Is Poor Sleep Making You Fat in Menopause?

Is Poor Sleep Making You Fat in Menopause?

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Are menopause and poor sleep

Putting weight on you?


Let’s face it, when we rank the menopause symptoms that really make life a challenge, poor sleep usually gets listed in the top three. Weight gain is usually up there also.


A study presented at the Endocrine Society by Leilah Grant, PhD and her colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston studied 21 healthy pre-menopausal women to find out if  there is a connection between poor sleep and weight gain in menopause.


Here’s how they did it: The women in the study were given 2 nights of good, uninterrupted sleep, followed by 3 nights of very interrupted sleep that was achieved by waking them up with an alarm every 15 minutes for 2 minutes each time. That’s like the worst hot flashes.


After that, 9 of the 21 pre-menopausal women in the study were given a medication called leuprolide to temporarily lower their estrogen levels to menopausal levels. After low estrogen levels were reached, the same study design of 2 good nights of sleep followed by 3 terrible nights of sleep was repeated. Then the researchers studied all the women to see how well their bodies were able to break down fat for energy.


Here’s what they found: After 3 nights of disturbed sleep, all the women’s bodies were significantly less able to break down and use fat compared to after 2 nights of normal sleep. When estrogen was lowered by the medication to menopausal levels, the woman had a similar reduction in fat utilization, even in women who had a normal night of sleep. The study also found that the combination of low estrogen and poor sleep also reduced fat utilization, but no more than low estrogen or poor sleep alone.



Dr. Grant was quoted as saying, “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.”



Here is the take away: Some women worry that taking estrogen may cause them to gain weight. But this study proves that in fact, the exact opposite is the case. When estrogen levels drop and sleep is affected, women store store more fat, and gain a muffin top.  So the answer to the riddle at the beginning of this article is, “Yes; the low estrogen associated with menopause and poor sleep are putting weight on you.” Poor sleep is one of the really important menopause symptoms.



Sleep disturbances may contribute to weight gain in menopause. Endocrine Society. Published March 20, 2021. Accessed April 8, 2021.,-Washington%2C%20DC%20March&text=Addressing%20sleep%20symptoms%20during%20menopause,the%20Endocrine%20Society’s%20annual%20meeting.

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