Do Hot Flashes Cause Insomnia?

by admin on March 31, 2011 · 0 comments

in Midlife sleep

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It is widely known that insomnia occurs in more than 60% of
midlife women. This is not just a few sleepless nights, but a
regular pattern of waking up during the night – once or many
times – and not being able to get to sleep for longer than 15-
20 minutes. For those affected, this occurs at least 3-4 nights
a week and results in daytime problems of fatigue, irritability,
poor concentration, low energy and poor productivity.
Popular wisdom, as well as many menopausal womens’
nighttime experience, has it that hot flashes (popularly known
as night sweats) are what’s ailing most menopausal women.
The discomfort of being awakened during the night with
your sheets and clothing drenched in sweat is not a popular
one. We know, without any research to tell us, that night
sweats awaken women during menopause and can be quite
uncomfortable, to say the least.
Because of this, many sleep doctors and many women got the
idea that the very common problem of insomnia in menopausal
or peri-menopausal women was caused by these night sweats.
And it would be logical to assume so. But some researchers
looked further into potential causes of the sleep discomfort
of midlife women by studying the nighttime sleep patterns
using polysomnograms (the sleep studies used to diagnose
sleep apnea). As part of these studies, a common denominator
was found that called into question the theory of hot flash
awakenings. These findings showed that a large number of
awakenings (both arousals from sleep and full awakenings)
were common in certain women, but hot flash awakenings
were much less common than the overall number of arousals.
That is to say, while hot flashes could cause you to wake up,
and even to stay awake, there were other causes, probably
resulting from an overall decrease in estrogen, that might be
the cause of both the hot flashes and the many awakenings.
Is this good news or bad news? Well, maybe both. If you’re
taking HRT (hormone replacement therapy), you may be
less likely to be reading this article, thus it is good news.
And knowing the underlying medical cause of any nighttime
problems that messes with our functioning in the daytime is
always good news because it points the way towards a solution.
And how about the bad news, you ask. Many women are
unable to or have chosen not to take HRT for good reasons.
If the decrease in estrogen is actually the cause of disrupted
sleep, as described here, this limits their options for a solution.
What are you doing to help yourself understand and cope with
your menopausal sleep problems? Need some help to navigate
the complex maze of ideas, products, information out there
that purports to help?
You can inform yourself and strengthen your wellness muscles
by contacting the Sleep Diva at www.sleepbetterinmidlife.com
and signing up for my newsletter on midlife sleep. I’m taking
an informal survey…what’s your favorite solution to the night
sweat dilemna. Leave a comment below.

It is widely known that insomnia occurs in more than 60% ofmidlife women. This is not just a few sleepless nights, but aregular pattern of waking up during the night – once or manytimes – and not being able to get to sleep for longer than 15-20 minutes. For those affected, this occurs at least 3-4 nights a week and results in daytime problems of fatigue, irritability,poor concentration, low energy and poor productivity.
Popular wisdom, as well as many menopausal womens’nighttime experience, has it that hot flashes (popularly knownas night sweats) are what’s ailing most menopausal women.The discomfort of being awakened during the night withyour sheets and clothing drenched in sweat is not a popularone. We know, without any research to tell us, that nightsweats awaken women during menopause and can be quiteuncomfortable, to say the least.
Because of this, many sleep doctors and many women got theidea that the very common problem of insomnia in menopausalor peri-menopausal women was caused by these night sweats.And it would be logical to assume so. But some researchers
looked further into potential causes of the sleep discomfortof midlife women by studying the nighttime sleep patternsusing polysomnograms (the sleep studies used to diagnosesleep apnea). As part of these studies, a common denominator was found that called into question the theory of hot flash awakenings. These findings showed that a large number ofawakenings (both arousals from sleep and full awakenings)were common in certain women, but hot flash awakeningswere much less common than the overall number of arousals.
That is to say, while hot flashes could cause you to wake up,and even to stay awake, there were other causes, probablyresulting from an overall decrease in estrogen, that might bethe cause of both the hot flashes and the many awakenings.Is this good news or bad news? Well, maybe both. If you’retaking HRT (hormone replacement therapy), you may beless likely to be reading this article, thus it is good news.And knowing the underlying medical cause of any nighttimeproblems that messes with our functioning in the daytime isalways good news because it points the way towards a solution.
And how about the bad news, you ask. Many women areunable to or have chosen not to take HRT for good reasons.If the decrease in estrogen is actually the cause of disrupted sleep, as described here, this limits their options for a solution.What are you doing to help yourself understand and cope withyour menopausal sleep problems? Need some help to navigatethe complex maze of ideas, products, information out therethat purports to help?
You can inform yourself and strengthen your wellness musclesby contacting the Sleep Diva at www.sleepbetterinmidlife.com and signing up for my newsletter on midlife sleep. I’m taking an informal survey…what’s your favorite solution to the nightsweat dilemna. Leave a comment below.

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