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Association between personality traits and DSM-IV diagnosis of insomnia in peri- and postmenopausal women

Sassoon, Stephanie A. PhD1; de Zambotti, Massimiliano PhD1; Colrain, Ian M. PhD1,2; Baker, Fiona C. PhD1,3

doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000192
Original Articles

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the role of personality factors in the development of DSM-IV insomnia coincident with perimenopause.

Methods: Perimenopausal women (35 women with DSM-IV insomnia and 28 women with self-reported normal sleep) underwent clinical assessments and completed menopause-related questionnaires, the NEO Five Factor Inventory and the Structured Interview for DSM-IV Personality. Logistic regressions determined whether personality factors and hot flash–related interference were associated with an insomnia diagnosis concurrent with the menopausal transition.

Results: Women with insomnia reported higher neuroticism, lower agreeableness, and lower conscientiousness than controls on the NEO Five Factor Inventory. Moreover, women with insomnia were more likely to meet DSM-IV criteria for cluster C personality disorders, particularly obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, on the Structured Interview for DSM-IV Personality. Women with insomnia were more likely to have had a past depressive episode and a history of severe premenstrual symptoms. Findings from regressions revealed that higher neuroticism and greater interference from hot flashes were associated with insomnia classification even after controlling for history of depression, suggesting that sensitivity to hot flashes and a greater degree of neuroticism are independent contributors toward establishing which women are most likely to have sleep problems during perimenopause.

Conclusions: Findings show the relevance of personality factors, particularly neuroticism and obsessive-compulsive personality, to a woman’s experience of insomnia as she goes through the menopausal transition.

From the 1Center for Health Sciences, Biosciences Division, SRI International, Menlo Park, CA; 2Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia; and 3Brain Function Research Group, School of Physiology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Received September 25, 2013; revised and accepted November 19, 2013.

Funding/support: This study was supported by National Institutes of Health grant HL 103688 to F.C.B.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: I.M.C. has served as consultant to Breathe Technologies and has received grant support from Apnicure Inc. S.A.S., M.d.Z., and F.C.B. report no conflicts of interest.

Address correspondence to: Stephanie A. Sassoon, PhD, SRI International, 333 Ravenswood Avenue, BN-165, Menlo Park, CA 94025. E-mail:

© 2014 by The North American Menopause Society.