Is it the hormonal night sweats that are keeping you awake, or is it insomnia? It’s important to make the distinction, because your estrogen treatment will help one, but not the other.
Living with hot flashes
Every pharmaceutical company, physician and menopausal woman wants to learn how to stop hot flashes. They are the most common menopause symptom and a frequent source of embarrassment and discomfort for women (not to mention, a general bane for all society). They strike without warning, even while you’re asleep and completely unconscious. When this happens, hot flashes are called hormonal night sweats.
Many experts say that women can control and stop hot flashes. Causes and triggers hot flashes can be isolated and managed to prevent attacks. A variety of techniques may be used to put a halt to hot flashes — women can avoid certain foods, practice meditation and even drink ice water immediately to cool off. But when you’re sleeping, you don’t know you’re having a hot flash until it’s too late.
Studying hot flashes and hormonal night sweats
Hot flashes and hormonal night sweats are symptomatic of menopause, caused by the changing estrogen levels in your body. A new study shows that estrogen supplements can help to prevent hormonal night sweats in women who wake up three times or more nightly from hot flashes. But… It only works if it’s the night sweats keeping you awake, not general insomnia.
Estrogen is the most effective method used to stop hot flashes, but hormone replacement therapy (abbreviated to HRT) raises the risk of certain cancers in women. Some vitamin supplements deliver plant-based estrogens into the female system (Remifemin is one example), but these are not as widely effective for menopausal women.
In a study funded by Duramed Research, 145 women who experienced hormonal night sweats that wakened them during the night took a mixture of synthetic estrogens. One-third took a high dose (.625 milligrams daily), while one-third of participants took a lower dose of .3 milligrams per day. The final third of the group were given a placebo pill with no estrogens in it whatsoever.
The group who received the highest dose of estrogen experienced the most significant results, waking up 5 times fewer each week because of hormonal night sweats. The group receiving the lower dose of estrogen were awakened four times less weekly by hormonal night sweats. Approximately one-third of the women in the study who received estrogen no longer experienced hormonal night sweats while taking the pills.
As for sleep, quality and quantity, as well as feelings of fatigue during the day, this remained unchanged among the women in the study. The full results of the study have been published in the Obstetrics and Gynecology journal. Estrogen may stop hot flashes and hormonal night sweats, but even this may not improve your nightly sleep.
Find out what else works to provide relief in our free special report, 5 Proven Remedies to Reduce Hot Flashes During Menopause.