This study aims to evaluate subjective sleep quality in premenopausal and postmenopausal women and to study its association with night sweats, hot flashes, and depressive symptoms.
A total of 158 healthy women were recruited; 107 were premenopausal (44-48 y) and 51 were postmenopausal (53-58 y). Sleep quality was evaluated with the Basic Nordic Sleep Questionnaire, night sweats and hot flashes were evaluated with a specific symptom questionnaire, and depressive symptoms were evaluated with the Beck Depression Inventory.
Postmenopausal women had poorer general sleep quality (P < 0.001), slept more restlessly (P = 0.020), and had more nocturnal awakenings (P = 0.015). However, the frequency of difficulty falling asleep, snoring, witnessed apnea, or use of sleep medication was similar between the groups. Furthermore, sleep latency, morning tiredness, or daytime tiredness did not differ between the groups. Postmenopausal women did not report more unintentional falling asleep at work or during leisure time; however, when not active, they dozed off more easily than premenopausal women (P < 0.001). Postmenopausal women had more night sweats (P < 0.001), hot flashes (P < 0.001), and depressive symptoms (P < 0.001). Even a low frequency of night sweats disturbed sleep in postmenopausal women, whereas only frequent night sweats were disturbing in premenopausal women. Depressive symptoms disturbed sleep regardless of menopause status.
Maintenance insomnia, most evidently because of night sweats and hot flashes, seems to be the major type of insomnia in postmenopausal women and has to be considered when choosing insomnia treatment for this group. Initiation of sleep and daytime vitality are not, in general, affected by menopause.