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Sleep, Menopause, and Misperceptions about Sleep

Posted Aug 22 2012 5:34pm

My wife is 51, and is in menopause.

Like many women her age, she is frustrated by the sleep she gets each night. Hot flashes torment her, and an awful insomnia is all she can look forward to. She's convinced that she gets almost no sleep.

Platitudes from me that “you sleep more than you think” fall on deaf ears, so I decided to show her exactly what I meant.

I have used a sleep monitor to give me a detailed analysis of my sleep throughout the night for almost a year. She wore that same monitor (a high-tech headband) all night to see if her impressions of her sleep were correct.

When she woke up in the morning, her comment was “that was an absolutely typical night for me”.


The graphic is what the monitor produced. After studying hundreds of these, from dozens of people, I have some comments about her sleep.

  • I think this sleep is very typical for a menopausal woman.

  • You do sleep more than you think. Close to six hours in her case.

  • There's lots of deep sleep (over an hour) at the beginning of the night. Exactly where and when it belongs - Deep Sleep normally occurs during the first part of your night. Deep Sleep restores us physically.

  • She recieved a reasonable amount of REM Sleep too (1:05). REM Sleep restores us mentally.

  • She was awake three times during the night for longish periods of time. If she couldn't get back to sleep, this would be an issue, but she does eventually return. These are the periods she would remember and cause her to say “I was awake all night”.

Although her sleep could be better, the idea that “I didn't sleep last night” is wrong. She's not twenty anymore, and I believe that this sleep is both normal and envious.

I think that knowing this now, in and of itself, will help her sleep better.

Posted by Doug at BuildBetterSleep

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