Midlife Changes Can Cause Sleep Loss
ThirdAge Women's Health Expert
If you suffer from insomnia every night -- or even most nights -- during the course of a month, then you have chronic insomnia.
Also known as poor sleep, insomnia worsens with age. It affects women more than men, and is noted as one of the most common problems experienced by menopausal women. While most studies have shown no correlation between sleep and the low estrogen levels of perimenopause, new research shows that hormones may in fact contribute to midlife insomnia.
Michelle Battistini, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, studied 436 women with regular menstrual cycles. She found that low estrogen levels, especially in the perimenopausal group, were an important factor in poor sleep.
The report, published in this month's issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, goes on to identify hot flashes, anxiety, depression and caffeine consumption as contributing factors. The authors conclude that "it is possible that hormone therapy may be helpful earlier in the menopausal transition than is currently the practice."
However, if you're already on estrogen and are not having hot flashes or night sweats, it's time to look for other causes of sleeplessness. Depression and anxiety disorders are common causes of chronic insomnia. If you feel depressed, you need to be evaluated by a qualified health care provider. For movement disorders such as restless leg syndrome, there are new medications that may help. Other common causes are shift working, respiratory disorders such as asthma and pain.