Tired young woman holding cup of coffee while wondering if women need more sleep

Do women need more sleep?

Medically reviewed on April 24, 2023 by Jordan Stachel, MS, RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Table of contents

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that the average adult sleep at least seven hours per night. In fact, the CDC recommends a wide range of sleeping times based on age but makes no suggestions related to gender. [1]

It is believed, however, that women persistently experience higher levels of exhaustion than men do. [2] They’re also more susceptible to developing sleep-related disorders, such as insomnia, when compared to their male counterparts. [3]

So, with fatigue and slumberless nights disproportionately affecting females, one may wonder: Do women need more sleep than men?

Generally speaking, they may. In this guide, we’ll discuss the hormonal and biological factors that can affect women’s sleep patterns and how these factors cause them to need more rest.

Women get more sleep than men, but it’s of lower quality

Women report getting more sleep than men on an average night. [4] This may seem paradoxical given how, as mentioned, women also feel fatigued more frequently. [2] Women, however, generally experience a lower quality of sleep than men. This is due to several reasons, including:

  • Familial duties – Women, especially during a child’s infancy and early years, are more often expected to perform nurturing duties than men. Fulfilling these duties often comes at the expense of sleeping, such as waking during midnight feedings and diaper changes. [4]
  • Hormonal shifts and life stages – Women’s reproductive hormones fluctuate in cycles on a monthly basis and more drastically at different stages in their lives. These changes in hormone levels can lead to disturbances in sleep patterns, especially during key stages of life, such as menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. [3]

It’s during these stages of women’s lives, in fact, that they may feel that they need more sleep to adapt to the changes of their bodies. Unfortunately, these times may also be when a restful night of sleep comes to them the hardest.

Menstruation can disturb the sleep cycle

In the week or so leading up to a woman's period, she may start experiencing significant hormonal shifts that initiate the menstruation process. These changes can lead to disruptions in mood, energy levels, and sleep patterns.

So, if you’re wondering, “Why am I so tired on my period?,” most women experience some degree of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). For 3-8% of women, however, PMS symptoms can include significant sleep-related issues, including [3]:

  • Insomnia
  • Non-restorative sleep
  • Disturbing dreams and nightmares
  • Overall poor sleep quality

These nighttime nuisances can lead to tossing and turning instead of resting, and can cause undesirable daytime issues like [3]:

  • Sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased alertness
  • An inability to concentrate

These PMS symptoms can persist and even intensify into menstruation. During the time around a woman’s period, women may also be susceptible to other factors that can affect their ability to get restful sleep, such as [3]:

  • Severe cramps
  • Shifting moods
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Dysphoria

All of these factors can lead to an inability to sleep, fatigue, and a depressive mental state, which can, in turn, cause someone to feel like they need to sleep even more. [5] And menstruation isn’t the only time when these types of sleep disturbances can affect women.

Womens Health support

Women need more sleep during pregnancy

Several studies evaluating the function of quality of sleep during pregnancy came to the conclusion that women need to sleep longer when pregnant than when not. Unfortunately, 78% of women also report experiencing the worst sleep quality of their entire lives during pregnancy. [6]

Sufficient sleep is imperative to a baby’s proper development and to the health of the mother, yet pregnant women frequently report a sleep disorder or issue, including [6]:

  • Insomnia
  • Snoring
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Sleep apnea

Sadly, these issues can contribute to the ill health of babies and mothers alike. Lack of good sleep during pregnancy may be linked to [6]:

  • Low birth weight of infants
  • Early delivery
  • Preeclampsia, a serious blood pressure condition that some women develop during pregnancy

Due to these potential health risks, healthcare providers recommend pregnant women try to get enough sleep to feel adequately rested. This directive is especially important during the last month of pregnancy when getting less than six hours of sleep per night significantly increases the chance of needing a Caesarian section. [6] If women don’t get enough sleep, they may experience heightened stress during pregnancy as well.

Unfortunately for many women, pregnancy likely won’t be the last time in their lives that they experience sleep disturbance.

Menopause can disrupt sleep cycles

Women report an increased propensity to develop sleeping disorders after the onset of menopause. [7] Aside from typical sleep-related symptoms such as insomnia and restlessness, menopause can also cause some unique issues for women trying to get some shuteye, including [7]:

  • Hot flashes
  • Excessive night sweats
  • Elevated heartbeats
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Headaches

All of these symptoms can lead women to experience inadequate sleep and fatigue more acutely than men.

So, in the end, do women need more sleep than males? At some stages in life, such as during pregnancy, they definitely do. And, based on their increased likelihood to develop sleeping disorders and/or issues, many women do need more sleep in general, regardless of their life stage.

Sleep better with Everlywell

If you’re struggling with sleep-related issues such as fatigue or insomnia, you can receive assistance without having to go to a healthcare facility. Whether your sleeping problems are related to menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, or other causes, Everlywell’s access to virtual care for women can help.

Everlywell connects you with registered telehealth providers that can deliver sleep-related solutions right to your bedroom. To begin, simply call and speak with a provider at your convenience. They’ll recommend medication or lifestyle changes that are right for your situation—or refer you for further testing and treatment.

You may also want to consider taking the at-home Women's Health Test to measure 11 key biomarkers known to play an important role in women’s overall health.

Poor sleep quality is a tiring reality that affects far too many women, but it doesn’t have to. From prescriptions and exercise plans, to specialty consultations, we offer a wide range of healthcare options that can help you get proper rest. Schedule a virtual care appointment to get started on the road to better well-being.

Understanding low energy levels in females

Why am I so tired on my period?

What This Women’s Hormone Test Can Reveal About Your Health


  1. CDC. CDC - How Much Sleep Do I Need? - Sleep and Sleep Disorders. CDC. Published 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html
  2. Engberg I, Segerstedt J, Waller G, Wennberg P, Eliasson M. Fatigue in the general population- associations to age, sex, socioeconomic status, physical activity, sitting time and self-rated health: the northern Sweden MONICA study 2014. BMC Public Health. 2017;17(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4623-y
  3. Nowakowski S, Meers J, Heimbach E. Sleep and Women’s Health. Sleep Medicine Research. 2013;4(1):1-22. doi:https://doi.org/10.17241/smr.2013.4.1.1
  4. Burgard SA, Ailshire JA. Gender and Time for Sleep among U.S. Adults. American Sociological Review. 2013;78(1):51-69. doi:https://doi.org/10.1177/0003122412472048
  5. Cleveland Clinic. What You Should Know About the Relationship Between Oversleeping and Depression. Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. Published June 25, 2020. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-you-should-know-about-the-relationship-between-oversleeping-and-depression/
  6. Won CHJ. Sleeping for Two: The Great Paradox of Sleep in Pregnancy. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Published online June 15, 2015. doi:https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.4760
  7. Baker FC, Lampio L, Saaresranta T, Polo-Kantola P. Sleep and Sleep Disorders in the Menopausal Transition. Sleep Medicine Clinics. 2018;13(3):443-456. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsmc.2018.04.011
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