Study links menopausal night sweats to impaired thinking

Menopausal women who get night sweats sleep longer and the longer they sleep, the more trouble they have thinking straight, a surprising new study concludes.

Earlier studies have drawn a link between daytime hot flashes and worse memory. In this study, researchers looked at sleep time and night sweats among women with a history of breast cancer.

Novel insights

To their surprise, the investigators found that more frequent night sweats were associated with longer sleep – and that the longer women slept, the more their attention and thinking skills ("cognition") decreased. However, the study only found an association and could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

Sleep time, however, did not affect memory. And daytime hot flashes did not affect total sleep time, the researchers noted.

"This work presents novel insights into the influence of menopausal symptoms on cognitive performance among women with a history of breast cancer and raises the possibility that hot flash treatments could benefit cognition in these women through effects on sleep," lead author John Bark said in a news release from the North American Menopause Society.

Bark is a doctoral student in behavioural neuroscience at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The findings are to be presented this week at a meeting of the North American Menopause Society, in Chicago. Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Image credit: iStock

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