Hot flashes and night sweats are common during the menopause, with symptoms ranging from a mild feeling of warmth in specific areas, such as the face, chest or back, to an overwhelming heat that passes through the entire body. While some women notice only mild discomfort, others experience distressing symptoms that can disrupt their daily life. If hot flashes and night sweats are affecting your quality of life, there are ways to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.
Identify Your Triggers
Hot flashes are often triggered by certain foods and environmental factors, although these triggers vary greatly from one woman to the next. The best way to discover your triggers is to keep a diary of symptoms and possible causes. Common triggers include spicy food, alcohol, caffeine, cigarette smoke, hot weather and stuffy rooms. You can also look for other patterns, such as the time of day or specific places where your symptoms are more likely to occur.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
Stress and anxiety are common triggers for hot flashes and night sweats. Many women notice an increase in anxiety levels during the menopause, which can make night sweats more likely. While it’s not always possible to remove the causes of stress, you can reduce its impact on your body by learning to relax. Relaxation exercises, such as progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing and guided visualizations can be useful for relieving stress.
Adjust Your Sleeping Environment
Night sweats can be caused or exacerbated by your sleeping environment. Make sure your bedroom is well ventilated and try to keep it as cool as possible. Use cotton sheets and bed linen, as well as loose cotton clothing, as this allows your skin to breathe and helps to prevent overheating. If face flushing and sweating is a problem during the night, you can buy special pillows filled with cooling materials. Keep a bottle of cold water by your bed, as hydration is particularly important for keeping cool and preventing headaches during the menopause. Gels packs, ice packs and fans can also be useful for some people.
Take Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is important for managing many symptoms associated with the menopause, including hot flashes, insomnia and weight gain. Gentle exercise, such as walking, swimming or yoga, is often best, as you can give your body a workout and reduce your stress levels without working up too much of a sweat. Wear loose clothing made of breathable fabrics, such as cotton, and remember to drink plenty of fluids while exercising.
Nutritional supplements help to relieve hot flashes and night sweats for many women, but it can take time and experimentation to find the right supplement. Soy, evening primrose oil, B vitamins and black cohosh are popular supplements for improving health during the menopause. Most health food stores also stock supplements designed specifically for the menopause, which often include a variety of vitamins, minerals and other compounds. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking supplements, as they can interact with some medications and should not be used if you have certain medical conditions.
Hot flashes and night sweats are common symptoms of the menopause, but they can often be relieved by taking a few self-help measures. If hot flashes persist or are severe enough to disrupt your life, see your doctor, as they may be able to prescribe medication to help ease your symptoms.