Many women tend to confuse normal night sweats with those resulting from menopause. Characterized by excessive sweating in the night, night sweats can be caused by a variety of reasons, including menopause. However, the symptoms of menopausal night sweats (which are typical hot flashes that occur at night) differ greatly from night sweats caused by other factors like a heated environment or heavy clothing.
And while normal night sweats are easy to handle (you will most probably sleep through them), menopausal night sweats can be very severe and can leave the individual with worrisome side effects like excessive sweating (the bed sheets would literally get drenched), anxiety and heart palpitations. Recurrent menopausal night sweats can lead to conditions like insomnia, fatigue, memory impairment, dementia, heart related issues and even loss of libido in the long run.
Menopause and Its Effect on Night Sweats
Menopause is considered to be one of the main triggers of brutal night sweats in ladies above 50 years of age. At the onset of menopause, the ovaries in a woman’s body would stop ovulating (producing eggs). The absence of ovulation would lead to a significant drop in the estrogen levels in the body.
The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that deals with body temperature regulation. Changes in the estrogen levels can have a profound impact on the hypothalamus which is greatly influenced by these hormones. The sudden dip in the estrogen levels in the body would trick the hypothalamus into thinking that the body is overheating.
As a result, the hypothalamus would send immediate signals to the rest of the body, instructing it to cool down immediately. The body would respond accordingly by immediately triggering the sweat glands and dilating the blood vessels. This in turn would lead to what the individual experiences as sudden intense perspiration (in the case of night sweats, this happens at night when the individual is sleeping) which is usually accompanied by some or all of the symptoms mentioned above.
Effective Ways to Deal with Night Sweats during Menopause
Sadly, medications and treatments would have little or no effect on menopausal night sweats and its symptoms. The best way to control the condition is to opt for natural remedies and practices that would help the individual in question understand about these night sweats better in addition to learning to tackle them more effectively in the progress.
Given below are some of the more common remedies for menopausal night sweats.
Identify the Patterns
Identifying the potential triggers of menopausal night sweats is often half the battle won! Once the triggers are identified, all the individual would need to do is stay away from them until she feels better or until the condition is completely under control.
Maintaining a regular journal would be of great help at this stage as it would help the individual joy down the instances when she experienced night sweats. Jotting down information of what she might have eaten or done the night before could help her narrow down on the possible triggers over a period of time (i.e. the factors that are redundant in all the entries could be the potential triggers).
Stay Away from Triggers
Once the potential triggers of menopausal night sweats have been identified (they vary from individual to individual), the individual would need to take extra measures to avoid them at all costs. Accordingly, some of the most common triggers of menopausal night sweats include spicy foods, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, sugary foods and hot beverages etc. Avoiding these foods to a great extent can help the individual deal with night sweats better.
Smoking is also known to be a major cause of night sweats in women nearing menopause. Smoking regularly can lead to frequent and very intense night sweats. Therefore, refraining from smoking or limiting the habit to a minimum can help control menopausal night sweats to a great extent.
Reduce Stress Levels
Increased stress levels can lead to frequent night sweats during menopause (an increase in stress levels would lead to an increase in body temperature). Although there is no sure shot method to eradicate stress completely, individuals suffering from frequent night sweats can learn to control their stress levels in order to cope with the condition better.
There are plenty of techniques that are aimed at reducing the stress levels in the body. These include options like yoga, breathing exercises, relaxation techniques or guided imagery etc. Opting for these techniques would enable the individual to keep a check on her stress levels and control the occurrence of night sweats to a great extent. Deep breathing exercises can also help the individual to sleep off peacefully following particularly intense night sweats.
Opt for More Comfortable Surroundings
Individuals who suffer from frequent night sweats can take some extra measures to make their surroundings (and themselves) more comfortable before going to sleep.
Some of these include drinking cold water or juices (non-sugary and caffeine free) before hitting the bed, wearing a cotton night dress, taking a cool shower before going to bed, using cotton bed sheets, lowering the thermostat, keeping the windows open on cool nights, switching on the fan or air conditioner during warm nights and keeping a jar of water near the bed at night to control sudden night sweats etc.
Regular exercises can help control night sweats that are triggered by menopause. In addition to reducing the symptoms of menopause to a great extent, exercises like walking, yoga, swimming and cardio respiratory routines can lead to weight loss, a factor that can effectively curb night sweats caused by excess body weight or obesity. Therefore, individuals who experience frequent night sweats are urged to exercise for about 30 minutes daily, preferably before bedtime (followed by a shower in cold water) and early in the morning for maximum benefits.
Opt for Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy has become a very popular choice among women to effectively curb the symptoms of menopause, including intense night sweats. The therapy works by balancing the reduced estrogen levels in the body and negating the effects of the same.
Hormone replacement therapy is usually opted for under the guidance of a qualified physician and has its own share of side effects that one must ponder carefully before opting for the procedure. Nevertheless, the procedure can effectively curb frequent night sweats and their persistent symptoms.
Try some Herbal Remedies
There are plenty of herbal remedies that would effectively help individuals deal with menopausal night sweats and the symptoms related to the same. Some of the more common herbs often recommended for night sweats include sage, licorice root (contains estrogen like properties that alleviate the symptoms of menopause, including night sweats), black cohosh (known to contain plant estrogens that help deal with menopausal symptoms like frequent night sweats), dong quai (similar to black cohosh) and macafern (contains phytoestrogens that stimulate the ovaries to produce more estrogen, thereby reducing night sweats to a great extent). It is considered imperative to consult a qualified herbalist before opting for these herbs though in order to avoid unnecessary side effects and complications.