Menopause - Night Sweats
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Manging Night Sweats During Menopause
Night sweats, medically termed "sleep hyperhidrosis" are the night-time equivalent of the hot flush. Most women who experience night sweats also have day-time hot flushes but the reverse is not always true.
Night sweats vary in intensity with some women waking up drenched in perspiration and needing to change night clothes and bedding. Research suggest that as many as 75% of menopausal women experience night sweats.
Common symptoms of night sweats include sudden and intense heat, irregular heartbeat, nausea, flushing, chills, and headaches.
Night Sweat Causes
Symptoms of menopause like hot flushes are tied up with changing hormone levels. Here's a step by step guide:
Your ovaries produce less oestradel (the active form of oestrogen) which causes a drop in the amount of oestradel reaching the brain.
Less oestradel in your brain causes a decrease in your endorphin levels. Endorphins are your body's natural pain killers and mood regulators.
Lower levels of endorphins cause your brain to think that something is wrong, so it sends out a burst of adrenaline, the hormone that triggers the fight or flight response.
The burst of adrenaline causes your body to kick start into 'ready-for-anything' mode by increasing your heart rate (causing heart palpitations and flutters), raising your blood pressure and dilating your blood vessels.
With regards to night sweats the change in oestrogen levels in the brain confuses the hypothalamus, the area of the brain that regulates temperature. The hypothalamus responds as if it senses an increase in body temperature and initiates a series of events in an attempt to cool you down. This includes widening the blood vessels to release heat (which you feel as a hot flush) and triggering the sweat glands.
Treatment for Night Sweats
As with hot flushes it's worth considering a natural course as a first step. This can include slef help measures, small life style changes, diet and natural supplements.
- Keep your bedroom fairly cool and if possible leave a window open.
- Avoid nightclothes or bed linen made of nylon or polyester; cotton fabrics will be more comfortable.
- Keep a bowl of tepid water and sponge next to your bed so that you can cool yourself down easily. Never use cold water as it can cause you to overheat. Allow the water to evaporate off your skin - as it does so it will take the heat from it and make you feel cooler.
Slow rhythmic breathing has been shown to reduce both hot flushes and night sweats. Relaxation breathing may also help you get back to sleep after waking.
Avoiding certain foods can reduce the frequency and intensity of night sweats and hot flushes. Try and avoid sugary, salty, spicy dishes, chocolate, alcohol, coffee tea and cola drinks. Try and include soya based products, such as soya sauce, tofu and citrus fruits â€“ all of which have oestrogenic properties. In addition try to avoid eating large meals just before going to bed. If possible try to have your main meal during the day and have a light meal in the evening.
- Findings from a Pen State study showed that improving cardiovascular fitness can recue menopause symptoms. The types of exercises that helped included walking and yoga.
- Other research has suggested overweight women have more severe hot flushes and night sweats than those of normal weight. Being active and losing weight not only reduces night sweats but will also have a positive effect on all aspects of your health and wellbeing.