Background: Decreased production of female hormones might explain the increased prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing in postmenopausal women.
Objectives: We evaluated, whether menopause has an impact on the manifestation of sleep-disordered breathing in terms of signs, symptoms, and breathing pattern.
Methods: The study was a cross-sectional study utilizing a patient database, hospital records, sleep studies, and questionnaires. The hospital records and sleep studies were reviewed in 601 consecutive women studied between 1994 and 1998 in a university hospital pulmonary clinic. The records were completed with questionnaires.
Results: Nocturnal breathing abnormalities covered a greater proportion of the night in postmenopausal than in premenopausal women (68.1% versus 35.8% of time in bed, p<0.0001), and the prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing tended to be higher (86.2% versus 79.4% of time in bed, p=0.057). The body mass indices and the major symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing were similar in pre- and postmenopausal women. Postmenopausal women had less nasal congestion (p<0.001) than premenopausal ones. Body mass index was a significant explanatory factor of daytime sleepiness.
Conclusions: Post- and premenopausal women present with similar signs and symptoms when referred to sleep studies. However, sleep-disordered breathing is more severe in postmenopausal than in premenopausal women.