Women who experience night sweats are more vulnerable to cognitive dysfunction as their sleep duration increases. That’s the paradoxical result of a study that will be presented during The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) Annual Meeting in Chicago, September 25-28, 2019.
Previous studies have demonstrated the association between daytime hot flashes and worse memory performance. In this new study involving women with a history of breast cancer, however, researchers focused on night sweats and how they relate to total sleep time. Surprisingly, more frequent night sweats were associated with greater sleep duration. Even more ironic, however, was the finding that these same women experiencing night sweats became more vulnerable to prefrontal cortex deficits, including decreased attention and executive function, as their sleep duration increased. Total sleep time, however, was unrelated to memory performance.
Separately it was determined that daytime hot flashes had no impact on total sleep time.
“This work presents novel insights into the influence of menopause 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,” says John Bark, PhD student, lead author of the study from the behavioral neuroscience doctoral program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in a release.
“Studies like this are valuable in helping healthcare providers develop effective treatment options for menopausal women complaining of cognitive decline as they focus on modifiable risk factors,” says Stephanie Faubion, MD, MBA, NAMS medical director.