You know the scenario: You head to bed but you toss and turn. Covers go on, covers come off. Fan goes on, fan goes off. It makes for a terrible night, and before you know it, it’s time to get up and you’re exhausted. Sound familiar? It might if you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from hot flashes or night sweats. They not only disrupt your sleep cycle, but your quality of life, and your ability to perform daily tasks. And it’s not just women who experience these symptoms.
Who is Affected by Hot Flashes?
While seventy-five percent of women experience hot flashes and night sweats during perimenopause and menopause men, young women, and children can also experience them for varying reasons.
What Causes Hot Flashes?
While medical experts may not prescribe the same treatments, most agree that hot flashes in menopausal women are the result of an imbalance of hormones, which sends messages to the brain that the body needs to cool off. The symptoms can be triggered—day or night—by many things, including eating spicy foods, cigarette smoke, alcohol, caffeine, feelings of stress, being in a hot room or car, or wearing winter clothes, especially around the neck.
But there are other possible causes that include side effects of certain medications, diabetes, obesity, infections, thyroid disorders, adrenal gland disease, autoimmune illnesses, gluten-intolerance, food allergies, cancer, chemotherapy, sleep disorders, pregnancy, and drug or alcohol withdrawal.
Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Regardless of the cause, disruptive bouts of hot flashes and night sweats can leave you feeling fatigued, and in much need of relief. Try the following:
- Go with the right sheets. Microfiber or sateen sheets aren’t a good choice. Try 100% cotton percale sheets.
- Try cotton. Wear breathable cotton or thin pajamas rather than flannel and heavy socks.
- Lower the thermostat. Sleeping in a cooler room rather than a warmer one promotes restful sleep.
- Try a cooling pillow which can be helpful to those prone to hot flashes and night sweats. Pillows infused with a cooling gel draw heat away from your body and reduce the temperature of your bed.
- Cold packs. Gel cold packs placed on the back of the neck and pulse points also offer relief. And be sure to “air” your bed in the morning before making it, to allow any moisture to evaporate.
- Herbal remedies. Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) has long been used to relieve hot flashes during menopause. Primrose oil, black currant seed oil, Gotu Kola, and dong quai are also used to relieve hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Consult your holistic doctor before taking any herbal remedies, especially if pregnant.
- Belladonna. This homeopathic medicine is used successfully to reduce fever and sudden onset of perspiration in adults and children 2 years of age or older. Although it is readily available for purchase online, consult your holistic doctor first for dosage recommendations.
- Acupuncture. After conducting a 10-week study in Turkey using two control groups of women, researchers reported that traditional Chinese acupuncture was helpful in reducing the severity of hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. Acupuncture is known to boost the production of endorphins, which stabilizes the temperature control system of the body. While further research is needed, acupuncture may be a safe alternative treatment.
- Take a Deep Breath. Paced breathing is a calming exercise you can do to reduce feelings of stress caused by hot flashes. Simply sit up straight and close your eyes. Inhale, breathing in deeply to the count of five. Slowly exhale, while counting to five again. This exercise also helps lower blood pressure.
What strategies work for you to get relief from hot flashes and night sweats?