The Weight Series: Why a better night’s sleep can help with weight control

Melbourne-based menopause specialist Dr Khan has kindly let us share her Weight Series. This is the fifth story in the series. 

Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia which is exacerbated by low and/or fluctuating hormones.

Sleep disturbance is linked to weight gain due to an imbalance of hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin.

Lack of sleep increases ghrelin which increases our appetite and decreases leptin which makes us feel full. Cortisol is also stimulated leading to insulin resistance and weight gain.

Dr Khan
Dr Khan, Menopause Specialist

To improve sleep, we need good levels of melatonin – our sleep hormone. The main reason for reducing levels of melatonin is stress and blue light from digital screens – both of these stimulate cortisol.

Remember, cortisol is our “fight or flight’ hormone, protecting us from threat, keeping us alert and awake by suppressing melatonin.

Try to have a good evening routine for better sleep:

  • Avoid screens at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Eat your dinner at least three hours before bedtime.
  • Engage in a relaxing activity, hobby or conversation.
  • Try meditation, yoga, or mindfulness.
  • Gratitude journaling.
  • Try wearing blue light blockers (orange tint glasses) to improve melatonin levels.
  • Dim lights, listen to relaxing music and light an aromatherapy candle.
  • Sleep at the same time every night.

Melatonin supplementation can help in the short term, but the goal is to optimise levels naturally.

HRT will stop the night sweats, restless legs and improve quality of sleep.

Melbourne-based Dr Fatima Khan is highly skilled and experienced menopause specialist who genuinely cares about our hormonal health.