Sleep disorders increase in prevalence during the menopausal transition and they constitute a complex phenomenon. Insomnia, the main sleep disorder, can be a primary disorder or it can be secondary to hot flushes (HF), mood disorders, psychosocial factors, medical conditions, and other sleep disturbances, such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) or restless legs syndrome (RLS).
Menopausal women complaining of persistent sleep disorders should be referred to a sleep specialist for comprehensive sleep management because unrecognized and untreated sleep disorders can have dramatic health-related consequences. Women suffering from insomnia related to vasomotor symptoms (VMS) can be treated with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Primary insomnia will be preferentially improved with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT-I) or with non-benzodiazepine hypnotics or melatonin. CBT-I is a highly efficacious treatment for postmenopausal women with insomnia. Using antidepressants to treat sleep disruption in the absence of depression is not recommended; instead, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved paroxetine as the first non-hormonal treatment for HF. Sleep disorders in menopausal women should not be underestimated. It is necessary to diagnose the specific causal disorder and then to provide treatment to improve sleep quality and quality of life.