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Menopause is a natural and inevitable cycle of life, but some women may be blindsided by the severity of their symptoms. The manifestations of menopause are often interlinked, making them more difficult to manage. Sleep disturbances, for instance, are believed to be the result of uncomfortable hot flushes. Night sweats, a new study has suggested, are likely exacerbated by sedentary behaviour.
A new study has suggested that sedentary behaviour can increase the likelihood of nighttime hot flushes.
Analysing women at different stages of menopause, researchers aimed to determine whether objectively measured sedentary behaviour could predict night sweats.
Approximately 80 percent of women who go through menopause will suffer hot flushes, with some studies suggesting the symptom may be related to increased risk for heart disease.
Doctor Sarah Witkowski, co-author of the study, said: “Since women near the menopause transition spend a large portion of their daily activities in sedentary behaviour, it’s important to understand how such behaviour influences menopausal hot flushes.
“Knowledge regarding the influence of sedentary behaviour on hot flashes can improve evidence of lifestyle recommendations for women experiencing hot flushes.
“With such a large portion of women affected by hot flushes, research that helps identify triggers and risk factors is always valuable.
“Healthcare professionals should receive a patient’s physical activities and routines when discussing treatment options.”
The study, which looked at women aged 45 to 55, will today be presented at the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society.
Researchers measured women’s night sweats by using electrodes applied to their chests.
They found that women who were in the earlier and later stages of the transition period had about nine episodes of night sweats in a night.
Doctor Witkowski added: “As researchers, we want to reduce the difficulties many women have through mid-life and try to make it a little better.
“It is very easy to sit for three hours at a time, particularly working or watching television, but these results suggest women might want to take breaks when they get up and move around.”
It remains unclear why movement is linked to a lower likelihood of night sweats.
Researchers believe it could be down to the expansion of blood vessels during exercise which allows heat to escape.
When women lead sedentary lifestyles, however, the blood vessels at the surface of their skin are less likely to expand, causing heat to stay trapped under the epidermis.
Of the 30 symptoms associated with menopause, hot flushes are one of the most widely reported.
The duration of symptoms will vary hugely between women, but some can experience them for years.
Some signs may appear three or four years before a woman’s final period, and these will typically include night sweats, sleep loss, weight gain, mood swings, anxiety and problems with thought processing.
The year at which a woman will enter the transition period is believed to be influenced partly by genetics – the age at which a woman’s mother started menopause may therefore be a clue.
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