Sleep Study Part 7: Sleep in Menopausal Women

menopause sign

Being bombarded with hot flashes and night sweats — so called vasomotor symptoms in medical speak — makes it a challenge for women in menopause (or perimenopause for that matter) to get a good night’s sleep. Fortunately, a new study published in Menopause,  the journal of the North American Menopause Society, finds that menopausal women may get better shut eye if they up their physical activity.

Sleep in Menopausal Women Study Details

Exercise has often been believed to help improve sleep in general, if not done right before bedtime. The problem for many women in today’s busy society is that they have a difficult time carving out time to get to the gym — or even use that treadmill disguised as a expensive clothing rack.

However, as a significant finding of the study, Maya J. Lambiase, PhD and Rebecca C. Thurston, PhD,  researchers of the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, found that increased routine physical activity, such as caregiving and household chores, were associated with fewer nighttime awakenings and better sleep overall. The chores were defined as requiring light, moderate, or vigorous effort.

In conducting the study, the researchers evaluated 25 and 27 African American and white Americans, respectively, who ranged 54 to 63 years of age. The women wore sleep monitors, kept a sleep diary, and answered questionnaires concerning their level of physical activity, be it exercise, sports, care giving, or household chores. The researchers found that the most positive correlation between better sleep and increased physical activity were in white women who were not obese.

“Considering the potential impact of physical activity on sleep, even at the relatively modest levels characteristic of household physical activity, may be important for women with vasomotor symptoms, a subgroup at high risk for sleep problems,” say the study’s authors.

menopausal woman

Menopause

Did you know? The average age for women to experience menopause is 51, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, but some women experience it as young as 40 and as late as 55.

Hot flashes and night sweats are very common symptoms of menopause, and consist of a sensation of heat, followed by perspiration and sometimes chills and shivering. These episodes typically last roughly between 30 seconds and two minutes. However, they can be quite disruptive, and wake some women up from a sound sleep.

The study was released online ahead of print, but will be published in the September 2013 print edition of the journal Menopause.

Sleeping Tips During Menopause

The good news is there are some practical tips you can implement to improve your sleep during menopause. These include:

That said, if these practical tips don’t help enough to provide you with the restful night sleep that your body needs, it is worthwhile to visit your doctor or a sleep specialist.

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