A new study suggests that women who experience night sweats are more vulnerable to cognitive dysfunction as their sleep duration increases.
Previous studies have shown a link 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, according to the researchers.
Even more surprising, they said, 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, they noted.
The researchers also discovered 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,” said lead author John Bark, doctoral student in behavioral neuroscience the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“Studies like this are valuable in helping health care providers develop effective treatment options for menopausal women complaining of cognitive decline as they focus on modifiable risk factors,” added Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director for The North American Menopause Society.
The study findings were presented during 2019 North American Menopause Society (NAMS) annual meeting.