Aetiology and treatment of sleep disturbances during perimenopause and postmenopause

CNS Drugs. 2001;15(6):445-52. doi: 10.2165/00023210-200115060-00003.


The sudden and predictable cessation of ovarian endocrinological function at menopause results in a marked decrease of endogenous estrogen and progestogen secretion. In addition to cessation of menstruation, a wide range of biological functions, including sleep, are affected. Sleep disturbances are more common in women than in men and their incidence increases with age. There are 2 distinct mechanisms by which menopause is known to affect sleep quality. One is menopausal insomnia, which can be considered as part of the symptomatology of the climacterium. Another is sleep-disordered breathing, where impairment of sleep quality is secondary to sleep apnoea or partial upper airway obstruction during sleep. The former is effectively controlled with conventional estrogen replacement therapy, whereas the latter could potentially be improved with progestogens. Many age-related conditions without a direct link with the menopause should also be considered when treating postmenopausal sleep disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menopause / physiology
  • Menopause / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmenopause / physiology
  • Postmenopause / psychology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy*