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Beat Nighttime Hot Flashes: Tips for a Cooler Sleep

Tara Youngblood Dec 29, 2022

How to reduce hot flashes at night

Sleeping hot and waking up sweaty are two common complaints often heard during perimenopause, menopause, and beyond that can make getting quality sleep difficult. And if you’re like so many women experiencing these life changes, sleeping cool can be incredibly challenging.

Most women entering this stage of life are painfully aware of it every day (and night). In fact, one of the first indicators of perimenopause is sleep loss; hormones start to fluctuate during this time, disrupting nighttime rest for most. Hot flashes during the day, night sweats during the night. Life can start to feel a little unbearable for some with severe symptoms.

On average, these symptoms begin when a woman is around 45 years old and could last for many years, well past the time when menopause is reached in full.

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What is a Hot Flash?

Hot flashes are characterized by a sudden feeling of warmth in the upper body, sweating, and reddened skin, as in blushing, and are common during menopause.

These flashes can start during perimenopause, continue through menopause and postmenopause, and even persist indefinitely. Hot flashes result from an imbalance in the hormones that regulate body temperature. They can bring on perspiration, also known as night sweats.

Treatments can involve medications, non-hormonal therapies, or life alterations.

Hot Flash Statistic: More than 80% of women experience hot flashes during menopause. [1]

Symptoms of Hot Flashes

Hormonal changes, emotional stress, physical exertion, and certain medications most often trigger them.

The following can occur:

  • Rapid heart rate, faster than usual
  • An overwhelming feeling of anxiety
  • Feeling of warmth spreading through your face, chest, and neck.
  • Upper body perspiration
  • Sudden heat emanating from your body
  • Tingling sensation in your fingers

How Long Do Hot Flashes Last?

Hot flashes differ in occurrence and strength among women. They can range in duration and intensity from brief and mild to severe enough to interfere with daily life. The intensity and frequency can vary among women and can last anywhere from one to five minutes.

The frequency of hot flashes at night varies among women, many of whom report daily occurrences. Generally, these symptoms last over seven years, with some cases lasting a decade or more.

Read More: Best Ways to Support Your Partner During Menopause

What Causes Hot Flashes?

Menopause

The most common cause of hot flashes is due to menopause, the natural cessation of menstruation that typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. It marks the end of a woman’s reproductive period and is a normal part of aging for women.

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Some women (estimated 15%) glide through this time with no typical menopausal symptoms at all. For the other 85%, the transition can bring on unbearable hot flashes and night sweats, sleep disturbances, brain fog, and many other symptoms.

The most infamous symptom associated with menopause quite often has the most damaging effects. HOT FLASHES! It affects so much of a person’s day-to-day life.

Read More: The Benefits of Sleeping at Cooler Temperatures

Hot flashes cause women to suffer from insomnia and wake up in a pool of sweat. This is uncomfortable and leads to problems throughout the day caused by a lack of quality rest.

Additionally, hot flashes can be triggered by several other factors, including:

Stress & Anxiety:

Feeling stressed or anxious caused by situations or events can trigger hot flashes.

Alcohol and Caffeine

Consuming alcohol or caffeine can trigger hot flashes in some.

Tight Clothing

Wearing tight clothing or being in a warm environment can also trigger hot flashes.

Spicy Foods

Some people find that spicy foods can trigger hot flashes.

Smoking

Smoking can also contribute to hot flashes.

Bedroom Environment

Sleeping in a hot bed or bedroom can result in hot flashes and night sweats.

If you are experiencing hot flashes and night sweats, a good way to begin recognizing your triggers would be to start a journal to help understand the occurrence and severity.

You'll be able to track flashes, including what you were doing, drinking, eating, wearing, or feeling when they occur. After several weeks, you may see a pattern that can help you to avoid specific triggers.

Menopause hot flashes

Why Are Hot Flashes Worse At Night?

If you or a loved one are dealing with menopausal hot flashes and night sweats, you probably want to know why it seems that those awful hot flashes are worse at night. There’s a simple explanation for this.

At night, hormone levels can swing more drastically, resulting in more severe hot flashes, the sudden increase of body temperature, and rapid heartbeat all can play a role in making sleep more difficult.

Hormone Levels Spike

At night while you are sleeping, it’s almost impossible to notice an episode coming on, which sometimes results in much more severe hot flashes. The severity of nighttime hot flashes can leave clothes and bedding soaked.

This is mostly due to the main female hormone, estrogen. Estrogen, as a woman ages, rises and falls more unevenly during sleep, becoming more erratic in levels during perimenopause.

Warmer Body

Hot flashes can occur when your body is warmer. For example, if you're sleeping under warm sheets or blankets or if the room temperature is warmer than normal.

Alcohol and Food

Caffeine, spicy foods, and alcohol already increase your body temperature, making hot flashes even more intense at night.

Body Fat

There is some evidence that body fat during menopause is associated with subsequent menopausal symptoms. Studies have shown that weight loss may reduce hot flashes and night sweats. [2]

Sleepme Menopause Study Results

Sleepme was recently involved in a new Wake Forest University menopause study [3] which investigated the role between colder sleep and the worst symptoms of menopause: hot flashes and night sweats.

How to Cool Down Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

In short, because menopause causes hot flashes, the symptoms cause a lack of sleep! Creating a plan of action can decrease the impact of hot flashes – and decrease the impact of menopause.

Below we’ve listed several strategies that may help lessen and manage the severity and frequency of hot flashes during menopause:

Cooler Sleepwear

Try to stay in a cool environment and wear loose, lightweight clothing. Additionally, select the right clothing for the bed. That giveaway-free polyester T-shirt isn’t the best option when it comes to getting a good night’s rest. Cotton is one of the best breathable options in order to stay cool.

This can also include bedding. Similar to cooler clothing, having the right bedding materials will ensure you’re comfortable and cool while asleep.

Did You Know: Cotton and bamboo sheets provide breathability.

Create a Cool Sleep Environment

Make sure your room is ready for sleep. This includes getting your room to a comfortable temperature, dark, and quiet. Avoid bright lights or electronics.

Bed Cooling System & Mattress Pad for Hot Flashes

Explore purchasing the Chilipad Dock Pro sleep system. The ultimate cooling mattress for a perfect sleep climate, no matter your body’s heat load or room temperature. Easily select a temperature as low as 55ºF to help cool your body. Sleeping in a cooler bed will reduce hot flashes and night sweats, improving your overall sleep.

Did You Know: The key to combating the hot flashes that accompany these three menopausal stages and keep women from getting great sleep is controlling your body's temperature.

Read More: Greater Than 50% Reduction in Hot Flash Severity and Frequency

My Bride suffered from extreme hot flashes due to Menopause. Once we installed this product, she has not experienced one during the night. An awesome product.

Lane S.

Sleepme Customer

Avoid Triggers:

Gradually avoid triggers that may cause hot flashes, such as alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, and tobacco.

Exercise Regularly:

Regular physical activity can help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes. In a recent study, women who regularly worked out five times a week for 45 minutes experienced a 60% reduction in the frequency of hot flashes. [4]

Maintain a Healthy Weight:

Women who tend to be overweight can experience them more frequently.

Practice Relaxation Techniques:

Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga may help reduce the severity and instances of hot flashes.

At sleepme, we offer a variety of mindfulness and wellness exercises to help you relax. Below are just a handful of exercises to help your body find and maintain relaxation more easily.

Eat a Healthy Diet:

Which is the best diet for menopause? A whole-food diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may help reduce hot flashes. Popular food choices include green leafy vegetables, broccoli, carrots, apples, pineapples, proteins, fatty fish (salmon), nuts, and seeds.

When to See Your Doctor

Hot flashes can be managed with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter remedies. However, it is a good idea to see a doctor if they disrupt your daily life, if you have other unexplained symptoms, or if you are experiencing symptoms and have not, to your knowledge, entered perimenopause yet.

Final Thought

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can lower the amount and intensity of hot flashes. Since no two women are alike, the methods used to treat hot flashes may vary. Also, it's important to understand the hot flashes may only last a few months, while for others, they experience symptoms of menopause for several years or longer.

Remember, trying different options may be beneficial if one isn't successful, and this uncomfortable experience will eventually end.

Citations / Resources

[1] Bansal, R., & Aggarwal, N. (2019). Menopausal Hot Flashes: A Concise Review. Journal of mid-life health, 10(1), 6–13. View Study

[2] Thurston, R. C., Ewing, L. J., Low, C. A., Christie, A. J., & Levine, M. D. (2015). Behavioral weight loss for the management of menopausal hot flashes: a pilot study. Menopause (New York, N.Y.), 22(1), 59–65. View Study

[3] Avis, N. E., Levine, B. J., & Coeytaux, R. (2022). Results of a pilot study of a cooling mattress pad to reduce vasomotor symptoms and improve sleep. Menopause (New York, N.Y.), 29(8), 973–978. View Study

[4] Bailey, T. G., Cable, N. T., Aziz, N., Dobson, R., Sprung, V. S., Low, D. A., & Jones, H. (2016). Exercise training reduces the frequency of menopausal hot flashes by improving thermoregulatory control. Menopause (New York, N.Y.), 23(7), 708–718. View Study

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