Get in Bed with Your Hormones for Optimal Weight in Menopause

bedtimeThis post is all about sleep’s role in health, happiness, and my own reveal about what my recent Ironman training experience proved to me about sleep.  Great sleep starts with a great mattress. I sleep on a Sleep Number bed, which has been a game-changer for #hotnotbothered. 

Unwelcome side effects of menopause include weight gain, lack of muscle tone, and brain fog. Fat—belly fat specifically—is a common complaint among midlife women regardless of fitness conditioning. Sleep disturbances are also more common starting in midlife, and that is no coincidence. Diet and exercise may not be to blame.

If you’re one of the 35-60% of women in peri- and post menopause who report poor sleep, the secret to giving menopause symptoms the slip lies in a better bedtime.

During sleep, you produce key hormones that help you maintain lean muscle and reduce fat. You’ll optimize production of testosterone and growth hormone, and reduce the negative effects of sleep. In fact, a study of groups of very similar women in a weight loss program who did exactly the same exercise and nutrition protocol, the women in the group of long sleepers (8.5 hours) lost more weight, and more of it was fat compared to short sleepers (5.5 hours).

If you keep all things the same and you improve your sleep habits, you may just find those jeans zip up a little easier. You’ll also reduce the risk of heart disease due to an expanding waistline.

If you suffer from hot flashes and night sweats that interrupt your sleep, you’ll find some irony in the fact that sleep can help improve your vasomotor regulation. You’d probably love to comply with getting more sleep, yet find the suggestion laughable. The key to balancing those prior mentioned hormones is tucked in with another hormone, melatonin.

Melatonin regulates sleep. Typically, production increases at night when darkness falls, but as we age, our bodies produce less melatonin. During menopause, melatonin tanks significantly more.

Establish good habits around your sleep time to help boost your melatonin naturally. First, set the time you wake up and go to sleep and stick to it. A regular sleep cycle is a must. Say goodbye to the snooze button. Then, make a few simple tips a part of your routine.

bedtimeGet a Better Bedtime Hormone Boost

Light suppresses melatonin production, so reduce your exposure to light at night. Keep your bedroom room dark. Avoid blue light by powering down electronics in the evening. In the morning, you want exposure to light as soon as you’re awake. Natural light is best, but if that’s not possible, turn lights on. Check out this light from Sleep Number that simulates real sunlight!

Moderate-to-intense exercise boosts vasomotor regulation and may keep hot flashes away. Low intensity exercise does not provide the same benefit. That’s not to say you should not go for that evening stroll. Just be sure that earlier in the day you fit in something that gets your heart rate up or results in fatigue in the weight room, like interval training.

Even 10 minutes of walking can enhance sleep quality, but if you’re already exercising regularly, you’ll benefit from consistent short bouts of higher intensity sessions.

Eat a few carbohydrates for dinner to help you relax and prepare for sleep (thanks to serotonin). It’s counterintuitive, but if you’ve parted ways with carbs, you might find bringing high quality carbs back to dinner can help you lose weight through better sleep.

Once you’ve had your romance with the potato or quinoa, close the kitchen. If you allow 2-3 hours between dinner and bedtime you’ll sleep much better. Your body has a lot of repair to do overnight and if you’re digesting food it cannot do so to the level it needs.

This post was sponsored by the good people at Sleep Number. All thoughts and opinions are my own, as always.

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Circumference outside of both arms, at the armpit

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