Night sweats

These typically occur during the night. Any woman who experiences these finds that she wakes up several times in the night covered in sweat.

This means a broken night’s sleep and tiredness the following day.

What are night sweats?

They are a type of hot flush which occurs several times in the night. Some women experience these but do not have any hot flushes in the daytime but others find that they experience both which only increases the misery.

Severe night sweats can leave you with bedding which is soaked with sweat and a struggle to get back to sleep.

How common are night sweats?

No woman experiences every symptom of the menopause. Some women experience various symptoms such as night sweats or headaches whereas others will experience vaginal dryness, mood swings and a drop in libido.

But most women experience night sweats.

Triggers for night sweats

These are usually caused by the menopause but night sweats can be an indicator of an underlying condition, for example diabetes. Certain cancers such as those of the lymphoma are another possible cause as are infections such as tuberculosis.

Some forms of medication such as antidepressants, tamoxiflen and cortisone result in night sweats along with other side effects.

Treating night sweats

Whilst these are most likely to be attributed to the menopause it is worth seeking medical advice to see if there are other factors involved.

For a woman aged 40 and over they are one of several signs of the menopause but if you are concerned then speak to your GP. He or she may recommend further investigation of these to determine if there is an underlying cause or they are a symptom of the menopause.

As regards treating hot night sweats, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is an option as this can alleviate these and other symptoms of the menopause. But HRT is not without its risks.

Your GP will assess your current state of health and will look at this and your medical history to determine your suitability for HRT.

If HRT is not recommended then there are a few alternatives which include:

  • Keeping a fan in the bedroom: this can help to keep temperatures cool which are particularly important during the night.
  • Wear light clothing
  • Avoid alcohol, spicy foods and caffeine especially last thing at night.
  • Use light, cotton bedding
  • Keep a glass of iced water to hand which you can sip during the night. This will also help to re-hydrate you due to the fluid loss as a result of sweating.
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Avoid doing any activity which is likely to leave you over-stimulated, e.g. using a laptop in bed, watching television etc.

Every woman is different in regard to night sweats so what works for one will not necessarily work for someone else. You need to try several of the alternatives mentioned above to see what works for you.

Night sweats are similar to hot flushes in that they appear during the menopause but gradually ease over a period of time. It is important to realise that you are not alone in this and it may help to talk to other women who are experiencing the menopause.

For more information visit our menopause self help section.

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