The Interplay Among Natural Menopause, Insomnia, and Cognitive Health: A Population-Based Study.

TitleThe Interplay Among Natural Menopause, Insomnia, and Cognitive Health: A Population-Based Study.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsShieu, MM, Braley, TJ, Becker, J, Dunietz, GLevi
JournalNat Sci Sleep
Date Published2023
ISSN Number1179-1608
KeywordsCognitive health, insomnia, Menopause

PURPOSE: The interrelationships among age at menopause, sleep, and brain health have been insufficiently studied. This study sought to examine the influence of age at natural menopause and insomnia symptoms on long-term cognitive function among US women.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Our study included a nationally representative cohort of US adults age 50+ from the Health and Retirement Study (2008-2018). We restricted this cohort to 5880 women age 50+, from a diverse racial and ethnic groups. Age at menopause was retrieved from baseline (2008) for women having natural menopause. Five questions were used to identify women with insomnia symptoms (2010 and 2012): trouble falling asleep, nighttime awakenings, early morning awakenings, feelings of nonrestorative sleep, and use of sleep aids. A battery of four neuropsychological tests was conducted biennially (years) to evaluate cognitive function. Longitudinal associations between age at natural menopause and cognitive function were estimated with mixed effects models with a random intercept. Insomnia symptoms were examined as potential mediators or modifiers in the pathway between age at menopause and cognition.

RESULTS: One year earlier in age at menopause was associated with a 0.49 lower mean in composite cognitive score, in any given survey year (adjusted p = 0.002). Earlier age at menopause was associated with higher risk of developing insomnia symptoms (eg, trouble falling asleep OR = 0.97; 95% CI: 0.96, 0.99), and insomnia symptoms were associated with worse cognitive performance (eg, trouble falling asleep, beta = -0.5, p-value = 0.02). Therefore, insomnia symptoms could potentially mediate the association between age at natural menopause and cognition.

CONCLUSION: Earlier age at menopause is associated with a lower score in cognitive performance. This association may be mediated by insomnia symptoms. Our findings spotlight that among women who experience early menopause, there is the need for studies of sleep-based interventions to mitigate cognitive decline.

User Guide Notes

Alternate JournalNat Sci Sleep
Citation Key13179
PubMed ID36820129
PubMed Central IDPMC9938660