How menopause affects sleep and aging
Getting your beauty rest is now more important than ever.
Two studies from the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) revealed menopause and related insomnia are associated with increased aging and aging-related diseases.
In the menopause study involving over 3,000 women, researchers used a biological clock to study the age of cells from blood and saliva. By comparing the chronological age of a participant to the biological age of the cells, they determined that menopause quickens aging on average by 6 percent.
In a related sleep study with over 2,000 female participants, researchers used the same biological clock and found that insomnia in postmenopausal women increased aging by up to two years.
Women who had an increased biological age reported these common sleep disturbances:
- restless sleep
- waking repeatedly at night
- having difficulty falling asleep
- waking too early in the morning
Since many women experience insomnia and sleep disturbances as a result of menopause, the combination does not bode well.
The sleep study authors say that despite sleep not typically being included as a pillar of health, research has shown that good quality sleep is as important to health as other factors like diet and exercise.
“Menopause can affect sleep for a variety of reasons,” says Dr. Maja Middleton, an obstetrician and gynecologist with Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. “Often, it is because of the other symptoms that women experience, such as hot flashes and depression/anxiety, or it can also worsen underlying sleep issues.”
Dr. Middleton recommends women take sleep hygiene seriously by sticking to a routine sleep schedule and by avoiding electronics before bedtime.
She also says many options exist to treat menopause symptoms including insomnia, and that women should contact their physician for more information if they are concerned.
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