The aim of the study was to investigate whether postmenopausal women show differences in circadian-related variables and sleep characteristics compared with premenopausal women, and to analyze potential associations between these circadian-related variables and abdominal fat distribution or metabolic syndrome (MetS) components.
A total of 177 women were studied (127 premenopausal, 50 postmenopausal). Sixty percent of the total population was overweight/obese, with no significant differences between premenopausal (60%) and postmenopausal women (62%) (P = 0.865). Wrist temperature (WT) and rest-activity cycles were measured during 8 consecutive days, and sleep and food diaries collected. MetS characteristics and daily patterns of saliva cortisol were analyzed. Sleep characteristics were assessed with domiciliary polysomnography.
Postmenopausal women showed a less robust rhythm in WT with lower amplitude (°C) (0.8 ± 0.4 vs 0.9 ± 0.5) (P < 0.05) and lower mean temperature values at the midpoint of sleep than premenopausal women. Postmenopausal women were also more morning-type than premenopausal women, showing a phase advance of approximately 1 hour in WT and rest-activity rhythms, and more morning-type habits (earlier sleep onset/offset and breakfast intake) (P < 0.05). Postmenopausal women showed higher levels of activity in the morning and lower in the evening compared with premenopausal women (P < 0.05). Daily variability in cortisol was significantly reduced in postmenopausal women compared with premenopausal women (P < 0.05). Postmenopausal women had increased frequency of sleep-related breathing abnormalities (P < 0.0001). In the women studied, abdominal fat and MetS were associated with an increase in circadian alterations (high fragmentation and low amplitude of the rhythm) (P < 0.05).
Postmenopausal women exhibit loss of circadian robustness and an increase in sleep abnormalities compared with premenopausal women.