What to know about night sweats, women!
First what are they? The name is pretty self-explanatory. Night sweats are exactly what you think they are. Sweating at night, more specifically, sweating while asleep. For women in perimenopause and menopause, this is a common (and unfortunate) symptom to deal with. And, if you are more familiar with hot flashes (or flushes), night sweats are basically hot flashes that kick off when asleep. Night sweats occur because blood vessels expand and contract causing sudden waves of heat spreading through the body. This triggers increased body temperature, sweating and rapid heartbeat. Sometimes it’s causes sweating so extreme that it soaks pajamas and sheets.
This is one of the common symptoms for women going through perimenopause and menopause: night sweats. Women naturally experience changes to the normal hormone levels and hormone cycles. Basically, these get a little whacky as they move towards a new normal in later post-menopause. Specifically, estrogen levels become volatile (levels are changing) and unpredictable (hard to know when they are going to change). Over time, the average estrogen levels are getting lower. Though research has not shown conclusively why or how hot flashes (and night sweats) happen, there is indication that they are triggered by drops in estrogen as well as low levels of estrogen.
Night sweats are disruptive in and of themselves. Waking up soaked in sweat is no fun for anyone. It is particularly disruptive because it breaks up our overnight sleep. When it happens persistently, it can cause insomnia, another symptom, besides night sweats, women experience during perimenopause and menopause.
What do about night sweats.
First, don’t fret about night sweats. Women around the world have dealt and are dealing with this symptom. There are three ways to look at the problem and different ways to deal with them.
>> Addressing the cause.
>> >> Drops in estrogen. If we believe the cause is volatile estrogen, it may be useful to get rid of excess estrogen levels so that the drops are so extreme. Veggies like kale, brussels sprouts and broccoli contain a phytochemical that metabolizes estrogen (or get it here. It’s included in Formula 4|5
>> >> Liver function. This is a new concept. Are you ready? In Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), it is believed that the liver does ist work between 1am and 3am every night. Many TCM practitioners believe that an overworking liver wakes people up? What taxes the liver? Poor diet (fatty foods, refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol, etc) and stress (adrenaline and cortisol reduce glycogen stores and one of the liver’s job is to managing glycogen stores). Basically, modern life stresses the liver. Milk thistle is a traditional plant medicine that has tons of research backing it up for promoting liver health. (it’s also in Formula 4|5)
>> >> Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the use of synthetic estrogen sometimes with a synthetic progesterone (sometimes just estrogen alone) to help regulate and keep the estrogen levels and progesterone levels steady as over time. There have been positive aspects: many women report that HRT is very effective and offer quick relief of symptoms. However, there are risks and we are still in the process of understanding what they are and how it pertains to what to take, how much to take, how often and how long. It still remains very controversial, and we're still working on more sophisticated and deeper research to determine how safe and effective this treatment is.
>> Addressing things related to the cause:
>> >> Diet (eat your kale!) and exercise, of course!
>> >> Meditation (which will balance out stress and stress responses in the nervous system)
>> >> Making sure you sleep environment is conducive to sleep
>> >> >> Light comfortable pajamas
>> >> >> Layered bedding
>> >> >> Cooling pillows
Night sweats most likely go away after a few years after women have reach the later stage of post-menopause. By this point, later post-menopause, the body has found a new normal and for most women symptoms resolve. Unfortunately, there are women who experience persistent night sweats for the rest of their lives thought they usually lessen in severity.
With that, self-awareness and self-care will go a long way as women journey through menopause.
Pro tip: Night sweats impact a full night's sleep. If you find yourself awake and need help falling back to sleep, we've created an audio track for deep and complete relaxation. We call it our Sleepytime track as part of our MIGHTY Tools for Better Living. Click here to check it out.