Sleep Apnea

Are you at higher risk of sleep apnea after menopause?


When you think of heavy snoring or breathing difficulties during sleep, most people would tend to picture a man. But that's just a stereotype. Women are also prone to sleep problems, including common sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea.

Forewarned is forearmed when it comes to sleep apnea. Find out if you’re at risk, so you can tick that one off and get on with enjoying your day.

Myth: Only men suffer from sleep apnea.

Sorry ladies - that's not true!

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tissues in your airways relax, blocking them partially or completely. The blockage causes you to momentarily stop breathing, which in turn makes you momentarily wake up. It may also cause loud snoring. It’s a great recipe for a disruptive night's sleep for you, not to mention your bed partner.

How menopause affects sleep (and so much more!)

Menopause sucks! There’s no getting round it but you can get through it, eventually. As if the hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, mood changes and weight gain weren’t enough, now we learn that the risk of sleep apnea is increased after menopause.1 Great! 

Generally speaking, post-menopausal women are less satisfied with their sleep and as many as 61% admit to having insomnia symptoms2.

Before reaching menopause, research shows around 30% of women have some sort of problem sleeping at least 3 times per week. During menopause, this figure rises 2 or 3 times3. Unfortunately, it is all too common for women to experience trouble sleeping during menopause.

Hot flushes and increased sweating during menopause are signs of reduced levels of oestrogen and progestogen. This can affect your sleep patterns. Progestogen is a sleep promoter, while lack of oestrogen can make it harder to cope with stress (another sleep disturber)4.

Are some women more likely to have sleep apnea?

Apart from menopause, other factors that may increase your risk of sleep apnea are being overweight, chronic nasal congestion, having asthma, smoking, having high blood pressure and a family history of sleep apnea5.

Postmenopausal women suffering from sleep apnea are thought to have more severe symptoms than younger women with this condition6.

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Find out if you are at risk of sleep apnea with our online sleep assessment.


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What are the symptoms of sleep apnea in menopausal women?

While it's important to seek professional advice, there are some tell-tale symptoms of sleep apnea for women who’ve been through menopause.

The symptoms may include:

  • Waking up in the morning with a headache
  • Experiencing severe sleepiness
  • Impaired concentration or memory
  • Sexual dysfunction

One of the clearest indicators might be your partner complaining that you’re snoring or that your breathing is irregular while you’re sleeping. If that's the case, you should look into it. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. However, it’s worth checking it out if you snore and/or have the above symptoms.

How to find out if you have sleep apnea

If you are experiencing frequent sleep disturbances and think you might have sleep apnea, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis. You can do a simple free sleep assessment here to see if you’re at risk. To diagnose sleep apnea a home sleep test is needed.

The sooner you get your sleep sorted, the quicker you'll be able to enjoy a deeper, more refreshing night's rest.

The good news is that sleep disorders like sleep apnea are treatable. If you’d like more information about sleep apnea and how it’s treated, download our Sleep Apnea Treatment Handbook.


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