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Symptoms of Sleep Disorders in Midlife Women Related to Hormones

Review on November 05, 2009

Sleep disorders mildlife

The effects of sleep disorders are very common among aging women, particularly those nearing menopause. To determine whether hormones play a part of sleep disorders among women, a study was done on 630 perimenopausal and premenopausal women.

It is a widely known fact that sleep disorders come with age. For women aged 35 to 49 years old, poor sleep quality is associated with "lower follicular-phase plasma estradiol levels." In the Daily Hormone Study portion of the Study of Women's Health across the nation, women were tested to determine if hormones were a cause of sleep disorders during menopause.

For one year, the women involved in the study recorded in their daily "bedtime diary" whether or not they had trouble sleeping the night before. The diary contained 18 questions regarding sleep quality, mood, and physical and vasomotor symptoms. Their morning urine samples were collected to determine levels of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, estradiol metabolites, and progesterone metabolite. The results were matched with the findings of the hormone assays from the morning urine collection from the night prior.

The 434 perimenopausal women (those who reported no menstrual irregularity in the past 12 months) were affected by PdG level. The 196 premenopausal women (those who experienced menstrual irregularity) had specific problems with a FSH level.


Of the 630 women, 467 reported trouble sleeping on at least one night. 121 told of trouble sleeping on at least 40% of nights. On average, the women experienced problems sleeping almost three nights a week, a statistic similar to insomnia and studies on sleep disorders. 15 women had difficulty sleeping on all recorded nights. Sleep stability was influenced by menopausal status, predominantly among women who experienced hot flashes.

Sleep disorders chart

 The results for symptoms of sleep disorders were strongest at the beginning and end of the menstrual cycle. Mid cycle was the best sleep. 29% more of perimenopausal women had difficulty sleeping versus premenopausal women.

*Logistic regression was used with day of cycles as the time variable used to estimate the associations between sleep disorders and hormone levels.

*The criteria for the participants included 1) at least one ovary 2) an intact uterus 3) one menstrual period in the previous months 4) no use of sex steroid hormones in the past three months and lastly, 5) not pregnant.

According to the Daily Hormone Study of the Study of Women's Health across the nation, it has been concluded that certain hormones do in fact cause the effects of sleep disorders amongst premenopausal women.

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  • Andersen ML, Bittencourt LR, Antunes IB, Tufik S. "Effects of progesterone on sleep: a possible pharmacological treatment for sleep-breathing disorders?" Curr Med Chem. 2006;13(29):3575-82.