Altered nocturnal blood pressure profiles in women with insomnia disorder in the menopausal transition

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Insomnia disorder is a risk factor for cardiovascular (CV) pathology. It is unknown whether insomnia that develops in the context of the menopausal transition (MT) impacts the CV system. We assessed nocturnal blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) profiles in women with insomnia disorder in the MT.


Twelve women meeting DSM-IV criteria for insomnia in the MT (age, mean ± SD: 50.5 ± 3.6 y) and 11 controls (age, mean ± SD: 49.0 ± 3.0 y) had polysomnographic recordings on one or two nights during which beat-to-beat BP and HR were assessed and analyzed hourly from lights-out across the first 6 hours of the night and according to sleep stage. Physiological hot flashes were identified from fluctuations in sternal skin conductance.


Women with insomnia and controls had similar distributions of sleep stages and awakenings/arousals across hours of the night, although insomnia participants tended to have more wakefulness overall. More women in the insomnia group (7 of 12) than in the control group (2 of 11) had at least one physiological hot flash at night (P < 0.05). Both groups showed a drop in BP in the first part of the night; however, systolic and diastolic BP patterns diverged later, remaining low in controls but increasing in insomnia participants 4 to 6 hours after lights-out (P < 0.05). Both groups showed a similar pattern of decline in HR across the night.


Our findings suggest altered regulatory control of BP during sleep in the MT insomnia. The causes and long-term consequences of this altered nocturnal BP profile remain to be determined.

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