Hot Flashes Linked to Insomnia

Severe Hot Flashes, Chronic Insomnia Often Go Together, Study Shows

From the WebMD Archives

June 26, 2006 -- Women who have severe menopausal hot flashesoften have chronic insomniaas well, a new study shows.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, comes from Maurice Ohayon, MD, DSc, PhD, of Stanford University's medical school.

"Severe hot flashes are strongly associated with chronic insomnia in midlife women," writes Ohayon, who recommends asking women with chronic insomnia about hot flashes and possibly treating hot flashes to improve sleep quality.

About Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause. Up to 85% of menopausal women experience them, according to background information cited in the study.

Data for Ohayon's findings came from 982 California women age 35-65 years. Ohayon split the women into three groups:

  • Before menopause (premenopausal): 562 women
  • Around the time of menopause (perimenopausal): 219 women
  • After menopause (postmenopause): 201 women

Menopause doesn't happen overnight. Here's what those terms mean in this study:

  • Premenopause: Women at least 35 years old who reported regular menstrual periods in the last year.
  • Perimenopause: Women who reported irregular menstrual periods during the last year and had at least one period in the previous year.
  • Postmenopause: Women who reported no menstrual bleeding during the last 12 months.

During telephone interviews, the women were asked if they had hot flashes. They also rated their hot flashes' severity by these standards:

  • Mild: Hot flashes usually don't cause sweating.
  • Moderate: Hot flashes usually include sweating that doesn't limit activities.
  • Severe: Hot flashes usually cause sweating that prompts a woman to stop her activity.

The women also reported any sleep problems. Chronic insomnia was defined as at least six months of poor quality sleep, including trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.