Review on April 06, 2009
Sleep disorders affect many menopausal women and can have a massive impact on a woman's everyday life. Often disturbing day-to-day work and routine, sleep disorders can also exaggerate other menopausal symptoms such as concentration and memory lapses which can be potentially embarrassing.
A study published in the Harvard Women's Health Watch Magazine in February 2008 has shown that disturbed sleeping patterns are often caused by sleep disorders rather than other menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes which may wake a woman up during the night. The research team involved took a sample of 102 women going through menopause, all of whom suspected hot flashes were to blame for their sleep disorders. After medical consultation, each one was assessed to discover the real source of their nocturnal problems: hot flashes or sleep disorders?
The results indicated that around 53% of the women studied were suffering from identifiable sleep disorders rather than as an effect of hot flashes. These ranged from the effects of illnesses such as diabetes, to other sleep disorders such as irritable leg syndrome and sleep apnea. The other 57% of women found that hot flashes were a major factor in there sleep problems.
These results suggest that hot flashes are not wholly responsible for a bad night's sleep for menopausal women. However, the researchers are keen to stress that this research was only conducted on a small group of women and may not be representative of all menopause sufferers, some women may find that sleep disorders are caused by a range of different factors.
Another recent study conducted in Washington DC during 2007 found that menopause itself is not wholly responsible for many women's sleep disorders and that they are often caused by normal aging processes. It agreed with the Harvard study, in that research found many sleep disorders were heavily affected by other medical conditions which a woman may be suffering from, as well as factors such as stress and lifestyle.
Lynne Lamberg, the key researcher in this study, also notes that 'Sleep disorders may exacerbate medical illnesses or complicate their treatment.' These studies underline the importance of medical tests to establish the cause of sleeping disorders, as common menopause symptoms may simply be masking the potentially serious causes of a bad nights sleep.
- 'Hot Flashes Not Always to Blame for Sleep Disorders in Menopausal Women' Harvard Women's Health Watch Copyright©2008
- 'Menopause Not Always to Blame for Sleep Disorders in Midlife Women' Lynne Lamberg JAMA. 2007;297:1865-1866.