Hot flashes and night sweats: What can you do?
Hot flashes and night sweats: What can you do? The amount we sweat varies from person to person. Excessive sweating is generally caused by strenuous exercise or by too heavy clothes, but anxiety or nightmares At night, the average person’s body releases up to a liter of sweat per night, with this number being even higher in the summer.
Not only is it unpleasant to wake up covered in sweat, but it also prevents us from getting a good night’s sleep at night. We feel tired and groggy the next day, leading our performance to suffer. For menopausal women, hot flashes at night are an especially common occurrence. In this blog article, we answer the question of what to do about hot flashes at night and whether you can avoid them or reduce their occurrence?
Why do we sweat?
Sweating one of the body’s natural protective mechanisms. Sweating prevents the body from overheating, which is why we have sweat glands that produce sweat exactly when our nerve cells send a certain signal to our brain. Many sweat glands are located on the palms of our hands and forehead. The sweat is transported through our pores to the surface of the skin, where it evaporates and cools down our body.
When we set our body and muscles in motion while exercising, our body consumes power and energy. During this exertion, our body temperature rises and we start sweating. The amount of sweat and how quickly we start sweating depends on how often we exercise. As a general rule, people who rarely exercise start sweating faster than athletes.
However, during hot flashes at night the reason for excessive sweating seems to be completely random. Many women feel stressed by hot flashes in everyday life, which can lead to concentration problems.
Hot flashes during menopause
Up to 90% of all menopausal women experience unpleasant hot flashes during both the day and at night. However, the frequency and intensity of these hot flashes varies from women to women. Some women suffer more from hot flashes at night than others.
Hot flashes in menopausal women can occur between three and twenty times a day. Sometimes they last just a few minutes, sometimes longer. With the onset of a hot flash, many women first notice a feeling of pressure in their head or unexplained discomfort in the body. The hot flashes usually rise and fall and affect mainly the upper body, neck and face.
These hot flashes are triggered by a sudden dilation of the blood vessels. This stimulates the blood circulation and the skin reddens. Our body temperature also rises and sweat breaks out. Sweating causes the body temperature to drop and many women feel cold after the hot flash.
Hot flashes are often accompanied by heart palpitations. This is a natural reaction to the increased blood circulation; the heartbeat usually calms down again quickly. Hot flashes are especially frequent at the beginning of the menopause, but they occur less often with time. After one or two years, most women no longer have hot flashes.
Causes of hot flashes
The causes of hot flashes are not yet 100% clear. They occur most frequently at the onset of the menopause and are most intense at this stage. Experts suspect that the body’s ability to regulate its temperature is diminished during menopause and that the production of estrogen fluctuates strongly. These hormonal changes are thought to play a major role in hot flashes.
Another explanation is the increased release of stress hormones, such as adrenaline. This is explained by the lowered estrogen level. The estrogen deficiency seems to influence the body’s ability to regulate its temperature in the brain.
Other reasons for hot flashes
Besides the hot flashes women experience during menopause, there are other reasons why we sweat more at night.
Hyperactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
The thyroid gland is another important producer of hormones, which influence numerous processes in our body. Autoimmune diseases such as Graves' disease are a typical cause of hyperactive thyroid. As part of this disease, the body's own immune system attacks the thyroid gland. This leads to the overproduction of thyroid hormones.
The hormones produced by the thyroid gland influence many bodily functions such as circulation, metabolism and our mood. The disease usually occurs in middle-aged people; women typically suffer from this more often than men. The most common symptoms of hyperactive thyroid are irritability, mood swings, hair loss, rapid heartbeat, night sweats and inner restlessness.
Diabetes mellitus is perhaps better known as 'sugar diabetes' and can cause night sweats and muscle tremors. This happens in the case of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) at night. The reactions to hypoglycaemia usually subside after a short time. However, this could be dangerous, as people who suffer from hypoglycaemia do not wake up at night and sleep through them.
In the worst case, this can lead to long-term nerve damage (autonomic neuropathy). Damaged nerves can also include those that regulate the secretion of sweat. As a result, the sweat glands no longer function properly.
It is especially important to react to these signs of hypoglycaemia (such as night sweats, muscle tremors and dizziness) and to consume glucose or a ready-made sugar solution. In addition, blood sugar should be measured regularly. Ideally twice a day, in the morning and in the evening.
Allergies and hot flashes
Certain allergies can also cause hot flashes. Hay fever, for example, can cause heavy sweating. Other symptoms such as rhinitis, coughing or skin irritations usually occur as well. The immune system overreacts to certain allergens and the body tries to get rid of them. One of the ways the body does this is through excessive sweating.
What should I do at night during hot flashes?
To relieve hot flashes at night, you can do a few things. Most of these things are lifestyle changes.
- Avoid spicy foods at night
- Eat easily digestible food (which contains a lot of fruit and vegetables.
- Try to avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages such as tea or coffee in the evening.
- Pay attention to your weight. Obesity and being overweight increase sweating.
- Do relaxation exercises, such as yoga or autogenic training
- Your clothes should be made of natural fibers, clothes made of synthetic and mixed fabrics will make you sweat faster
- Sleep in cool rooms and make sure that your bedding is made of natural materials such as organic cotton
Therapy for hot flashes
Hot flashes are usually treated gently, for example with ready-to-use preparations containing grape silver candle. In addition to this, also other vegetable remedies can help such as sage, red clover, soy, yarrow and lady's coat. Scientifically, however, this has not been proven.
Besides these remedies, you can also try physical therapy. For example, peat baths or alternating hot and cold foot baths can improve hot flashes at night. Hormone replacement therapy is generally not advisable, as it is associated with other disease risks such as thrombosis, breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Natural bed linen at Zizzz
In our list 'What to do against hot flashes at night' we say that natural materials are the fabrics to be used in bedding materials. Natural fibers can absorb more moisture than synthetic fabrics and prevent heat from building up under the blanket. Furthermore, natural materials are able to balance the temperature so that you neither feel cold nor sweat too much.
At Zizzz, we therefore carry bed linen made from purely organic materials, like organic cotton satin and percale. In addition to duvet covers, we also offer matching pillowcases and fitted sheets made from the same materials. Our cotton has been ethically obtained and awarded the GOTS seal. In addition, the bed linen is biodegradable and very long-lasting.