Chaos to Calm

Unraveling Sleep and Weight Loss Resistance in Perimenopause

March 03, 2024 Sarah McLachlan Episode 37
Unraveling Sleep and Weight Loss Resistance in Perimenopause
Chaos to Calm
More Info
Chaos to Calm
Unraveling Sleep and Weight Loss Resistance in Perimenopause
Mar 03, 2024 Episode 37
Sarah McLachlan

Navigating perimenopause brings its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to managing your weight, and trying to get a good night's sleep. It can be a perplexing time when your usual tricks for maintaining your weight and health don't seem to work, and a full night's sleep becomes a cherished memory rather than a nightly occurrence.

Why does this happen, and what can we do about it? 

In this episode, we explore the vital connection between sleep and weight management. With hormones playing a pivotal role in how our bodies function, the changes that come with perimenopause can significantly impact our metabolism and sleep patterns. This episode offers science-backed insights into how these changes affect us and provides practical, actionable advice to help navigate this challenging but manageable time.

Are you ready to unlock the secrets to balancing sleep and weight in perimenopause? Click here to gain access to strategies that understand the complexity of your body's needs during this transformative phase.

🌿 WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER

  • The scientific link between sleep quality and weight during perimenopause.
  • How hormonal changes impact your sleep and weight, and what you can do about it.
  • Practical tips for improving sleep hygiene to support your weight loss goals.
  • The importance of personalised strategies in managing sleep and weight during perimenopause.
  • How embracing a holistic approach can lead to better health outcomes.

Send us a question for the FAQs segment or your feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

Find out more about Sarah, her services and the Freebies mentioned in this episode at https://www.ThePerimenopauseNaturopath.com.au

  • COMING SOON: Discover how to use food as your most powerful medicine, smoothing hormonal fluctuations and easing perimenopause symptoms naturally. (Yes, you have more options than hormone therapy!) Say goodbye to feeling out of control and hello to feeling more like your old self every day, with PerimenoPOWER (because who wants to pause anyway?!)
  • The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.
  • For more, follow on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Navigating perimenopause brings its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to managing your weight, and trying to get a good night's sleep. It can be a perplexing time when your usual tricks for maintaining your weight and health don't seem to work, and a full night's sleep becomes a cherished memory rather than a nightly occurrence.

Why does this happen, and what can we do about it? 

In this episode, we explore the vital connection between sleep and weight management. With hormones playing a pivotal role in how our bodies function, the changes that come with perimenopause can significantly impact our metabolism and sleep patterns. This episode offers science-backed insights into how these changes affect us and provides practical, actionable advice to help navigate this challenging but manageable time.

Are you ready to unlock the secrets to balancing sleep and weight in perimenopause? Click here to gain access to strategies that understand the complexity of your body's needs during this transformative phase.

🌿 WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER

  • The scientific link between sleep quality and weight during perimenopause.
  • How hormonal changes impact your sleep and weight, and what you can do about it.
  • Practical tips for improving sleep hygiene to support your weight loss goals.
  • The importance of personalised strategies in managing sleep and weight during perimenopause.
  • How embracing a holistic approach can lead to better health outcomes.

Send us a question for the FAQs segment or your feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

Find out more about Sarah, her services and the Freebies mentioned in this episode at https://www.ThePerimenopauseNaturopath.com.au

  • COMING SOON: Discover how to use food as your most powerful medicine, smoothing hormonal fluctuations and easing perimenopause symptoms naturally. (Yes, you have more options than hormone therapy!) Say goodbye to feeling out of control and hello to feeling more like your old self every day, with PerimenoPOWER (because who wants to pause anyway?!)
  • The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.
  • For more, follow on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.
Sarah McLachlan:

Hey there, I'm Sarah McLachlan. Thanks for joining me on the Chaos to Calm podcast, a podcast designed for women over 40 who think that changing hormones might be messing with their mood, metabolism, and energy and want to change that in a healthy, sustainable, and permanent way. Each episode will explore topics related to health and wellness for women in their 40s, like what the heck is happening to your hormones, what to do about it with nutrition, lifestyle, and stress management, and inspiring conversations with guests sharing their insights and tips on how to live your best life in your 40s and beyond. So if you're feeling like you're in the midst of a hormonal storm and don't want perimenopause to be horrific, then join me on Chaos to Calm, as I share with you how to make it to menopause without it wrecking your relationships and life. Hello and welcome back to Chaos to Calm podcast episode number 37. It's me, Sarah, the perimenopause naturopath, here, ready to dive into another chat with you about life after 40 and perimenopause and the common pitfalls and issues that arise at this phase of life. So today I want to know if you've ever felt like you're spinning wheels, like you're doing all the right things, you're trying to lose that weight that can creep on once you hit into your 40s and beyond, but you're really getting nowhere. And you know, everyone talks about diet and exercises, the thing for dropping weight, and maybe you are doing those things, you know. Maybe you're doing what everyone tells you eat less and move more or whatever flavor of that is in vogue at the moment. There's, you know, changing all the time, although not really. They seem to just be all versions of eat less, move more. Can you tell? I'm sick of it, but I want to know. Do you know there's a relationship between sleep and weight loss? And so today that's what we're going to dive into because sleep, or lack thereof, is really common in your 40s and perimenopause and it has a sneaky way of impacting your weight loss and your overall health and well-being and your symptoms that you feel during perimenopause. So let's start by talking about Michelle Now.

Sarah McLachlan:

Michelle and I met a couple of years ago. She was really stuck in that cycle of feeling exhausted but not sleeping well at night, so she'd go to bed early. She was doing lots of you know, the right things or the good things around sleep, but once she was in bed, it was eyes wide open, clock ticking, mind ticking away. I bet that feels familiar for lots of you as well. So of course it's no surprise that she was exhausted. Falling asleep was really difficult for her. It might take anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours. She never knew, never knew what the night was going to hold when she hopped into bed there. And then you know, she did wake up as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

And I'm sure you know I've experienced this myself, lots of my clients have as well, and I bet you have too in early or very early perimenopause when you might not really realize that that's what's going on for you, you start waking up and you know one, two, three o'clock, maybe during the night, or maybe just start waking up really early, 5 am , and you can't get back to sleep. So this was the same for Michelle. You know nighttime awakening had become her new normal since she'd moved into her 40s and into perimenopause, and each time she woke it was a lot like it could be 10 minutes, it could be two hours before she went back to sleep. So even though she was going to bed pretty early about 9.30, or 10, she wasn't getting enough sleep to sustain her mental health and physical health there as well. So in the morning she was just feeling wiped out and totally unrefreshed. So you might be thinking well, what does Michelle's sleep struggle have to do with perimenopause? You know it's part of perimenopause, but what's it got to do with losing weight? Yeah, Michelle's story is a classic example because also what I wanted to say, the important thing I've left out there is actually Michelle wanted to lose 20 kilos, so she had gained 20 kilos over her 40s and her early perimenopause experience. So she was in her when I met her and around losing weight. Michelle was doing all of the right things. So she was, you know, trying to watch what she ate, eat clean, eat healthy, you know, keep out the snacks and the sweets and the alcohol and stuff like that. She was doing movement most days but still not losing weight. So her story is quite a textbook example of how those hormone fluctuations of perimenopause can lead to disrupted sleep and then can also turn into a significant roadblock for weight loss.

Sarah McLachlan:

And that's really what I want to talk about today, how sleep, or lack thereof, impacts your weight and overall health. So our human bodies are very complex You've heard me say that before, for sure. But each system really relies on us getting plenty of quality rest. We can't understate the importance of sleep. It's actually I kind of jokingly say this to my clients in their education course. That's part of the Kailstercar method, but it's not really a joke, because actually sleeping and giving yourself the opportunity to get good quality sleep is one of the best self-care things that you can do. Your metabolism, your weight, your mental health, and your well-being rely on you getting plenty of quality rest. So let's have a look at some of the links between sleep and weight loss and why it becomes a blocker in perimenopause there as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

So the biggest baddie when it comes to your sleep, sabotaging your weight, has to be stress. You know, I was going to say it, it's every time. I can't understate it. It really is the biggest blocker to your health, happiness, and weight loss. Sleep deprivation is a massive source of physical stress on the body because you don't get the opportunity to restore and repair tissue damage and your brain doesn't get the opportunity to rest and restore there as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

So elevated cortisol levels can tell your body to store more fat to protect you. But it also encourages the use of muscle as an energy source, which actually leads to a lower metabolic rate. So in terms of your appetite, higher cortisol will boost it and encourage you to eat more food overall, particularly those higher carb, instant energy foods like sweets and chips and biscuits and that kind of thing. So your appetite is boosted but your overall metabolic rate is lower. So you're more likely to store fat, and less likely to burn fat. You're going to lose your muscle mass and that has really big implications for us in the long term in terms of our full risk as we age and longevity.

Sarah McLachlan:

So it is really important to preserve and protect your muscle mass. So there have been studies done on this and there's one study that found in people attempting to lose weight, the participants got only five and a half hours of sleep per night, which doesn't sound like much, but I bet for lots of you that's actually probably what you're getting around about that. So those only getting five and a half hours of sleep per night lost 60% more muscle mass compared to those who got eight and a half hours of sleep. So in the sleep deprivation groups, five and a half hours is considered sleep deprivation they experienced 55% less fat loss. So they lost less fat. They also sabotaged their metabolic rate long term, so slowed their long loss and muscle mass.

Sarah McLachlan:

Muscle is like a glucose- burning factory. So it's really important for us to build muscle and as we lead into menopause and then in the years immediately post menopause, we lose muscle mass at a much more rapid rate. So it's harder to build it and it's harder to preserve it. So we don't need to do other things like not having enough sleep. That's going to further accelerate that. You know we're really pushing rocks up hill here, so we want to not add more boulders for us to push up that mountain.

Sarah McLachlan:

So another big link between sleep and weight loss is your insulin sensitivity or resistance. So when you're more resistant to insulin, your cells can't access the energy, the glucose, that they need to function properly. So insulin is a hormone that your pancreas secretes when you eat food and it unlocks the cells, opens them up, so they draw glucose in from the bloodstream into the cells and they use that in their energy- making factories to create energy for your cells so that they can do the things that they were designed to do. So what happens when you're more resistant to insulin? The body converts more energy into fat stores rather than using it for fuel. It also holds on to those fat stores and avoids using it for energy as much as possible. So you're more likely to create fat and store fat and less able to burn fat. Higher insulin there as well also makes you crave more sweet, carb- dense foods because your cells still need that energy. So your blood glucose level is higher but your cells are essentially starving because they can't get that energy into the cells.

Sarah McLachlan:

So just one night of partial sleep deprivation Now remember what we said, what I said before that five and a half hours counts as sleep deprivation. So just one night of reduced sleep can induce insulin resistance. So that's part of the reason why you crave those energy- hit foods or those unhealthier foods after you stay up too late Now. So long-term sleep deprivation can really contribute to ongoing insulin resistance and even lead to type 2 diabetes. And that's not even taking into account that, as our estrogen levels fluctuate through perimenopause and start to decline, that also contributes to and increases our insulin resistance. So there are multiple factors going in there and again, just like I said before, like we don't need to add to the rocks that we're pushing uphill by having less sleep and losing more muscle, we also don't need to have, you know, add to the insulin resistance picture, because your hormone changes are already creating that scenario. By having less sleep, you're actually making that worse.

Sarah McLachlan:

Now let's talk about our thyroid because we also have to consider how sleep deprivation impacts our thyroid, which is like our thermostat, our metabolism thermostat in our body. It's the engine, that drives metabolism and how much energy we use throughout the day. If your thyroid is not working optimally, weight loss is going to become really difficult. But also, if it's not working optimally, you are going to probably feel really garbage and have perhaps heavier bleeding because it's going to impact your iron storage or iron metabolism. It's going to impact your hair and your hair loss and how you think, your cognition, you know, feel slower, more lethargic, more apathetic. So there's a you know your thyroid really impacts all of the systems of your body there as well, and I'm just talking about weight loss here today as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

So a cute sleep deprivation so remember acute is short term. It's one, one night. It doesn't have a huge effect on your thyroid. So remember that one night of sleep deprivation can actually have a huge effect on your insulin resistance. But to have an effect on your thyroid it needs a little bit longer or more nights of sleep deprivation, but not really a lot. It's only 14 days so five and a half hours per night is partial sleep deprivation. Your thyroid function is going to be impacted after 14 days it's only two weeks. So your thyroid stimulating hormone and your T4, your thyroid hormone levels, actually drop, particularly in female participants at this time. So just two weeks of skimping on sleep can do that. So imagine what months or years could do so, remembering thyroid functions are also interconnected with stress and insulin resistance. So once one factor is out of whack, the rest are soon to follow.

Sarah McLachlan:

It's always important to remember this. Our body is a whole bunch of systems, but they're not like islands in the stream. They are all interconnected and interrelated and impact each other. So imbalance or dysfunction in one will, if not immediately, eventually impact others. Alright, so sleep and weight loss resistance go hand in hand. But I want to know if you know how you implement this knowledge so you can release that weight first up. I want you to remember that sleep is one part of the puzzle pieces if you're not doing the other basics in terms of eating plenty of nourishing whole foods, managing your stress, you know, building muscle mass, and your strength. Getting some extra zeds is not going to make you know, 10 kilos or 20 pounds for my overseas friends vanish magically overnight. It's just not. You know, and that's the thing. There is no instant magic wand, quick- fix pill, powder, or potion that's going to do this for you. Your body needs to be supported and nourished. It needs help adjusting to the hormone fluctuations and changes of perimenopause. One thing is not going to do that your health and how you feel is a total of your genetics, the food that you eat, and your lifestyle. And, yeah, those basics like getting your fresh air, getting some safe sun exposure, drinking plenty of water, eating, nourishing, wholesome foods, most of the time avoiding alcohol.

Sarah McLachlan:

I could totally go sideways here on this thing that I heard about the other day which made me laugh because it's called 75 hard. You might know about it and I was reading through it and I was like that is so interesting that people feel like it's a hard thing or something that they can, you know, focus on a do for 75 days. I looked at it and I was like it's literally how I live my life each day and the things that I encourage my clients and women to do to look after themselves and their health. So I guess it's just another thing that people want to do. But it really plays into that diet mindset and diet culture that we seem to have, where we focus on doing things for a period of time we do all or nothing and not working out what that balance that healthy balance is for us for long-term health and well-being. And so I guess that's what I'm saying to you here is that there's multiple puzzle pieces. There always is. There are multiple factors underlying what's going on for you. This is one part of it. It does have a big impact, so it's important. It is a really big key to get in place.

Sarah McLachlan:

You do want to set up your sleep so that you can have, or be working towards that, supported and nourished body. So what else can you do? I think I might have hinted at it, but I'm going to explicitly say it to you Sleep enough hours. Give yourself a fighting chance at getting somewhere between seven and nine hours. If you're really busy, physically active, or you've got a chronic or underlying health condition, you might need more than nine hours. I don't make the rules and just tell you how they are, so you can try and deny them, but please do tune into what your body needs. So you want to give yourself a fighting chance to get enough hours. If that means that you know that your sleep is broken, or maybe you know that your brain or your body is going to wake you up at five AM, you're going to need to go to bed earlier and just on that, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends. Your body loves it. Your body loves rhythm and routine, particularly around regular eating times and regular sleeping times. So even on the weekends, try not to stay up too late, try to go to bed at a similar time and you'll probably find, after you hit into your forties, that even if you want to sleep in, you're probably still going to wake up at a similar time each day.

Sarah McLachlan:

And another thing I want to say as well is about sleeping the right hours. So a lot of women come and tell me that they don't go to bed till after midnight, one AM. You know, maybe they I don't know. Everyone wants to have some solitude and a lone time, so they stay up later and later. But then you know, you're potentially just scrolling on Netflix or social media in that time as well. So it's not particularly quality alone time, is it? But what I want you to know is that I always say an hour of sleep before midnight is actually worth two hours of sleep after midnight. So, research actually supports me. So I'm not just some random thing that I'm making up, but earlier to bed can help you live longer compared to those that stay up later.

Sarah McLachlan:

Now, the reason that I say I want you to go to bed well before midnight and get some sleep in before midnight is because you want to have a couple of sleep cycles in before your cortisol levels naturally start to rise around two AM. So I recommend my clients are asleep by 10 30 most nights of the week, and if you can the earlier the better there so that you get those two sleep cycles in before two AM. And you know there's a whole nother blog here on quarter blog podcast on cortisol and it's a natural rhythm. But if your cortisol is elevated or dysregulated, you might find that you're waking up around two AM or three AM and having a hard time getting back to sleep. It's like it can be. You know it's not the only reason, there'd be others, but it could be that your cortisol is actually elevated and dysregulated. So your cortisol rises in the early hours of the morning to keep your blood sugar levels up and to help you get up and out of bed and wake up. So if it's too, if your stress levels are high and your cortisol levels are high, that'll right start to rise earlier and be higher than two AM than what it should be.

Sarah McLachlan:

So sleep hygiene is, of course, really important and there's lots of information around about sleep hygiene. I'm going to give you a quick summary now. So sleep hygiene is all about signaling to your brain and your pineal gland that is time in the evening, it's time for sleep. So this is where we want to minimize that blue light that comes from digital devices and your TV and that stimulation, and even, like the LED lights, is a blue form of light. So you either want to turn the lights off, use candles or use lamps with a warm light rather than a white light and, you know, maybe have a warm shower or bath, use some lavender spray or oil in your bath, or have a nice chamomile tea in the evening all things to help you wind down and relax. You know, maybe not exercising too late in the day or the evening and don't eat too late either, please. So quick summary of sleep hygiene. Then I do have more on the blog about sleep and sleep hygiene there as well. So you know, maybe, like I said, Michelle was getting into bed by 10 but she was tossing and turning and waking up multiple times, and maybe that's you as well we want to get you plenty of deep sleep because that's where the rest and rest, the restoration and repair comes in. So if your sleep quality is poor, then I do have a blog called Sleep Better in Perimenopause that has some actionable tips to get better sleep and I will link that in the show notes there as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

So, yeah, adopting those strategies isn't just about improving your sleep quality, it's giving that. They're going to give your body the best chance to adapt to the hormone changes of perimenopause, which is when it's not adjusting and adapting. That's where we get those symptoms. That's what the problem is, and you know one of those symptoms or side effects is weight gain or weight loss resistance, and hopefully, you've realized today that sleep has a big impact on weight loss and weight loss resistance. So Michelle and I you know worked together. We got her in a better state of health. We helped her body better adjust to the changing hormone state of perimenopause. You know, helping her body adjust to that fluctuating and reducing estrogen and progesterone so she could get better sleep, and she did. She was sleeping so much better by the end of our 12 weeks together so, you know, she was feeling more clarity in her head and feeling more energy and feeling better, and she lost 13 kilos too, in that time. So yay for her. That was fantastic.

Sarah McLachlan:

So just to recap before we finish up today sleep or lack of sleep, and even just one night of reduced sleep so remember we're talking about sleep deprivation as being just less than six hours can increase your insulin resistance. So increase your fat storage, reduce your fat burning, increase your muscle loss all of those things contribute to weight gain or not being able to lose weight, regardless of how much exercise you do or, you know, eat less, move more. And the other thing as well is that lack of sleep will impact your thyroid, your overall energy and well-being and metabolism, and your perimenopause symptoms there as well. So it is really important, you know, to give yourself that chance to get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. Working on your sleep is the greatest self-care gift that you can give yourself and those around you as well because you're going to be a lot less irritated and snappy with a bit more sleep under your belt there as well.

Sarah McLachlan:

So don't forget to explore the show notes for my free resources, and I will link to the blog that will give you some more tips about how to get better quality sleep in perimenopause. So thank you so much for joining me today. Remember every nourish your body and to understand what is going on for you in perimenopause is a giant leap towards living your best life now and into the future. So here's to wishing you a peaceful night's sleep and brighter days ahead, and I look forward to speaking to you next time on the Chaos to Calm podcast. It's really common for women over 40 to experience the chaos of changing hormones, mood, metabolism, and energy, but I hope you know now that common doesn't have to equal normal for you or them. You can help others understand they aren't alone in feeling this way and that perimenopause doesn't have to be horrific. By subscribing, leaving a review, and sharing this podcast with other women in their 40s and beyond. Thanks so much for listening and sharing your time with me today in this Chaos to Calm conversation.

Sleep, Stress, and Weight Loss
Impact of Sleep on Weight Loss