Sleep disturbance in menopause

Joan L.F. Shaver, Shannon N. Zenk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Sleep problems (i.e., insomnia) affect midlife women as they approach and pass through menopause at rates higher than at most other stages of life. The purpose of this article is to critically review what is known about insomnia (perceived poor sleep) and physiologically assessed sleep, as well as sleep-related disordered breathing (SDB), in women according to menopausal status and the role of hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) hormones. Self-report evidence that sleep difficulties are related to the hormonal changes of menopause is mixed. Data from studies in which sleep was physiologically measured reveal that sleep problems appear corequisite with hot flashes and sweats. Results are difficult to compare across studies because of varying methodologies in how sleep quality and patterns were assessed and how age cohorts and menopausal status were defined. The risk of SDB increases with age, although women are less susceptible at any age than men. As with men, snoring, obesity, and high blood pressure are clear risk factors. Some women may be underdiagnosed for SDB, as they have somewhat different symptom manifestations than men. Usually, frank apnea is not as evident. Primary care clinicians should be mindful of the potential for SDB in women who are obese, have high blood pressure, are cognizant of snoring, and report morning headaches and excessive daytime sleepiness. Improved care will result from consistently incorporating sleep insomnia assessments into practice as a basis for referring to sleep centers as necessary or prescribing sleep-enhancing behavioral and pharmacological treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-118
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Women's Health and Gender-Based Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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