Menopause

Perimenopause and Sleep: The Latest from the Endocrine Society

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This post, sent to me by the Endocrine Society, focuses on sleep. The images are from their Menopause Map. Check out the map after your read the article! Click here to access their excellent guide to menopause.


Hormone Fluctuations Disrupt Sleep of Perimenopausal Women

Study finds sleep interruptions worsen during certain phases of menstrual cycle

Women in the early phases of menopause are more likely to have trouble sleeping during certain points in the menstrual cycle, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

During perimenopause – the earliest stage of the menopausal transition – women may have irregular menstrual cycles due to the body’s fluctuating hormone levels. Symptoms such as sleep disturbances and hot flashes typically begin three to five years prior to the onset of menopause, when a woman is in her 40s, according to the Hormone Health Network.

The study examined how hormone fluctuations affected sleep during the luteal and follicular phases of the menstrual cycle. The luteal phase occurs prior to menstruation. The follicular phase refers to the two weeks after menstruation.

“We found that perimenopausal women experience more sleep disturbances prior to menstruation during the luteal phase than they did during the phase after menstruation,” said one of the study’s authors, Fiona C. Baker, PhD, of the Center for Health Sciences at SRI International in Menlo Park, CA, and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. “Measures of electrical brain activity found that the hormone progesterone influences sleep, even at this late reproductive stage in perimenopausal women.”

The laboratory study examined sleep patterns in 20 perimenopausal women. Eleven of the participants experienced difficulty sleeping at least three times a week for at least a month, beginning with the onset of the menopausal transition.

The women each slept in a sleep laboratory twice – once in the days leading up to the start of the menstrual period and the other time several days after the menstrual period. Researchers used an electroencephalogram (EEG) to assess the women’s sleep and brain activity. Each participant also completed a survey regarding their sleep quality in the month prior to the laboratory testing and underwent a blood test to measure changes in hormone levels.

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Researchers found women had a lower percentage of deep, or slow-wave, sleep in the days before the onset of their menstrual periods, when their progesterone levels were higher. The women also woke up more often and had more arousals – brief interruptions in sleep lasting 3 to 15 seconds – than they did in the days after their menstrual periods. In contrast, sleep tends to be stable throughout the menstrual cycle in younger women.

“Menstrual cycle variation in hormones is one piece in the overall picture of sleep quality in midlife women,” Baker said. “This research can lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms behind sleep disturbances during the approach to menopause and can inform the development of better symptom management strategies.”

Other authors of the study include: Massimiliano de Zambotti, Adrian R. Willoughby, Stephanie A. Sassoon and Ian M. Colrain of the Center for Health Sciences at SRI International.

The study, “Menstrual-cycle Related Variation in Physiological Sleep in Women in the Early Menopause Transition,” was published online at http://press.endocrine.org/doi/10.1210/jc.2015-1844,

About the Endocrine Society: Founded in 1916, the Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest, largest and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Today, the Endocrine Society’s membership consists of over 18,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. Society members represent all basic, applied and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Washington, DC. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit their site at www.endocrine.org. Follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HormoneHealthN

Menopause

Is College Bad for Girls?

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Last week, I dreamed it again! THE COLLEGE DREAM. The one where there’s a class I haven’t been attending. I didn’t drop the class officially, and so I’m going to get an F on my transcript.This  was a double feature; add on my other college dream:  I think I have a term paper due, but I’m not really sure. And I don’t do squat about it. I worry but take no action.

I LOVED college! Why can’t I dream about my favorite professors?  The library?  (Yes, I liked the library.) Hanging my posters that first day back in the dorm after summer vacation? The Richard’s Wild Irish Rose we mixed with ginger ale? The parties? The crazy conversations?

Who knows. Cliff says the dream isn’t about college anymore. It’s about something else. I’m too old. It’s been too long since college.

Maybe.

But in my waking hours I love to happily reflect on how college shaped me. My education.The ways I use the bits and snatches of history and literature and art in my writing today. And the bigger stuff. The reach of the mind. The curiosity of the spirit. The wanting to be your own person as you delight in the brilliance of those who have gone before.

So this framed pamphlet, on the wall of the Red Elephant Inn in North Conway, New Hampshire, made my eyes pop. All l I’ve got to say to the author, E.J. Richards, is that I did all of those things in college. Yep, every single one. SO THERE!

And to our foremothers AND forefathers who campaigned for women’s education, LISTEN UP!

I don’t blame you for my college dream. I blame that on some failing of my psyche. Instead, I thank you. Let’s shout it from every quad and dorm and student union in the nation. You let us girls dream big. You gave us big stuff to dream about. On this Fourth of July, we thank you!

Catharine Beecher

The bottom photo is Catharine Beecher, champion of women’s education and sister to Harriet Beecher Stowe. Read the tragedy of her life and the way she turned it for good.

Anxiety Dreams: Here’s an article on anxiety dreams. The article  mentions the high school locker dream, which  I still have every now and then:. I put my things in a locker and then either can’t remember which locker it is or the right locker combination.