Menopause weight gain: The link with sleep

Sleep, precious sleep.

Many women suffer with disrupted sleep in the perimenopause and menopause. Whether this is having difficulty drifting off to sleep or waking up at 4 am on the dot. Every. Single. Night.

This is often our starting point when we begin working together, which comes as a surprise to some. Sleep is essential to our wellbeing and everything is so much harder when you are not getting enough of it.

A recent small-scale study by The Endocrine Society examined the role of sleep disturbance and hormonal changes in menopausal weight gain. In short, the study found that decreasing oestrogen combined with sleep disturbance decreased fat utilisation. This means:

“This may increase the likelihood of fat storage and subsequent weight gain during menopause.”

I want to sleep but can’t! What can I do?

Getting some basics right can be really helpful.

  • Get control of your blood sugar over the course of the day – Focus on 3 balanced homecooked meals, less alcohol, more vegetables, avoid snacking.
  • Don’t eat too close to bedtime.
  • Create a relaxing evening routine and go to bed at a consistent time.
  • Keep coffee and other caffeinated products to the morning and certainly no more after 2pm.
  • Exercise during the day, preferably not in the hours before going to bed.
  • Remove technology from the bedroom and avoid using your phone an hour before bed.
  • Avoid napping in the day.
  • Consider Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Helping you get a better night sleep decreases your chance of gaining weight and lowers your risks for diabetes and other related conditions. It also enables you to make better choices in the day as you have better control of your hormones and are not constantly craving all the carbs!

It is also worth noting that there are other things you can try depending on whether your problem is getting to sleep or waking up during the night but that would need us to have a more in depth conversation to establish what could work for you.

If you are in midlife and have tried to manage your weight without success, this could be something for you to focus on next. You might also be interested to read about a real client of mine and how I helped her to get a better nights sleep.

Reference:

Grant LK, Coborn JE, Cohn A, et al. Effect of experimentally induced sleep fragmentation and hypoestrogenism on fasting nutrient utilization in pre-menopausal women. Presented virtually at: ENDO 2021; March 20-23, 2021. Abstract OR17-4.