Stopping Night Sweats in Summer
If you’re bracing yourself for the upcoming heatwave this summer, you might want to keep reading. What’s the biggest problem among women in perimenopause and menopause? Night sweats. Night sweats and hot flashes during the summer are a nightmare. They can interfere with sleep patterns, mood, concentration, and so much more.
So when the weather gets warmer and the night sweats loom in the distance, what can we do to help reduce them?
What Are Night Sweats?
Simply put, night sweats are hot flashes that occur at night, usually when women of perimenopausal and menopausal age are asleep. Night sweats are described as sudden rushes of heat that result in profuse sweating. Women typically feel localized heat in areas like the head, the neck, the chest, and upper arms.
Night sweats are caused by changes to sex hormone levels, primarily estrogen, during the menopausal transition. When estrogen levels begin to decrease, it affects how the brain regulates core body temperature. An area of the brain called the hypothalamus is responsible for maintaining a steady body temperature. As the weather outside gets warmer or colder, the hypothalamus responds to these changes and makes sure that blood flows through the body at the right rate to maintain its temperature.
Without enough estrogens, the hypothalamus can be easily tricked into thinking the body is overheating. When the skin comes into contact with the outside temperature, it sends signals to the brain that the body is heating up. The hypothalamus thinks that the body is overheating, so it sends signals to the body to start releasing sweat onto the skin. This process helps cool the body down from the outside-in. The problem with this is, your body isn’t necessarily always overheating and night sweats can interrupt your sleep patterns.
Night Sweats Can Increase Sleep Deprivation
Perimenopausal and menopausal women are at higher risk of experiencing insomnia. Night sweats can add to this risk. Insomnia is a sleep deprivation condition. Symptoms of insomnia include an inability to fall asleep quickly, waking up periodically throughout the night, and not being able to fall back asleep. Insomnia has a negative impact on brain health, immune health, and can even contribute to issues with maintaining a healthy weight.
How To Reduce Night Sweats
Many women are looking for ways to help manage their night sweats. While some women have more specific needs then others, there are ways to help reduce the impact of night sweats and the potential risk of experiencing them frequently throughout the night.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help reduce night sweats.
Avoid Alcohol Before Bed
Alcohol is a hot flash and night sweat trigger, meaning it can increase the likelihood of night sweats or hot flashes occurring. Due to alcohol’s vasodilation properties (its ability to widen the blood vessels), your heart rate and blood pressure can increase as you’re about to go to sleep. This can cause your brain to think your body is overheating and trigger a night sweat.
So if you are going to drink alcohol in the evening, stick to one glass of wine. Try to avoid hard liquors and cocktails made with sugar syrups as these can contribute to the risk of night sweats. Try not to drink any alcohol at least an hour before bed and be sure to drink a glass of water before you get ready to call it a night. The water will help flush out the alcohol in your system and maintain your core body temperature.
Change Sleep Environment
Sometimes our sleeping environment isn’t up to scratch to deal with night sweats. Bed sheets, airflow, mattresses, and pajamas can all add to the discomfort of night sweats and sleep deprivation. If you sleep with heavy bed sheets and blankets, consider switching them out for bedding made of light cottons or linens to help promote better airflow underneath the covers. If you sleep in pajamas that cling to sweat, consider wearing lighter, more breathable pajamas to bed. Look for light cotton blend pajamas or pajamas with sweat wicking blends.
Also consider using fans placed throughout the room to help get better cross-flows of a breeze at night. Place fans that blow air across the bed, by the bedside table and at the foot of the bed. This will help get a better cross-breeze over the whole body, rather than just one localized area.
Develop New Nighttime Habits
Sometimes night sweats are caused by something trickier to pin down than alcohol and the surrounding temperature of the room. Oftentimes, night sweats are triggered by stress. Finding ways to help manage and reduce that stress could help reduce the likelihood of night sweats and help you get a better night’s sleep.
Developing a new nighttime routine to help with stress relief is a great starting point. Do something relaxing in the evening. It could be journaling or stretching. It could be something creative and artistic or it could be something as simple as a nice face mask. Whatever helps you feel calm can help contribute to that stress relief your body needs before bed.
Another way to help reduce night sweats is to take a cold shower before bed. Cold water against the skin can help lower the body’s surface temperature. The brain won’t be fooled into thinking the body is overheating if the skin’s temperature isn’t bombarded with heat.
Get Better Sleep
Finding ways to support your sleep cycles during summer are crucial to maintaining your health. If you suffer from night sweats, try making these adjustments to help improve your sleep quality. Try to find ways to make your sleeping environment more comfortable for additional help. If you take any additional medications at night for other related sleeping problems like restless leg syndrome, talk to your doctor.