Women with type 2 diabetes are more likely to face sleep-related issues during menopause than those without diabetes, according to a study in the United States.
Among the 164 middle-aged women who completed an internet survey, those with diabetes averaged 10 sleep-related symptoms while those without diabetes averaged about seven.
“Sleep-related symptoms are one of the most frequently reported symptoms among midlife women in menopausal transition across racial/ethnic groups,” said Eun-Ok Im of the Duke University School of Nursing in Durham, North Carolina, who led the study which was published in the journal Menopause.
About half of menopausal women with type 2 diabetes report sleep-related symptoms, compared to a quarter of midlife women without diabetes, Im said, Reuters Health reported.
Night sweats, hot flashes and frequent urination associated with menopause could cause women to wake up several times during the night, and symptoms such as frequent urination could be related to diabetes, she added.
The survey included questions about health, menopause, sleep and background characteristics. Participants’ average age was 50, and more than half were overweight. About 20 per cent were premenopausal, 35 per cent were early or late menopausal and 46 per cent were postmenopausal. And 38 per cent had type 2 diabetes.
Im’s team found that the average number of sleep-related symptoms, such as headache, night sweats, anxiety, frequent urination and fatigue, was higher in those with type 2 diabetes than those without diabetes. Frequent urination, fatigue and numbness in particular were significantly more common in women with diabetes.
The average symptom severity score was also significantly higher with diabetes. For a list of 24 symptoms, rating every one with the highest severity score of 5 would produce a total score of 120. On average, women without diabetes had total symptom severity scores of 21.87 while those with diabetes averaged scores of 33.42.
Postmenopausal women tended to have significantly higher numbers of sleep symptoms and severity scores, the authors note, as did non-Hispanic Asian women with type 2 diabetes. In other racial and ethnic groups, there were no statistically meaningful differences between women with and without diabetes.
“Few studies have been done on the association between sleep-related symptoms and diabetes while considering menopausal status or racial/ethnic diversities,” Im said. “However, this could give some direction for future research or practice.”
Im and her colleagues have begun studying the effects of a technology-based physical activity program on sleep-related symptoms among menopausal women. The next step might be an exercise program for midlife women who have diabetes, she said.
“Regular physical activity may help to mitigate the tendency for weight gain and adverse changes in body composition and fat distribution that accompany aging and the menopausal transition,” said Dr Hirohito Sone of Niigata University in Japan, who wasn’t involved in the study.
Before age 60, diabetes is less common among women than men, Sone noted. But women in their 60s and 70s are more likely than men to have diabetes, which may suggest that hormonal changes associated with menopause could be related to the risk of diabetes in women after menopause, he said.
“Further investigations are needed to determine whether different interventions for older postmenopausal women could control modifiable factors such as metabolically unhealthy obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension and lifestyle,” Sone said.
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