MyMT™ Blog

The powerful connection between your sleep and weight management in menopause.

If you added up all the nights in the week that you lie awake between 2-4am, how many would that be? Is it 5 or more? I’m asking you this, because when I’ve presented my Masterclass on Menopause seminars throughout 2018, this is the question that women groan at the most. And as I’ve travelled throughout New Zealand and Australia in 2018, the show of hands tells me that hundreds of women are losing precious immune-boosting sleep as they go through menopause.

Are you one of these women too?

Because if you are and you are struggling with your weight gain during menopause, then I want you to come on board with me if you can, on my January promotion. I remember only too well what it feels like not to sleep night after night. I know myself that the minute you’re awake, your brain starts going into ‘busy-mode’ too. So, what do you think about when you are lying awake at 3am? Do you plan your day ahead or are you just lying there despairing?

I know that all I could think of was that there was going to be another day that I couldn’t enjoy my exercise or think properly, because I was so darned tired. At the time I had no idea that my hot flushes and night sweats were also worse because I wasn’t sleeping. I also didn’t realise that not sleeping was blocking my ability to lose my menopause weight.

Modern science confirms that when we don’t sleep all night, especially between the crucial fat-burning hours of 2-4am, then we don’t lose weight. However, the double-whammy for us ladies during menopause is that this interrupted sleep also causes more hot flushes throughout the day and leaves many women sweating throughout the night. It’s tough.

It’s why I loved getting this email from Paula. Before coming on board she was waking up every night around 2-3am with night sweats.

 

Because here’s the thing … when you aren’t SLEEPING all night, you aren’t getting enough secretion of two other important hormones necessary for repairing and healing your body. Growth Hormone and Testosterone.

These two hormones are crucial for repairing muscle and restoring your immune system. This is why interrupted sleep in menopause throws our muscle-healing and fat-burning capability out the door. It’s why a lot of women who are doing lots of exercise and not sleeping, often develop restless legs and aching joints and muscles.

When we aren’t sleeping properly, and we aren’t recovering, then this impacts one of our stress hormones called cortisol.  When cortisol levels stay high, this prevents overnight fat-burning and muscle repair. This is why the most powerful thing I do for you when you come on board into the MyMT programmes, is to get you sleeping all night. If you aren’t sleeping well, then this is the first breakthrough you need to focus on for halting any further fat-gain as well as for helping you hold onto muscle.

I was so excited for her when she sent me this email.

Now that she’s conquered her sleep, her metabolism is also changing ready for the fat-burning she wants to achieve. So, when this came through just this morning, I knew she was on her way to the fat-loss she desires.

If this is you and every day you are existing in a fog of fatigue, then please have a read when you get time and look at coming on board with me if you can. Un-raveling the science of not sleeping as we transition into our new hormonal environment in menopause took me hundreds of hours of study, but I was so determined to understand why I wasn’t sleeping, because I knew from the emerging weight loss science, that sleep and fat loss go hand in hand. Even more than exercise and different dieting regimes. Add to this, our changing hormonal environment in menopause and the subsequent loss of muscle as we age (called sarcopenia) and it becomes a ticking time-bomb for un-necessary cardiac and metabolic health changes that our mother’s generation have already discovered.

Insufficient sleep can make you too tired to work efficiently, to exercise, or to eat healthfully, says a recent Harvard Report (2017). But I think those of us transitioning through menopause, already know that don’t we? Perhaps what’s even more scary is that the Harvard Report says that one in 20 American drivers admit to falling asleep while driving in the previous month – I’m wondering how many of these drivers are exhausted women going through menopause?

But although we kind of get by on a day-to-day basis without sleep, the issue for me and millions of women, is more about the accumulation of loss of sleep and the effect this has on our weight and our health. Not sleeping leads to ongoing inflammation in our muscles, joints, pancreas and heart. So, for many women who are exercising daily, this inflammation impacts on their ability to do the exercise that I know helps them cope with ‘life’! I know this, because women on my research studies were telling me!

What’s more, the increasing inflammation sends us into the cascade of chronic health changes that hit us in our post-menopause years, including auto-immune health problems.

I still remember when I couldn’t sleep night after night. I was up and down like a yo-yo and it didn’t help that hubbie was lying there snoring blissfully unaware of my despair. The supplements didn’t help nor did the HRT. Although I knew that not sleeping is the slippery slope to fibromyalgia and other auto-immune diseases, the one I was most concerned about, was the weight gain. This is because when we don’t get our deep, healing sleep, our hormones that help us to burn fat overnight become disrupted too.

Scientists divide sleep into two major types: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep or dreaming sleep, and non-REM or quiet, healing sleep. Sleep specialists have called non-REM sleep “an idling brain in a movable body.” During this phase, thinking and most bodily functions slow down, but movement can still occur, and a person often shifts position while sinking into deeper stages of sleep. When we go to bed and start to fall asleep, both phases last around 4 hours or more.

After your REM sleep, comes your deeper sleep, or your non-REM sleep. This is characterised by slow brain waves called delta waves. When your brain slows down, you allow your body to enter deep sleep. Breathing becomes more regular. Blood pressure falls, and the pulse slows to about 20% to 30% below the waking rate. The brain is less responsive to external stimuli, making it difficult to wake up. This deep sleep is really important for us to have during menopause, because this is the time that your body heals, renews and repairs cells and tissues. According to the Harvard Sleep Report (2017), researchers have also detected increased blood levels of substances that activate your immune system, raising the possibility that deep sleep helps the body defend itself against infection. Just as deep sleep restores your body, scientists believe that REM or dreaming sleep restores your mind, perhaps in part by helping clear out irrelevant information. Blood flow is directed less toward your brain, which cools measurably. At the beginning of this stage, the pituitary gland releases a pulse of growth hormone that stimulates tissue growth, muscle repair and overnight fat-burning.

However, if we are lying awake between 2 and 4am, then this release of growth hormone does not reach the threshold it needs to for healing and repairing our body. Not good for those of you who are avid exercisers as well and need to build and retain muscle or allow your body to recover from your bouts of exercise. When growth hormone is low, our blood sugar hormone called insulin remains high. So too, does another stress hormone called cortisol. The combination of high insulin and high cortisol competes with your sleep hormone, called melatonin which is low as well. The lower that melatonin is overnight, the more awake you feel. The more awake you feel, the busier your brain …. night after night, it happens … and over time, your brain and your hormones have reached their ‘new normal’. It becomes routine for you to be awake at night.

The result? Yes, you already know it – foggy brain, fatigue, loss of motivation, irritability and of course, weight gain.  

So, will you let me help you get back sleeping all night again? If you are putting on weight or you are feeling constantly cranky, irritable and exhausted, then let me help you turn this around. Women on my 12 week programmes love their learning in the first online module they receive, which is simply called ‘SLEEP ALL NIGHT’. For those with poor gut health, they also love discovering that our gut is also on a 24 hour night/day rhythm, so as they learn to sleep all night, their gut health starts to improve too.

What women on the MyMT programmes discover, [as I did myself], was how to turn around their Circadian Rhythms to match their changing hormonal levels during menopause. The term ‘Circadian’ means “about a day.” This internal clock, which gradually becomes established during the first months of life, controls the daily ups and downs of biological patterns, including body temperature, blood pressure, and the release of hormones. Circadian rhythms make people’s desire for sleep strongest between midnight and dawn, and to a lesser extent in mid-afternoon. Our changing menopause hormones cause disruption to our normal circadian rhythms, so as we transition into or through menopause, then it’s really important to restore this biological rhythm and make adjustments to get us back sleeping all night.

If we don’t, then over time, our brain and body start to read this 3am ‘awake’ period as ‘normal’. When this happens, your other hormones start to adjust and you accumulate more fatigue, muscle soreness, headaches, weight gain and more.  Your immune health suffers and you keep stacking on the belly-fat – despite all the exercise you are doing or any new diet that you are on. That’s because your Circadian Rhythm affects nearly every organ in your body.

The good news is that with the knowledge you gain on the MyMT programmes (‘Circuit-Breaker’ for thinner women wanting to sleep all night and remove their menopause symptoms or get off medications for menopause they are on OR ‘Transform Me’ for women wanting to sleep all night and lose their belly-fat), you can turn this around – even if you are through menopause and into your post-menopause years. I step you through exactly what to do to lose weight and it all starts with turning around your sleep, liver health, hot flushes and more. When you follow my simple and powerful step-by-step process, which is all set out in your learning hub on the MyMT website, then your menopause transformation begins. It’s all so powerful when you know how. 

Not getting enough sleep makes you more likely to gain weight. The link appears to be especially strong among women during menopause and children. Lack of sufficient sleep tends to disrupt hormones that control hunger and appetite, and the resulting daytime fatigue often discourages you from exercising or eating healthily. I remember those days so well!

This year, hundreds of women have joined me on the MyMT programme. I’m so grateful that they have because now they’re experiencing the excitement and renewed energy from sleeping all night again and beginning to get back to the weight that they feel at their best. 

If you would like to take back control of your menopause symptoms and weight, then please join me on my 12 week weight management programme called ‘Transform Me’ any time from now throughout January, 2019. With savings of $49NZ AND a BONUS month of my coaching, the programme is $83NZ a month for 3 months, then you stay on my coaching for another month. My fabulous programme is all you need to help you transition through menopause and get your sleep, health, hormones and your happiness back on track again. 

To learn what this fabulous online programme gives you, then please click here – it’s all online and you can work through the step-by-step plans that I have for you, at your own pace. In your learning hub are webinars and videos, handouts, a cookbook and more! Please just type the words JANUARY19 into the Buy Now button on the website. I would love you to discover how to sleep all night, reduce your symptoms in menopause and get back to feeling like the ‘old-you’ again. I’m there with you every step of the way.

Have a wonderful Christmas and if you would like to email me with your questions, I would be pleased to answer them for you. Just email me on wendy@mymenopausetransformation.com

Wendy Sweet, PhD/ Women’s Healthy Ageing Researcher & MyMT Founder & Coach.

“If you have ever wondered if there was a clear easy plan to follow to sleep all night, reduce hot flushes and prevent or reduce your weight gain during menopause, then ‘welcome’ – you’re in the right place now.”

Discover how either of my two Menopause Transformation programmes might help you too or take my Symptoms Quiz below… 

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