For menopausal women who can't make it to the gym, higher levels of routine physical activity during the day may help relieve sleep problems caused by hot flashes or night sweats, a small new study suggests.
Exercise improves sleep for people in general, but studies in menopausal women have been inconclusive, said the researchers at the Pittsburgh site of the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation.
Their new study included 27 white and 25 black women, aged 54 to 63, with hot flashes and night sweats. The women kept sleep diaries and wore sleep monitors. They also provided information about their physical activity levels, including routine household and caregiving chores requiring light, moderate or vigorous effort, as well as sports and exercise in their leisure time.
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The investigators found that women with higher levels of daytime activity reported fewer nighttime awakenings and better sleep. These benefits were mainly associated with household and caregiving chores, rather than sports or exercise, the study authors noted in a news release from the North American Menopause Society.
The positive effects of physical activity occurred mainly in white women who were not obese. Further research is needed to find out why black and obese women may not get the same sleep benefits from physical activity, the researchers said.
The study, by Maya Lambiase and Rebecca Thurston, was released online recently in the journal Menopause in advance of publication in the September print issue of the journal.