on a family when less time is available to meet family/home responsibilities and enjoy recreational and social activities. Female shift workers also suffer irregular menstrual cycles, difficulty getting pregnant, higher rates of miscarriages, premature births and low birth-weight babies more than regular day working women, according to several large studies. Still, most shift-working women do have normal, healthy babies. Changes in exposure to light and lost sleep caused by shift work may have biological or hormonal effects that are not yet entirely understood. One large study of women who worked night shifts over a 3-year period found a 60% greater risk for developing breast cancer. Women shift workers should consult their doctor if experiencing menstrual difficulties, infertility, pregnancy or other medical conditions/ problems.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that is characterized by snoring, interrupted breathing during sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness. An estimated 18 million Americans have sleep apnea including one in four women over 65. While apnea is more common in men, it increases in women after age 50. Because being overweight is a risk factor for sleep apnea, the increase in abdominal fat during menopause may be one reason menopausal women are 3.5 times as likely to get this sleep disorder. Some attribute the prevalence to hormonal changes such as the decrease in progesterone. Studies have also found that sleep apnea is associated with increased blood pressure, a risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. If any of these symptoms appear, it is important to address them with your doctor. A number of effective treatment approaches are available.