Better Sleep, Better Sex
Menopause can cause a broad array of symptoms ranging from mild to serious. Women undergoing menopause experience hot flashes, mood changes, night sweats, weight gain, slowed metabolism, dry skin, thinning hair, and the list goes on. Sleep disturbances, sleep problems, and insomnia is also a common symptom of menopause. Sadly, as one new study found, these sleep issues can lead to sexual problems.
The North American Menopause Society published the outcomes of a new study that analyzed data from nearly 94,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 years old. Of the women studied, a staggering 31% reported insomnia as a side effect. When asked about their satisfaction with their current sexual activity, only 56% of women reported being very or somewhat satisfied.
The data found that older women tended to be less sexually active if they slept for less than seven or eight hours a night. Women over the age of 70 who slept for fewer than five hours per night had a 30% lower chance of engaging in regular sexual activity than women who got a full night of sleep (seven-eight hours).
It’s a well-established fact that sleep disturbances become common with age. Women tend to be the hardest-hit, as is evidenced by the high prevalence of insomnia (over 30,000 of the women analyzed). With this new data, it's clear that the negative effects of sleep problems can spread into every part of the body, including sexual function.
The good news is that there is a wide range of treatments that can help to improve sleep habits. During menopause, women may be able to undergo hormone therapy, which has been shown to markedly reduce sleep disruption. Hormone therapy may also be able to reduce the severity of menopause symptoms.
But let this study be a warning to everyone, men and women alike. Insomnia and sleep problems will cause fatigue, reduce your focus and concentration, and impair your decision-making abilities. It can also lead to increases in appetite, which may cause weight gain. However, a lack of sleep can be very problematic for your sex life. Not getting enough sleep at night will reduce your sexual appetite and lead to a decrease in sexual activity. If there was ever anything to make you realize the importance of a good night's sleep, this discovery (less sleep equals less sex) is definitely it.
1. Kling, Juliana M. MD, MPH; Manson, JoAnn E. MD, DrPH; Naughton, Michelle J. PhD, MPH; Temkit, M'hamed PhD; Sullivan, Shannon D. MD, PhD; Gower, Emily W. PhD; Hale, Lauren PhD; Weitlauf, Julie C. PhD; Nowakowski, Sara PhD; Crandall, Carolyn J. MD, MS., "Association of sleep disturbance and sexual function in postmenopausal women." Menopause, January 2017 DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000824.