In a recent survey of menopausal women conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona, sleep issues were reported to be the most common and severe symptom of menopause. The average age of the women interviewed was 49 and all had experienced their last menstrual period within the last three years.
The percentages of women suffering from each symptom are listed below in descending order:
• 95% Sleep Difficulties
• 92% Forgetfulness
• 87% Irritability
• 85% Night Sweats
• 91% Hot Flashes
• 80% Day Sweats
• 75% Mood Swings
• 71% Depression
• 55% Vaginal Dryness
• 35% Irregular Bleeding
The women in the study were also asked to rate the severity of each of their symptoms on a scale of zero to four. Difficulty sleeping rated an average of 2.9 followed by 2.6 for Night Sweats and 2.5 for Irritability, 2.42 forgetfulness, 2.41 hot flashes, 2.12 mood swings. Women reported that they were less affected by day sweats (1.88), depression (1.73), vaginal dryness (1.45) and irregular bleeding (0.82).
Women who reported problems with day sweats and hot flashes had an average of six a day and women who had problems with night sweats averaged about 3 per night.
The researchers found that some menopausal symptoms changed in frequency as women moved further into the menopause, however sleep difficulties remained a constant problem primarily due to night sweats.
The interesting thing about this study was that the most common symptoms reported by the women were not necessarily the most severe symptoms. For example, forgetfulness was the second most commonly reported symptom, but when it came to severity it only rated 4th out of the 10 symptoms studied. Night Sweats were the fourth most common symptom, but women rated them second when it came to severity.
A woman is said to have reached menopause when she has not had a period for a year. The beginning of this phase is known as perimenopause, the hormonal and biological changes associated with menopause begin and many women experience both physical and emotional symptoms.
This study clearly showed that sleep difficulties whether due to Night Sweats or not were the major problem for most women going through menopause.