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Menopause Int. 2008 Sep;14(3):97-104. doi: 10.1258/mi.2008.008013.

Sleep and the menopause - do postmenopausal women experience worse sleep than premenopausal women?

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Sleep Research Unit, Department of Physiology, University of Turku, Dentalia, Lemminkäisenkatu 2, FIN-20520 Turku, Finland.



To examine the sleep characteristics in three cross-sectional populations: young, premenopausal and postmenopausal women, and the associations between sleep, menopause, mood and cognitive performance.


Twenty-one premenopausal (45-51 years), 29 postmenopausal (59-71 years) and 11 young (20-26 years, using oral contraceptives) women were recruited. Polysomnography was used to measure objective sleep quality. Subjective sleep quality, sleepiness and mood were assessed using questionnaires. Cognitive performance was investigated by means of three attentional tests.


Total sleep time in pre- and postmenopausal women was similar (404.9 and 384.7 minutes), but shorter than in young women (448.2 minutes, P = 0.030 and <0.003, respectively). Sleep efficiency followed the same pattern, being 84.3% in premenopausal (P = 0.027), 80.2% in postmenopausal (P < 0.003) and 93.4% in young women. Pre- and postmenopausal women had less slow wave sleep (duration or activity) and more wake time after sleep onset (duration or frequency). Insomnia complaints were more frequent after the menopause (P = 0.023). Sleepiness and mood scores were similar in all groups. Reaction speeds slowed with increasing age. After the menopause, better cognitive performance was associated with more rapid eye movement sleep.


Objective sleep measures differed significantly between the young and postmenopausal groups. These differences may be more because of the physiology of ageing than the rapid changes across the menopause, since similar sleep characteristics were already present in the premenopausal women. The increase in sleep complaints after menopause was not associated with sleepiness or disturbances in objective sleep quality, mood or cognitive performance.

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