Many women use the pill as a contraceptive. However, this contraceptive method may have an effect on how well you sleep at night. The Journal of Sleep Research found that those who use a hormonal contraceptive are far more likely to suffer from insomnia as well as daytime sleepiness.
Dr Kat Lederle, a sleep scientist and the author of Sleep Sense: Improve Your Sleep, Improve Your Health, has conducted extensive research on how our emotions and hormones can affect our sleep and offers solutions to improve sleep.
Dr Lederle admits that finding a connection between sleep and contraception is difficult to determine as—like many other women’s health issues—it is very ‘understudied.’ The other part that makes it difficult to find a connection between the two is that each person reacts differently to contraception, and it also depends on which contraceptive pill you take.
Contraception and sleep
Contraceptive pills contain synthetic progesterone or real progesterone, which is a hormone released in the ovaries. Progesterone naturally raises your body temperature, which can interrupt your sleep. This discomfort is similar to trying to sleep with a fever.
Dr Lederle explains that if you are on the pill, your body temperature will still be higher during the placebo period. She also adds:
This rise in body temperature is small, but for some women it might be very noticeable. This is because the nightly drop in body temperature helps us to fall asleep.
Furthermore, depending on the pill and the person, it can also affect your brain’s communication with the body. When you are on the pill, you have extra hormones in your body, this ‘hit’ of hormones can interrupt the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is what regulates your sleep-wake cycle.
Dr Lederle suggests studying your cycle and lifestyle habits to help determine what elements may be affecting your sleep. It can also help notice when you take your pill. If you think your pill affects your sleep, try and take it in the evening.
If even after studying your lifestyle and your sleep hasn’t improved, you should ask yourself: ‘Why am I taking contraception?’
Dr Lederle suggests:
Consider why you are using the pill – for contraception or for something else?” she says. “If something else, how else could that be treated? If you find your lifestyle is impacting your sleep, see if you can make changes.