sleep insomnia

Menopausal Night Sweats Linked to Worse Cognitive Performance Interview with:
John Bark, PhD Student
Behavioral Neuroscience Program
Department of Psychology
University of Illinois at Chicago What is the background for this study?

Response: 80% of women undergoing menopause experience vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats.   40-60% of women in menopause experience sleep problem.  Both of these symptoms of menopause have been associated with cognitive difficulties, but to my knowledge, this is the first study to use objective assessments of sleep and vasomotor symptoms to understand their effects on the brain. What are the main findings?

Response What we found was that among women with a history of breast cancer experiencing moderate to severe hot flashes, total sleep time alone wasn’t related to attention and executive functioning (e.g., planning, organizing, decision-making).  We found that the effect of total sleep time on memory was dependent on the number of night sweats you experienced, such that women experiencing no night sweats had improved cognitive performance with more sleep.  Meanwhile, women who experience a high number of hot flashes have a negative association between sleep and cognition, such that more sleep is harmful to cognitive functioning. What should readers take away from your report?

Response:  Although our results are preliminary, it means that sleep and night sweats may be modifiable risk factors for problems with attention and executive functioning in menopause.  That is, by improving sleep and/or reducing night sweats, women may be able to improve their cognitive functioning. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future studies should examine the effects of non-hormonal interventions for night sweats and test whether sleep mediates the relationship night sweats and cognitive functioning.  I would also love to study extend the length of time we measure hot flashes and night sweats as well as sleep.

I have no disclosures.


Cognitive Dysfunction Among Women with a History of Breast Cancer Experiencing Frequent Night Sweats and Longer Sleep Duration.

Abstract presented at the The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting in Chicago, September 25-28, 2019.



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Last Updated on September 25, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD