Well…not really, but he is creating the perfect storm of roadblocks.
You see, my furry friend wakes me up anywhere between 2 AM and 5AM to be fed. Then, again at 6 AM and if I am not awake by 7:30 AM, he meows and scratches until I rise and shuffle my way to the kitchen. Yes, I know that I should spray him to train him not to do this and I do when I am awake, but groggy me forgets. But this is just one issue. The bigger issue is how this sleep disturbance affects my health, specifically my weight.
When I was pregnant, I gain 75 pounds, then lost 50 of it. After my heart surgery, I gained 10 pounds back and they have been stubbornly holding on. I lost them when I did the Whole 30 and regained them when I moved back to New York. And now, as I enter menopause, losing weight is harder. I spent 2020 exercising and controlling my diet only to lose about five pounds. Frustrating.
Now preliminary research out of the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, ENDO 2021, suggests that suppressed estrogen and disturbed sleep—together and separately, reduce fat utilization by the body and make losing weight difficult.
Menopause research: How sleep and hormone change affects weight
The study aimed to better understand the role of sleep disturbances and hormonal changes in menopausal weight gain. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston studied 21 healthy premenopausal women (I told you it was preliminary) as they slept uninterrupted for two nights then, during the following three nights, woke them up every 15 minutes. In nine of the participants, they also gave them a drug that temporarily suppressed estrogen to menopausal levels.
What researchers found is that after the three nights of disturbed sleep there was a significant reduction in the rate that the women’s bodies used fat compared to after the normal night of sleep. They also saw a similar reduction in fat utilization when estrogen was suppressed during normal sleep. When sleep and estrogen was disrupted, there was also a reduction in how the body used fat but not more so than either one on its own. “In addition to estrogen withdrawal, sleep disturbances decrease fat utilization,” said lead researcher Leilah Grant, Ph.D. in a prepared statement about the study. “This may increase the likelihood of fat storage and subsequent weight gain during menopause.”
All of this makes me realize that I need to prioritize fixing this kitty situation. When I do, I will let you know.