More and more research confirms that one’s overall health depends on three factors: diet, exercise, and sleep (of course, genetics play a significant role, too). While much attention is paid to diet, exercise, and body weight, many people ignore or dismiss the significant effects which sufficient sleep can have on their mental and physical well-being. Some doctors even now call for sleep to be prescribed in the same way narcotic medications are. The latest study to shine a light on the role of sleep in contributing to physical health comes out of South Korea, where sleep researchers and doctors have discovered a link between poor sleep quality and menopause symptoms.

The study examined the health indicators and self-reported sleep habits of 634 women between ages 44 and 56. After normalizing the data based on age, body mass index, chronic diseases, smoking status, marital status, income, education, employment status, physical activity, depression and stress, the researchers found that out of the 19% of women who reported sleep problems, nearly all of them also reported higher rates of depression, stress, and menopause symptoms

Dr. Hyun-Young Park of the National Research Institute of Health in Chungbuk conducted the study. Park says that while these sleep disorders are bad enough on their own when coupled with menopausal symptoms, they can ultimately lead to more serious health issues if left untreated over time:

Sleep disorders are the most common complaints during (the) menopause transition and postmenopause. Poor sleep quality and inadequate sleep duration are associated with negative health outcomes, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer-related mortality, diabetes, depression and poor quality of life.

Estrogen plays a large role in regulating sleep, so hormone therapy can provide some relief for menopause symptoms and associated sleep disorders. Ultimately, though, the researchers note that these sleep disorders come as a result of many secondary symptoms of menopause: weight gain, night sweats, and hormone disruptions. Mitigating the effects on sleep thus becomes of prime importance for helping women transition through menopause in the healthiest way possible.

Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician from the mountains of Western North Carolina. Contact him at [email protected]

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