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Sleep Problems: It's nothing to do with the menopause, doc
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Older women often have difficulties sleeping

Older women often have difficulties sleeping. Doctors tend to blame this common problem on the menopause - and they are wrong.

Sleep problems - which, according to one recent survey, affect nearly half of all American women aged between 55 and 64 - are more to do with stress and other illnesses than any hormonal change.

One of the key problems is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a breathing disorder which doctors mistakenly believe mainly affects men. In fact, apnea is a very common - but unrecognised - problem in women after the menopause, and it's one that also increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Other age-related problems - such as restless legs syndrome, diabetes and arthritis - may also add to a woman's poor sleep patterns.

Older women may also be juggling home and work problems, which can add to their stress levels and their inability to sleep.

(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2007; 297: 1865-6).

E-news broadcast 3 May 2007 No.356

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