Sleep disturbances can contribute to weight gain in menopause

WASHINGTON – Treating sleep symptoms during menopause could reduce weight vulnerability, according to a small study presented almost exclusively at ENDO 2021, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.

“Our findings suggest that not only estrogen depletion but also sleep disturbances during menopause may contribute to changes in a woman’s body that middle-aged women may be stressed by. pressure, ”said lead researcher Leilah Grant, Ph.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass. “Helping women sleep better during menopause can reduce a woman’s chances of gaining weight, and reduce her risk of diabetes and other related diseases. “

Obesity levels rise in women around the age of menopause. Menopause-related weight gain is often thought to be caused by the removal of the female hormone estrogen. Estrogen does not appear to be the only contributing factor, however, as all women stop making estrogen in menopause while only about half women gaining weight, Grant said. Another common symptom, which also affects about half of women during menopause, is sleep disturbance, which has been independently linked to changes in metabolism that may increase the risk of weight gain. .

To better understand the role of sleep disturbances and hormonal changes in menopausal weight gain, the researchers studied 21 pre-menopausal healthy women. They used an experimental model simulating the sleep disturbance of menopause to study the effects of poor sleep on fat utilization in the body.

Participants had two nights of uninterrupted sleep followed by three nights of uninterrupted sleep, where they were awakened by an alarm device every 15 minutes for 2 minutes each time. The researchers then found a subset of nine participants in the same sleep-breaking protocol after being given a drug called leuprolide, which temporarily eliminated estrogen-like menopause.

Compared to a normal night’s sleep, after three nights of disturbed sleep there was a significant reduction in the rate at which women’s bodies used fat. A similar decrease in fat consumption was also observed when estrogen was suppressed, even during normal sleep. The combination of low estrogen and sleep disturbance reduced fat consumption, but the effect was no greater than either alone.

“In addition to estrogen removal, sleep disturbances reduce fat utilization,” Grant said. “This may increase the likelihood of fat storage and subsequent weight gain during menopause.”


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