THURSDAY, Sept. 7, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Lots of middle-aged American women are fretfully counting sheep each night, new research shows.
The study, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that close to 20 percent of all women aged 40 to 59 said they had trouble falling asleep on four or more nights in the prior week.
Sleep troubles were even more likely if the woman was in the years where she's transitioning into menopause ("perimenopause"). Among these women, more than half (56 percent) said they typically got less than the seven hours of sleep per night that experts deem restful and healthy.
Even after menopause, sleep woes lingered: nearly 36 percent of postmenopausal women aged 40 to 59 said they had trouble staying asleep through the night.
None of this should surprise any woman who's gone through menopause, said one expert who reviewed the study.
Sleeplessness in this period is "going to be about hot flashes, which really start taking place during perimenopause," said Dr. Rajkumar Dasgupta. He is an assistant professor of clinical medicine with the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
"During this time, women can see their body temperature skyrocket, and they can experience night sweats, which means they're experiencing multiple arousals while trying to sleep," he explained.
"There's also the onset of mood changes, the most important of which is depression, which is very strongly associated with insomnia," Dasgupta added. "It's also a time of change -- empty-nest starts happening as kids leave the house, and sometimes there's a mid-life crisis, for both men and women."