A small study recently conducted has been released by the Endocrine Society suggesting that sleep disturbances may contribute to weight gain in menopause. Lead researcher Leilah Grant, Ph.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass noted
Our findings suggest that not only estrogen withdrawal but also sleep disturbances during menopause may contribute to changes in a woman’s body that could predispose midlife women to weight gain”.
Rates of weight gain increase in women around the age of menopause, often thought to be caused by withdrawal of the female hormone estrogen. However Grant said that estrogen is unlikely to be the only contributing factor in weight gain. Another common symptom is sleep disturbance, which has independently been linked to changes in metabolism that might increase the risk of weight gain.
Many women rate their sleep quality as poor during the peri-menopause and after menopause, complaining of challenges in falling asleep, staying asleep and nocturnal awakenings. Under seven hours of sleep a night has been associated with increased mortality as well as linked to cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes (Sleep Disturbances and the Menopause, 2018).
With 25% of women between the ages of 50-64 years having sleep difficulties, addressing sleep quality is a focus of many studies. Sleep deprivation, by way of inadequate sleep, is very common. Within this recent study, researchers studied 21 healthy pre-menopausal women using an experimental model simulating sleep disturbances. By comparing the base normal nights of sleep and the nights of disturbed sleep during the study, researchers noted a significant reduction in the rate the women’s bodies used fat.
“In addition to estrogen withdrawal, sleep disturbances decrease fat utilization,” Grant said. “This may increase the likelihood of fat storage and subsequent weight gain during menopause.”
How to get a better night’s rest
- Keep your bedroom cool and well-ventilated
- Avoid certain foods that may cause sweating, especially before bed
- Avoid excess caffeine
- Exercise regularly (but not right before sleep)
- Maintain a regular bedtime routine and ‘lights out’ time
- Invest in a quality mattress, bed and pillow
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IMPORTANT – Information provided in this sleep health article is general in content and should not be seen as a substitute for professional medical advice. Concerns over sleep or other medical conditions should be discussed with your family doctor.