Post-menopausal hormone changes do a real number on your hypothalamus, the part of your brain that acts as our body’s thermostat. Add to that the circadian rhythm of hot flashes, and any woman can end up completely drenched before dawn.
Hormonal night sweats are not a problem to be taken lightly. According to Vibrant Nation health expert Dr. Holly Thacker, author of Recognizing and Treating Menopause Symptoms: A 50+ woman’s guide to managing hot flashes, weight gain, mood swings, depression, vaginal dryness, night sweats and other menopause symptoms “Hot flashes tend to be more severe at night, which is the worst time to get them. Not only are you hot and bothered, but you’re losing sleep night after night. Your body temperature normally dips a few notches as you sleep. This small decrease is a big deal if you lack estrogen. As your body temperature drops slightly, your brain says, ‘Time to turn on the heat—it’s getting cold in here.’ The result is a hot flash, which becomes a night sweat when your ‘cooling system’ triggers the sweat glands into action. When you wake up hot and then wet, you eventually get cold.”
If night sweats and hot flashes (which are only night sweats that don’t occur in bed) are causing you grief, be sure to consult your doctor. A medical professional can help you chart the right path to alleviating your menopause symptoms, including hormonal night sweats.
How to reduce hormonal night sweats
Here are some of steps Dr. Holly Thacker recommends for minimizing hormonal night sweats:
- Sleep in a cool room. Lower the thermostat before you go to bed. Warm, stuffy rooms can trigger hot flashes.
- Wear socks to regulate body temperature while you sleep. Many women think that putting on socks will only make them hotter, but that’s not the case. When you warm up peripheral extremities like hands and feet, your body temperature may be more stable.
- Avoid common triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, and cigarettes.
- Buy cotton sheets rather than synthetics.
- Wear natural fibers like cotton to bed. Several Vibrant Nation members recommend sleepwear made with moisture-wicking fabrics from companies like Haralee, Drydreams, Cool Jams, Cool Sets, and NiteSweatz.
- Invest in a ceiling fan, air-conditioning, or even a handheld, battery-operated fan that you can flutter in front of your face if you wake up with a hot spell.
- Purchase a Chillow (“chill pillow”), which is a cooler pillow you can lay your head on. Vibrant Nation members who sleep with Chillows simply love them. One Vibrant Nation member puts hers inside the pillow case with her pillow and says she can’t imagine what she would do without it.
Vibrant Nation members also recommend these tried-and-true remedies for making it through the night without having to change the sheets:
- Shower just before bed. Not only will you be clean and cool when you hit the sheets, the slow evaporation from your damp body will cool it off. In addition, showering or bathing just before bedtime is a relaxing way to end the day.
- Just add water. Water figures in a number of old-time remedies for night sweats:
- In a small washbasin, dissolve 1/2 cup of baking soda in 1 gallon distilled water. Place a wash rag in the solution and leave it beside your bed so you can apply the cool rag to your body when a hot flash occurs.
- Keep a spray bottle of water beside your bed. Add three drops each of rosemary and lavender oil, then spritz yourself for soothing and fragrant relief during heat waves.
- Keep a thermos of ice water at your bedside table along with a small glass for sipping, a washcloth, and a bowl for storing the wet cloth after using it to cool down during a hot flash.
- Chill out. Vibrant Nation member Lynette recommends holding ice to your wrist when a hot flash starts. “It’s weird but it works.”
- Use cooling lotion. A Vibrant Nation member keeps a bottle of Deep Cooling Body Lotion from Emerita on her bedside table and says it is amazingly effective at cooling her down once a hot flash begins.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of mindful breathing when a hot flash comes. Realize that the hot flash will pass. Try breathing with the experience rather than fighting it, which would only create more anxiety – and more hot flashes.
With simple solutions for more comfortable sleep under your belt, you can now tackle a longer-term remedy: modifying your diet to avoid foods that aggravate hot flashes , and enhancing it with foods that ease them.
For more helpful information, download our free special report 5 Proven Remedies to Reduce Hot Flashes During Menopause.