Women's Health

Menopausal Hormones May Cause Sleep Apnea

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The stress of a changing body plagued with sleep interruptions caused by hot flashes or night sweats can lead to depression which can in turn cause sleep issues. In both perimenopause and post-menopause women face an increase risk of almost thirty percent of developing sleep apnea, with another approximately ten percent developing severe sleep apnea. It's been suggested that hormonal changes may cause an increase in weight that is the most common risk factor for sleep apnea, particularly around the middle and the throat which may translate to a more narrow airway when laying down, contributing to snoring and thus apnea. Lower levels of progesterone and estrogen which play a role in stimulation of breathing muscles may also come into play and the lack of both those hormones may cause the muscle responsible for keeping the airways open during breathing to collapse.