Optimizing Sleep During Perimenopause and Beyond

Life Sciences, Drug Discovery & Development, Healthcare, Fundamental Research, Home Healthcare,
  • Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Sleep is essential for overall health and emotional well-being. Better sleep health leads to a better quality of life, lending to a wide range of positive effects including strengthened immunity, optimized brain and cognitive functioning, improved mood and well-regulated energy metabolism. On the other hand, sleep disturbances negatively affect the health and functioning of various physiological systems. Sleep disturbances are common in midlife women and are often associated with the transition to menopause, known as perimenopause.

During perimenopause, dramatic hormonal changes occur and vasomotor symptoms (e.g., hot flashes) become prominent, as well as increasing prevalence of primary sleep and other physical and mental health disorders.


Nocturnal hot flashes can be particularly disruptive to sleep, being associated with a risk for insomnia disorder and contributing to a less restful sleep with more night-time wakefulness. Experimental studies at SRI International show a strong overlap in timing between hot flash onset and awakenings, with more than two-thirds of nocturnal hot flashes coinciding with an awakening. Those hot flash awakenings are accompanied by an increase in systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate, indicating transient effects on cardiovascular recovery during sleep.

SRI International has also innovated the development of systems and advanced methods to track and manage hot flashes, which can be used by individuals with hot flashes to decide together with their clinicians about treatment options.

Beyond hot flashes, the reduction in estradiol and increase in follicle-stimulating hormone also predict more awakenings, supporting a direct relationship between reproductive hormone changes and sleep disruption in midlife women. There are a growing number of management options for sleep difficulties in the context of menopause, including hormonal and non-hormonal options and cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia.

Initial work at SRI International has shown promising results that a bedtime behavioral intervention in women with menopausal insomnia relaxes individuals and leads to improvements in sleep. Clinical trials of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia have also shown durable improvements in sleep as well as less interference from hot flashes, suggesting that non-pharmacological therapies tailored for midlife women are effective management strategies.

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Given the long-term negative consequences for health and quality of life of chronic sleep disturbances, there is a need for further research to advance preventative and treatment strategies optimized for midlife women experiencing poor sleep in the context of perimenopause and beyond.

Join this webinar to get insights on the importance of sleep for women’s health and the effective management strategies for sleep in perimenopause and beyond.


Fiona Baker, SRI Biosciences

Fiona Baker, PhD, Director of the Center of Health Sciences at SRI Biosciences

Dr. Fiona Baker is the Director of the Center for Health Sciences and Human Sleep Research Program at SRI International. She leads a research program that strives to address important problems affecting human health. She also holds an appointment as an Honorary Professorial Research Fellow in the Brain Function Research Group, School of Physiology, at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in South Africa.

Dr. Baker has been active in basic and clinical sleep and neuroscience research for over 18 years. She is an expert in women’s health and sleep, considering sleep disturbances in the context of menstrual and menopausal health. She also has extensive experience in the study of the brain and behavior in adolescence and is actively involved in longitudinal NIH-funded consortiums (NCANDA and ABCD) aimed at investigating factors that impact neurodevelopment, including alcohol and other substance use, in children and adolescents.



Baker’s team has developed novel technology for women’s health and insomnia and contributed to an SRI spin-out company, Lisa Health, which creates advanced technology solutions for menopause and healthy aging. Her team is also a world leader in the application and use of wearable technology in the sleep space.

Dr. Baker holds a PhD in Physiology from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in South Africa. She completed her post-doctoral training in the Psychology/Neurobiology program at the University of California in Los Angeles. Baker has authored over 120 peer-reviewed research papers, reviews and book chapters. She is an Associate Editor of two prominent journals in the field of sleep, SLEEP and Behavioral Sleep Medicine. Her research has been mainly supported by NIH and contracts with private companies.

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Who Should Attend?

This webinar is suitable for a wide audience, including:

  • The general public interested in women’s health and sleep
  • Medical providers
  • Biomedical researchers involved in basic research and therapeutics development in the Women’s Health space

What You Will Learn

Attendees will learn about:

  • What is sleep health and why is it important in the context of women’s health
  • Links between vasomotor symptoms (e.g., hot flashes), awakenings and insomnia
  • What are the hormonal changes across the menopausal transition and how do they affect sleep
  • What are effective management strategies for sleep disturbances and insomnia in the context of menopause

Xtalks Partner

SRI International

SRI International, a non-profit research institute founded in 1946 and headquartered in Menlo Park, California, creates world-changing solutions to make people safer, healthier, and more productive. SRI Biosciences, a division of SRI International, integrates basic biomedical research with drug and diagnostics discovery, and preclinical and clinical development. SRI Biosciences has advanced more than 175 drugs to clinical trials, and approximately 20 have reached the market. The division is focused on novel platforms and programs in a variety of therapeutic areas targeting Discovery through Preclinical development in high unmet medical need areas. SRI Biosciences collaborates with a broad range of partners from small and virtual biotechnology companies to top pharmaceutical companies and other leading industry partners. More information is available at www.sri.com/biosciences.

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