Night sweats frequently trouble women during menopause. It is related to the symptoms of excessive sweating and hot flashes during the day, and grouped together, these are the most common symptoms experienced by menopausal women.
It would be incorrect to think of night sweats as a separate menopause symptom. It is merely a night time manifestation of hot flashes and sweating experienced during the day. But because night sweats occur while women are sleeping or unable to take 'evasive action', they make themselves more noticed.
It is not uncommon for a woman experiencing night sweats to wake up with her bedclothes drenched in sweat. Night sweats are not only embarrassing but also disturb your sleep and that of your partner.
As with hot flashes, women will experience menopausal night sweats and excessive sweating in different ways. Some suffer night sweats quite severely, whereas others don't appear to be bothered by excessive sweating or night sweats at all.
Night sweats, as with hot flashes, are extremely unpredictable. Some women will experience night sweats as their main or only menopausal symptom, and others will find that it is one of a whole host of symptoms.
There is no particular time of night at which night sweats occur. In practice however, they are more likely to happen if your bedroom is too warm. This can sometimes lead to marital differences!
The number of night sweats suffered each night is variable and often unpredictable. The one consolation is that, generally speaking, night sweats are accompanied by hot flashes and they do not last as long.
Night sweats are very commonly associated with menopause, as are hot flashes and excessive sweating. The root cause of these menopause symptoms is probably the same.
As levels of estrogen fall during menopause, the normal functioning of the area of the brain that acts as the body's thermostat (the hypothalamus) is thrown off-course. Although not fully understood, it is believed that the drop in estrogen confuses the hypothalamus, making it think that the body is overheating.
This brings about all the usual responses the body would normally use to keep cool: the skin reddens (the hot flash) and the sweat glands begin to work (excessive sweating and night sweats).
Night sweats can also be experienced by men or by non-menopausal women. Most often, these night sweats do not indicate a health problem, but occasionally, night sweats can be a sign of symptom of something wrong with your health.
If you are a man or a woman who is not going through menopause, it would be wise to seek advice from your doctor if you suffer from unexplained night sweats.
There are a number of factors that can make the problem of night sweats worse:
- It is obvious that night sweats are made worse in a warm bedroom. Turn off the central heating, open the window and bring out the lighter duvet.
- Night sweats can be triggered by sudden changes in temperature.
- Avoid hot drinks, caffeine and red wine at night.
- Avoid chocolate, refined or spicy foods.
- Avoid becoming dehydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Smoking can make night sweats worse.
- Emotional upset and stress increases adrenaline levels, making your sweat glands work harder.
- Using an extract of sage such as sage tablets can provide relief from excessive sweating and night sweats.