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Sleep Problems

Reports of insomnia rise as women make the transition through midlife.

Nearly half of midlife women in the United States—46% of those ages 40 to 54, and 48% of those ages 55 to 64—report sleep problems, according to a 2007 survey by the National Sleep Foundation.12 This survey found that, compared with premenopausal women, peri- and postmenopausal women sleep less, have more frequent insomnia symptoms, and are more than twice as likely to use prescription sleep aids.

Reports of insomnia rise as women make the transition through midlife, yet no formal studies of sleep patterns conducted in sleep labs have shown that perimenopause or postmenopause is specifically associated with sleep disruption. Women’s perceptions of a decline in their quality of sleep during midlife may be due to the following factors:

  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • General aging effects (such as an increased need to urinate in the middle of the night)
  • The onset of sleep-related disorders (such as sleep apnea) or other illness-related 
    disorders (such as depression or a chronic pain condition)
  • Stress
  • Negative mood
  • Changes in hormones produced by the ovaries (estrogen, progesterone, androgens).

Many reports state that sleep disturbances occur mainly in women who are bothered by nighttime hot flashes, although a firm cause-and-effect relationship between hot flashes and sleep disturbances has not been established.

Women’s actual or perceived decline in sleep quality as they move through the menopause transition tends to leave them feeling tired, which can put a serious damper on libido and basic motivation for sex.

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