If you’re already suffering menopause systems from hell, you certainly aren’t in the mood to hear that you may have sleep apnea, too. You thought it was a good sign when your spouse complained that your snoring was waking him up at night. That meant you were finally sleeping, right? Wrong. As if it’s not bad enough that hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, and the need to urinate more often are keeping you awake, now the doctor expects you to wear a sticky, uncomfortable mask, too? Maybe.
According to www.webmd.com, sleep apnea symptoms include the following:
Waking up with a very sore and/or dry throat
Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
Sleepiness while driving
Forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex
Recurrent awakenings or insomnia
Many of these symptoms may be the same types of ailments a woman suffers during menopause so it’s important to tell your gynecologist or sleep specialist each problem/symptom you are experiencing. Therefore, while you’re keeping your spouse awake at night, ask him to listen to see if you stop breathing at all and how many times if he feels like counting.
Recent research shows the effects of menopause on snoring or sleep apnea are due to advancing age. As you get older, you will find changes in the tone of the muscles in the neck and increased weight. There was also a research study conducted at Penn State College of Medicine that showed a connection between Sleep Apnea and menopause. The 5-year study, conducted by Edward Bixler, Ph.D., involved nearly 2,000 women between the ages of 20-100. Postmenopausal women who did not use hormone replacement therapy (HRT) developed Sleep Apnea at a rate five times greater than those women who were on HRT.
Luckily, with the help of a CPAP machine you can regulate your sleeping patterns. The CPAP machine blows air at a prescribed pressure. A sleep physician usually determines the necessary pressure after review of a study supervised by a sleep technician during an overnight study sleep laboratory. Although the CPAP machine is considered the most effective treatment for sleep apnea, other treatments are available such as:
Positional therapy (such as putting tennis balls in a tube sock and pinning the sock to the back of your nightshirt.)
Weight loss: Avoiding alcohol, pain killers, sedatives, and muscle relaxants
Oral appliances (such as a dental appliance called mandibular advancement device or MAD)
Surgery to remove excess tissue in the throat
Discovering that you have sleep apnea may not sound like good news but it could be the answer for those who have been treating menopause symptoms without success with HRT or other medications. If it were possible to restore your low energy, lose weight, regain your memory, and have an increased interest in sex again, wouldn’t it be worth wearing a mask every night? Yes!
To learn more about sleep apnea and menopause, read the following articles:How Menopause Affects Sleep by Michael J. Breus, PhD
Menopause, Hormone Replacement Therapy and Sleep Apnea
Sleep Problems in Menopausal Women