Sleep Apnea and Other Sleep Disorders Linked to Menopause, Not Age

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Many women will tell you that the idea that menopause can wreak havoc on their sleep isn’t news to them. Indeed, a study in Sleep published in April 2017 reported that “sleep disturbances become very common during menopause, with an estimated 40 percent to 60 percent of menopausal women reporting poor sleep quality and about 25 percent meeting criteria for an insomnia disorder.”

RELATED: 10 Ways to Beat Menopausal Belly Fat

A New Way to Look at Menopausal Sleep Problems

What is news comes from a study published in the journal Menopause in December 2019 titled “Effects of Menopause on Sleep Quality and Sleep Disorders: Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging.” Many studies have looked at the effect of aging on sleep, but very few have delved deeper into the issue by looking at menopause status and by looking at exactly what kind of sleep problems are associated with menopause. In the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, researchers studied 6,100 Canadian women between ages 45 and 60, dividing participants into two groups: pre/perimenopausal and post-menopausal. They also tried to figure out what sleep disruptions are caused by menopause and what is caused purely by aging.

RELATED: Perimenopause and Menopause: What’s the Difference?

Sleep Issues for Midlife Women Need More Attention

“We under-address sleep issues in midlife women in general. This study brings much-needed attention to multiple issues concerning sleep disturbances. Poor sleep is associated with poor health [cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and anxiety] so it’s not something to just blow off,” says Stephanie Faubion, MD, the medical director of the North American Menopause Society and the director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Women’s Health.

After Menopause, Women Are More Apt to Have Certain Sleep Problems

The research team discovered that post-menopausal women required more time (over 30 minutes) to get to sleep and were more apt to develop sleep-onset insomnia disorder (trouble falling but not staying asleep) and possible obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) than women who had not reached menopause.

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