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Relationship of menopausal status and climacteric symptoms to sleep in women undergoing chemotherapy


Goals of work

The goal of this study was to examine the relationship between menopausal symptoms, sleep quality, and mood as measured by actigraphy and self-report prior to treatment and at the end of four cycles of chemotherapy in women with breast cancer.

Patients and methods

Data on sleep quality (measured using actigraphy and self-report) and mood were collected prior to treatment and 12 weeks later at the end of four cycles of chemotherapy in 69 women with newly diagnosed breast cancer. In addition, each filled out the Greene Climacteric Scale. Based on reported occurrence of menses, participants were categorized post hoc into three menopausal status groups: pre-menopausal before and after chemotherapy (Pre-Pre), pre-menopausal or peri-menopausal before and peri-menopausal after chemotherapy (Pre/Peri-Peri), and post-menopausal before and after chemotherapy (Post-Post).

Main results

Results suggested that women within the Pre-Pre group evidenced more fragmented sleep with less total sleep time (TST) after chemotherapy compared to baseline. Compared to the other groups, the Pre-Pre group also experienced less TST and more awakenings before and after chemotherapy. Although the Pre/Peri-Peri group evidenced a greater increase in vasomotor symptoms after chemotherapy, there was no relationship with sleep. All groups evidenced more depressive symptoms after chemotherapy, but depression was not related to measures of sleep.


Contrary to the study hypothesis, these results suggest that women who are pre-menopausal or having regular menses before and after four cycles of chemotherapy have worse sleep following chemotherapy. Those women who maintain or become peri-menopausal (irregular menses) experience an increase in climacteric symptoms but do not experience an associated worsening of sleep. These results are preliminary and more research is necessary to further explain these findings.

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