Poor Sleep Quality at Menopause Impacts Cardiovascular Health: Get Help

The easiest way to assess sleep is to measure how many hours of sleep were achieved but that may not be the only measure that matters. Menopause can be particularly disruptive for sleep for many women.

In the American Heart Association's Life’s Essential 8 (LE8) the only measure of sleep duration. Whether other measures of sleep quality predict cardiovascular health (CVH) or illness has been studied recently.

STUDY

Participants were 291 women (n=98 pre-, n=94 peri-, n=99 post-menopausal, mean age=50 yr).

Standardized questionnaires of sleep quality were administered to the subjects.

STUDY RESULTS

Half of the women slept <7 hours/night, 79% reported poor sleep quality, one-third had high-risk sleep apnea (OSA) phenotype, and 51% reported insomnia.

Compared to pre-menopausal women (67%), significantly more post- (83%) and peri-menopausal (86%) women reported poor sleep quality. Women with poor sleep quality had 3-fold higher odds of poor overall CVH score.

Women with high-risk OSA phenotype had ~3-fold higher risk of poor overall CVH scores.

Poor sleep quality was associated with greater odds of low score on the diet component.

High-risk OSA phenotype was associated with greater odds of poor scores on the blood pressure, blood glucose, and BMI components.

CONCLUSIONS

Multiple aspects of sleep other than duration were associated with overall CVH score among women across menopause. Women approaching, in the middle of, or through menopause, should be very aware of their sleep quality.

Prior studies show roughly half of women going through menopause report trouble sleeping, particularly difficulty staying asleep or waking up too early. The risk for sleep apnea, which may be related to hormonal changes and weight gain, also increases during this period of a woman's life. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type, occurs when blocked airways cause breathing to stop and start, preventing the body from getting enough oxygen to feel rested.

The first step is to see a health care professional or sleep specialist to identify the problem, and usually, a home sleep study should be performed. Home sleep studies are now widely available and accurate.

Many sleep problems can be prevented or improved by adopting good sleep practices, such as allowing yourself sufficient wind-down time at night, creating a dark, sleep-friendly environment, reducing stress, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, increasing light exposure and exercise, during the day and setting a regular bedtime and wake time. For more severe problems such as insomnia, cognitive behavioral therapy or, if necessary, medication can help.

 

 

Author
Dr. Joel Kahn

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