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Night Sweats

Nights sweats are very common during menopause. They're hot flushes which happen at night - leaving you drenched in sweat. Here we explain why they happen and the steps you can take to try and manage them.

*"Night sweats are like an internal combustion engine that goes from 1-10 in less then a second. You cannot turn it off and you immediately feel this fire inside you that is overpowering and overwhelming"*

What is a night sweat?

Have you been waking up drenched in sweat? Finding that your bed sheets are soaked and needing to remove all your clothes?

Experiencing excessive sweating at night, commonly known as a night sweat, is a common symptom of menopause. They are very similar to hot flashes which happen during the day.

How do night sweats relate to hormones?

The severity of your night sweats will depend on how your body responds to menopause. While some women may experience close to none, others may get them regularly. This can make sleeping uncomfortable and contribute to tiredness and fatique during the day.

When your hormones, specifically oestrogen and progesterone, are unexpectedly bouncing from high to low during perimenopause your body struggles to find balance. This lack of balance alters the ability of the hypothalamus (the part of the brain which controls bodily processes) to regulate your body temperature. As a result, you become uncomfortably hot and sweaty for short periods of time.

Do night sweats have triggers

Excessive caffeine and alcohol intake are known to worsen menopausal symptoms. Night sweats are more frequent in those that consume higher amounts of caffeine and/or alcohol. So try cutting back if you're really struggling. And then monitor your sweats to see if they improve.

Similarly to alcohol and caffeine, spicy foods have shown to cause more frequent night sweats. They make your body feel warmer and consuming them before bed will act as a trigger. Try limiting your consumption of spicy foods and again, seeing if this improves your night sweats.

Because night sweats are mostly caused by changes in the levels of our hormones, an unbalanced diet and a lack of physical activity could be an additive risk factor worsening your menopausal symptoms. The foods that we eat and the way we treat out bodies have big effects on our hormonal responses. Additionally, being overweight or obese increases your risk of experiencing night sweats.

Some medications can also act as a trigger. Antidepressants, fever lowering medication (pain relievers), diabetic medications and steroids can all cause night sweats. If you are taking any of these medications and having sweats then speak to your doctor.

Lifestyle Changes

It is important to explore lifestyle changes which naturally act to balance your hormones.

By adjusting the temperature in your room at night, you can lower the risk of experiencing a night sweat. Additionally, try taking a cool shower before bed, this can help to lower your core body temperature.

Keep a glass of cold water next to your bed and make sure you have thin sheets. This will allow you to adjust your layers if you wake up in the middle of the night. Cold water can help to lower your core temperature and help you recover from a night sweat.

Higher levels of stress will also trigger night sweats. Try meditating before bed, even if it’s only a quick 10 minute routine. This can help you relax and ease your mind before going to sleep. Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet and including physical activity into your daily routine can help you combat stress and regain balance in your body. Your diet and exercise habits are natural ways which act to re-set hormone levels in your body.

How can HRT reduce night sweats?

HRT has been shown to effectively reduce night sweats and hot flashes in women who can take it. It acts to steady your bouncing hormone levels. HRT comes in many different formats, and it's important to get the right type for your own body.

Because HRT is available in so many different forms and because risk factors differ based on a person's medical history it's important to have a detailed consultation to get the right type. Make sure you leave a consultation understanding the pros and cons of each type of HRT for your body - and that you feel empowered to choose whether this is the right treatment for you.

Explaining night sweats to your partner

Disrupted sleep, due to night sweats, can impact your mood. It can cause you to become irritable and tired throughout the day. It is important that you communicate this to your partner, helping them understand rather than leaving them to assume why you are feeling a certain way. This can lead to frustration and a lack of communication in your relationship.

Let's face it - feeling hot and sweaty at night can also really impact your sex life. In order not to just accept less intimacy in the relationship you should try to discuss how you feel with your partner. It will be easier to find solutions for intimacy when you both understand how each other feel.

Being upfront with your partner by explaining what night sweats feel like, will help them understand. Start the conversation of menopause with your partner sooner rather than later, the quicker they understand how you’re feeling, the more comfortable and open you will be. You cannot expect your partner to read your mind. Open communication will allow you to convey that changes in your mood are due to your symptoms and not them.

References

Medicalnewstoday.com. 2017. Night Sweats: Causes And Treatments In Men And In Women. [online]
Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/296818#causes [Accessed 4 May 2020].

National Sleep Foundation. n.d. Common Causes Of Night Sweats And How To Fix Them - National Sleep Foundation. [online]
Available at: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/four-common-causes-night-sweats [Accessed 4 May 2020].

National Institute on Aging. 2017. Hot Flashes: What Can I Do?. [online]
Available at: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/hot-flashes-what-can-i-do [Accessed 6 May 2020].

Healthline. 2017. Tips For Dealing With Hot Flashes And Night Sweats. [online]
Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/hot-flashes-at-night#your-diet [Accessed 5 May 2020].

Wheeler, R. and Niya Jones, M., 2014. Talking To Your Partner About Menopause | Everyday Health. [online] EverydayHealth.com.
Available at: https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/menopause-resource-center/talking-to-your-partner/ [Accessed 5 May 2020].