Midlife is perhaps a time when a woman needs sleep the most to feel more vibrant and ward off health issues. But this time of life often brings with it the challenges of insomnia and the discomfort of excessive sweating at night.
Night sweats are one of the most common symptoms of menopause, which typically begins in a woman’s late 40s to early 50s. Scientific studies suggest that as many as 75% of menopausal women experience night sweats.
Night sweat symptoms in women
- excessive sweating during sleep
- feeling cold and clammy
- sudden and intense heat in the upper body or all the body
- irregular heartbeat
While the exact cause of night sweats is unknown, most experts point to hormonal imbalance as the primary reason for this nighttime discomfort.
A night sweat is a hot ﬂash experienced at night that usually causes perspiration in the back of the head and chest and usually disrupts sleep due to dampening sleepwear, pillows, and sheets. A woman may wake up and have to change her clothing and bedding one or more times during the night. Some women may have difﬁculty falling back to sleep setting up a seemingly endless cycle of sleep deprivation several days a week.
What causes night sweats?
Estrogen levels during menopause become erratic and eventually begin a steady and permanent decline. This change in estrogen levels affects the hypothalamus in the brain, which is responsible for the regulation of body temperature. As a result, the hypothalamus often prompts a series of physiological reactions, which women experience as hot flashes or night sweats.
How to stop night sweats
Treatment of night sweats often begins with lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the frequency and severity of night sweats.
Here are some important steps you can take to get a handle on night sweats and general menopausal symptoms:
1. Dietary intake
Hot and spicy foods can definitely make night sweats happen. These foods raise body temperature and may possibly make them even more unbearable. The same goes for acidic foods, hot drinks, caffeine, and processed sugar. All of these should especially be avoided a few hours before bedtime because they may also throw off hormonal balance and make night sweats more likely.
2. Swap out heavy clothing
Before and during menopause, women should avoid heavy clothing especially those made of fabrics that don’t breathe like polyester and nylons that may cause the body to sweat. Cotton and silks that are light and breathable clothing are the best options to ward off excessive sweating.
Also, consider dressing in layers so as your body temperature fluctuates, you can easily drop or add a piece of clothing.
3. Alcohol watch
Alcohol influences hormonal balance and can also increase heat in the body and will make night sweats worse. While many women feel having a drink or two to deal with some of the stress around their menopause, it is often one of the worse things they can do. That one glass of wine at this time can trigger night sweats and other menopausal symptoms.
4. Stress and anxiety load
Uncontrolled stress levels may be one of the biggest reasons for many of the uncomfortable menopausal symptoms including night sweats. Try to avoid situations that raise stress levels which in turn will keep your body cool and calm. You may want to consider taking on some calming practices like walking, deep breathing exercises, yoga and/or meditation.
5. Get needled
A study showed that acupuncture was effective in reducing menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats. The study found the frequency of the symptoms was reduced, and the benefits lasted for 6 months after the treatments ended. This is encouraging news for night sweater sufferers!
6. Medication alert
Many medications can trigger nights sweats and should be brought to the attention of your medical doctor. Medications given for hormone replacement therapy, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and antidepressants can all cause nighttime sweating. In some cases, adjusting the dose can provide vast relief.
Remedies for night sweats
1. Maca is a plant that originates in central Peru and has been used for a long time by indigenous communities as a hormone balancer that can reduce many of the common symptoms of menopause like sleep disruptions, hot flashes, night sweats and depression. The best thing about maca is that it is a natural food and has no side effects. You can get it in powdered form to add to smoothies or in pill form.
2. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and levels typically drop in the body during menopause causing night sweats and hot flashes. Research has demonstrated that magnesium maintains a calm central nervous system, helps manage an overactive mind and encourages relaxation for a deep, restful sleep. Supplementing your diet with foods rich in magnesium like dark green leafy vegetables, seeds and nuts, fish and whole grains can help. I also recommend that my patients up their basic magnesium levels with a good supplement like Magnesium Buffered Chelate which is one of the best-absorbed forms of magnesium.
3. Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil have lignans that are similar to estrogen so are considered important for hormone metabolism. Both are easy to add to your diet even if it is just simply putting 1 to 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed each day into a smoothie or into your cereal.
4. Water keeps you hydrated which regulates your internal body temperatures and can help with night sweats as well as helping the body replenish fluids lost through excessive sweating. A good tip is to drink water just before going to bed and keep a glass handy to relieve symptoms if you wake up with a night sweat. This can help shorten the episode.
Menopause and Insomnia
Sleep problems can also be caused by depression which studies show more than doubles during perimenopause and menopause. Insomnia is one of the primary symptoms of depression. Frequent wake-ups can disrupt REM sleep, which is important for memory and mood regulation. Getting less REM sleep time, as well as deep sleep time can contribute to other symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause including fatigue, mood swings, irritability, and trouble concentrating.
And as if memory lapses weren’t enough, sleep problems can also contribute to weight gain during perimenopause. Feeling fatigued can weaken the resolve to exercise and eat well, and it can also affect appetite. Reduced sleep time can lower levels of leptin, a hormone that signals fullness and at the same time, a lack of getting enough z’s can increase the levels of hormones that promote appetite. This hormonal double punch may not only create a feeling of intense hunger, it may also prevent a satiated feeling after eating.
How to Treat Insomnia
If you are struggling with sleep deprivation, there is hope. There are simple natural things you can do on your own to help if you suffer from hours of lost sleep.
Consider these 11 tips for a better night’s sleep:
1. Develop a sleep schedule
To help regulate your bodies internal clock, set a regular schedule to wake up and fall asleep at the same time every day.
2. Eat dinner no more than 3 hours before bedtime
Don’t eat late at night and avoid simple carbs or sugars as this may stop you from falling asleep or prevent you from getting quality sleep.
3. Limit fluid intake before bedtime
Avoid large amounts of fluids before bedtime to minimize the need to wake up in the middle of the night to make a trip to the bathroom.
4. Limit caffeine and alcohol
Don’t drink caffeinated drinks or alcohol a few hours before you plan to hit the pillow as both can stimulate your body and disrupt your sleep cycle.
5. Physical Activity
Generally, regular exercise can help improve your quality of sleep. However, ensuring high-intensity workouts earlier in the day reduces the chance of over stimulating your body late at night. Rather, you may want to consider exercise alternatives such as yoga or meditation in the evening.
6. Turn off all electronics
It is best to turn off all computer and cell phone devices at least two hours before bedtime. The light emitted from these devices suppresses your melatonin production, a hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. Lowering the level of EMF’s (electromagnetic fields) in your bedroom can help as well.
7. Create a sleep-friendly environment
Keep your room dark and wear an eye mask to block out any light. Don’t keep an office space in your bedroom and never do any office work in the same room where your sleep. This practice helps to mentally set the environment that your bedroom is for sleep time.
8. Wind down before bedtime
This is a good time to start to clear your mind from the daily clutter. Prep for bedtime at least two hours before sleep. Prepare to tune out by turning off the TV and all other computer devices. Start your bedtime ritual like brushing your teeth, reflecting on the day and putting your mind in the right mental zone to get ready for some sweet dreams.
9. Be comfortable
Look for comfortable loose clothing and consider wearing moisture “wicking” pajamas for night sweats. This type of pajama helps to draw the moisture from your skin to the fabric where it quickly evaporates, preventing you from waking up cold and wet and helps you to sleep comfortably.
10. Crate the furry friends
As much as we all love our furry dogs or cats, it is best to spend time with them during the day and keep them off the bed at night. This is because our furry friends tend to move around a lot, jump on and off the bed and can wake us up to go outside which tends to disrupt our quality of sleep.
11. Cut the noise
Creating a quiet environment can make a huge difference in your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep all night. A study showed that pink noise changed excitatory brain waves into a more peaceful state thus improving the quality of sleep. Consider listening to soothing sounds like raindrops, rainforests, ocean waves, and more to get in some quality zZz’s
Getting at least eight hours of sleep every night can have profound effects on your overall health. Quality sleep supports many important functions of the body such as hormonal balance, repairs damaged cells, helps the brain to recharge, and promotes stronger immune and stress response.
When life gets in the way and finding eight hours of uninterrupted sleep is not possible, you may want to consider taking natural supplements to maximize your sleep quality. Users of these products have reported improved quality of sleep!
It is also very common for women to seek natural sleep aids to use for at least a few nights a week when insomnia strikes. I like to recommend a great tasting and easy to take chewable supplement that supports quality sleep and calms down the excessive brain activity that can keep us awake. Insomnitol™ contains melatonin, 5-HTP, vitamin B6, inositol, and l-theanine – all of which help promote the natural ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Melatonin SRT™ is a sustained release formula that provides 6 mg of the hormone melatonin. The sustained release form is helpful if you have difficulty staying asleep through the night. Many factors contribute to low melatonin levels such as normal aging, dietary intake, EMF’s from computer devices and cell phones, and inadequate exposure to natural light. Taking one tablet 30 minutes before bedtime may help to regulate sleep and the body’s rhythmic cycle.
If you are a woman, when it comes to night sweats and all the other menopausal symptoms, you are not alone. I am just a CLICK away to support your journey during the process so contact me today.
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