Night sweats. Hot flashes (flushes?). Do you feel like you’re living in the tropics, without any of the good stuff like poolside cocktails and daily massages?
They are uncomfortable during the day and especially annoying at night when you wake in a pool of sweat (take it from me, this is as gross as it sounds!). And of course night sweats come hand in hand with disrupted sleep, welcome to the world of perimenopause.
Firstly, the science behind night sweats and hot flashes in perimenopause
Most commonly, your night sweats and hot flashes are the result of changing hormone levels in the years leading up to menopause, perimenopause. It’s not entirely clear why these changes cause your body’s thermostat to get a little out of whack, but research does suggest that the decreases in estrogen cause your hypothalamus (your body’s thermostat) to become more sensitive.
Meaning your hypothalamus gets triggered into thinking your body is too warm so it kicks off a chain of events, the hot flash, to cool your body down.
These hot flashes generally last around five minutes or so. Which means during the day you can let them ride out. But when they happen at night, you often find yourself wide awake and super frustrated.
For many women, hot flashes can be a part of their lives for months or even years. Which adds up to a lot of lost sleep and frustration.
A conversation with your GP or preferred health professional will identify if you should consider a treatment, such as HRT or perhaps the use of herbs and supplements, to manage the severity of your hot flashes. Although it’s important to note that these treatments are not suitable for women with a history of certain kinds of cancers or those who have had blood clots, stroke or heart attack.
There are also plenty of ways you can try to manage your hot flashes and to keep them to a minimum.
- Use a diary or journal to track your hot flashes for a few days and look for triggers. Common triggers are alcohol (white wine get’s me the worst), spicy food, hot baths/showers and caffeine. All the good things, am I right?! 😢
- Wear natural fibres as much as you can. Invest in light, breathable pj’s like bamboo and cotton. I changed all of my underwear to cotton and I now wear a lot of linen. Yep, if you’re going to be hanging out in the tropics you might as well embrace the resort wear too!
- I also had ceiling fans installed in our bedroom and my office which have made a huge difference, so find ways to keep your environment cooler too.
- There are many ‘gel cooling’ products available now for your bed too such as pillows and mattress toppers that might be worth a try.
- Smoking is also identified as a trigger, so if you haven’t given up yet, maybe this will be a good enough reason to do so.
Don’t suffer in silence
Most importantly of all, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Try some of the lifestyle changes I’ve noted above to see what works for you and talk to your doctor or your preferred healthcare provider.
Safe and effective treatment is available so raise your voice and ask for help when you need it.