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Keywords:

  • grounded theory;
  • perimenopause;
  • sleep disturbance;
  • women’s health

Aim.  To generate a descriptive theory framework regarding the experiences of sleep disturbances among perimenopausal women in Taiwan.

Background.  Although studies show that some perimenopausal women are troubled by sleep problems, little information was found about the subjective experiences of sleep disturbances among these women. Research is required to explore women's feelings or perceptions in dealing with their sleep problems. These understandings will be important to help alleviate perimenopausal women's sleep problems.

Design.  A grounded theory research design was applied.

Method.  Twenty-one Taiwanese sleep disturbed women, aged 46–57 years, participated in in-depth interviews.

Results.  ‘Getting back a good night’s sleep’ was the core theme for describing and guiding the process of the women’s sleep disturbance experiences. During the process, ‘disturbed sleep’ was identified as the antecedent condition that included subcategories: easy awakening, difficulty falling asleep, inner worries, physical discomfort and genetic and bodily constitution. Analyses showed five categories (some with subcategories) of the sleep disturbed women: (i) worsening health status – physical exhaustion, impaired social interactions, emotional swings and decreased work performance; (ii) living with lonely nights – self-help and endurance; (iii) a search for resources to relieve sleep difficulties – doctor shopping, trying alternative therapies, exercising and seeking support; (iv) vicious cycle and (v) acceptance of insomnia.

Conclusions.  Women expected to relieve their sleep disturbance by finding comprehensive counselling or by their body constitution responding to treatment. Healthcare providers need to value women’s individual concerns and subjective voices. Providers must seek out sleep counselling instead of simply prescribing drugs for their sleep difficulties.

Relevance to clinical practice.  It is crucial to integrate perimenopausal sleep care by implementing a multidimensional approach such as sleep assessment laboratories, sleep counselling, complementary alternative medicine, sleep strategies and support groups.