Hot flashes and night sweats may not be the only issues women deal with when approaching menopause. Getting a good night’s sleep may be even more of a problem for many maturing women, according to recent reports.
One study at the University of Arizona College of Nursing reported in April 2008 that sleeplessness was a constant issue for 95% of 110 perimenopausal participants during the full first year after their periods had stopped. Night sweats and hot flashes were also commonly reported but were more frequent issues later—at least 3 to 12 months beyond a woman’s last period.
Sleeplessness was also ranked as a slightly more annoying problem by the women compared to night sweats, hot flashes, irritability and other menopausal symptoms.
“This contradicts earlier research which sought to link sleep difficulties with night sweats and problems like hot flashes,” states lead researcher Dr. Judith Berg. “Although the severity of these problems changed as the women progressed through the early stages of menopause, the sleep difficulties the women reported remained fairly constant.”
A much larger sleep-related study with more than 3,000 perimenopausal women published in July 2008 echoes these findings. Approximately 40% of the women in the study reported having sleep problems, most often staying asleep during the night rather than falling asleep or waking up too early.
This study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois included several ethnic groups and found that Caucasian women were most likely to report problems with staying asleep at night during early menopause. Chinese women had the most problems with early morning awakenings while Hispanic women had fewest sleep issues overall.
“The implications of the findings from this study are that sleep problems, especially problems staying asleep, are relatively common in women as they progress through the menopausal transition,” according to primary investigator Dr. Howard M. Kravitz.
Hormone replacement therapy seemed to help the menopausal women in the study who were on HRT with their sleep problems, but further investigation is needed in this area.