOS] and the recognized health consequences of sleep disturbances,” the researchers said, “screening for sleep disturbances and providing appropriate treatment has the potential to improve overall [wellbeing and] physical and psychological health in women with [PCOS].”

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Mo L, Mansfield DR, Joham A, et al. Sleep disturbances in women with and without polycystic ovary syndrome in an Australian national cohort [published online December 26, 2018]. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). doi:10.1111/cen.13922