Night sweats are one of the most common and bothersome symptoms of menopause. If you’re struggling with night sweats, you’re not alone: According to Medline Plus, more than 80% of women experience night sweats during menopause. Night sweating occurs a few weeks before the onset of menopause and up until 12 months after.
Let’s take a deep dive into sweating at night during menopause, its causes, and treatment.
What Is Night Sweating?
Before we cover the causes and treatments for night sweating, it’s helpful to first understand what night sweating is. It’s simply when a person sweats while they sleep or just before they fall asleep. Daytime sweating can be caused by a number of different things, including physical exertion or hot weather, so don’t confuse it with nighttime sweatiness. Night sweats are the result of fluctuating hormones during the menopausal years, insomnia or not getting enough sleep, stress and anxiety, hot flashes, night terrors, or another medical condition or medication. We discuss these topics below in further detail.
Night sweating occurs when the body temperature rises during sleep. While hot flashes can occur during the day, night sweats typically happen at night when the body is cooler, and while asleep.
While sweating at night occurs less frequently than hot flashes, they’re a common symptom that affects women during menopause. Hot flashes can last a few minutes to several hours, whereas night sweats are relatively short and less intense.
Night Sweats and Menopause
Night sweating results from hormonal changes in a woman’s body during and after menopause. As we mentioned, hormone levels drop in females during menopause. And just as with other bodily functions like digestion or sleeping patterns, hormone levels are affected by lifestyle factors.
In addition to this, as women get older, their bodies naturally begin to produce less estrogen, the hormone responsible for many of the female-specific symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, mood swings and vaginal dryness. Since estrogen levels decline with age, night sweatiness among older women happens more often. The good news is that night sweatiness can be reversed with lifestyle changes and treatments for its cause.
Causes Of Night Sweats In Women
Night Sweats and Estrogen
Estrogen levels decline during menopause. And because estrogen is the hormone responsible for many of the unpleasant symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, night sweats are more likely to occur during this time.
Night Sweats and Progesterone Receptors
Oestrogen is a female sex hormone which plays a key role in reproductive function and can be stimulated by progesterone via its progesterone receptor. Progesterone produced during the second half of the menstrual cycle induces ovulation, prepares the uterus for pregnancy, and stimulates breast milk production. The ovary produces the female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.
In women with severe menopausal symptoms, this drop in progesterone levels can lead to insomnia, anxiety, depression and other hormone-related conditions such as hot flashes. This can be easily remedied though through a combination of lifestyle changes and taking prescribed hormonal supplementation, such as natural remedies for reducing night sweats in women.
Night Sweats and Menstrual Cycle
The decline in estrogen levels that causes night sweats also affects your menstrual cycle during menopause. Follicular, luteal and post-menopausal phases of your cycle may be affected. Oestrogen plays a key role in these phases: it causes growth in the size of your follicles, improves their quality, causes them to burst open on time, and triggers luteal phase progesterone production. It can be difficult to identify all these changes, but they may include irregular cycles, spotting and night sweating that occur before or during your cycle.
Night Sweats and Poor Sleep Habits
Poor sleep habits and lack of sleep are also one of the main causes of night sweating during menopause. Inadequate rest and a poor sleeping environment can cause your body to overheat. As a result, you sweat more often. No matter how tired you are, make sure you’re getting a good rest. For tips on getting great sleep, click here.
Night Sweats and Stress
Stress can also cause night sweating, especially if you have trouble sleeping. Stress hormones can lead to increased blood pressure, which, in turn, impacts the hypothalamus – which regulates the release of many hormones in your body, including cortisol and adrenal hormones. The release of these hormones can cause a rise in body temperature, leading to night sweats in females.
You can reduce stress by making positive lifestyle choices. The hydration and sleep that come with relaxing can help lower stress levels during your daily life and at night. A combination of these factors is what causes night sweats during menopause. To learn more about how stress impacts sleep, click here.
Easy Treatment For Night Sweats – 5 Top Tips
You don’t have to feel trapped by your night sweats. The key is to take the necessary actions to have a more peaceful and restful sleep.
Excessive sweating at night in women can be treated in a number of ways, such as changes to your lifestyle and medical treatments. With proper treatment, you can manage or prevent night sweating and enjoy good sleep. Unfortunately, there’s currently no cure for night sweats, but there are plenty of things you can try to keep the sweating from happening and treat it when it does. Here are some examples of how to manage and treat night sweats for women:
Adopt a healthy diet of whole foods
Changing your diet and nutrition is also a great way to manage night sweats, and there are plenty of ways to do it. By eating healthy foods rich in iron, magnesium, calcium and other nutrients that help with hormone balance, you can help prevent night sweats naturally.
Eating a diet rich in whole fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, lean proteins, and whole grains can help you stay healthy and regulate hormone levels.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and carbonated beverages.
Limit stress and exercise regularly
Regular exercise can help reduce stress, which is another factor that can cause night sweats. A study from the University of Pittsburgh looked at the effect of yoga on menopause-related sleep problems. After six months, those who practiced yoga had a better sleep quality and reduced their symptoms.
Stress hormones release more cortisol into the body, which can cause your body to overheat and make it more likely for females to sweat at night. Exercise helps lower stress levels, regulate your schedule, keep you active and strong, and sleep better.
Set yourself realistic goals. Have a set schedule for exercise, and come prepared with a bag of workout gear like a water bottle and protein bars that are easy to grab on your way out the door.
Sleep in a cool, comfortable place
Make sure your bed isn’t too hot and have a fresh aired-out room. Consider using a cooling mattress to help keep your body temperature low when asleep.
Get more sunlight
Exposure to bright light during the day can help reduce hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause such as mood swings, irritability, anxiety and depression. Light therapy can be a very effective treatment for night sweats as well.
Medicines that block the effects of oestrogen in the body can help relieve symptoms. Of all the medications available, low-dose combined oral contraceptives are the most effective at reducing night sweats. Estrogens can also be cut from your diet through diet or supplements.
Taking Supplements For Night Sweats
Many supplements are available to help manage excessive female night sweating and other menopausal symptoms. Some supplements can reduce the severity of night sweats, while others can help you fall asleep faster if sleep happens at all during the day or night.
For example, vitamin E is an anti-inflammatory that helps reduce hot flashes and prevent feelings of stress and anxiety, which can cause night sweats to get worse. You’ll want to choose a natural remedy for reducing night sweats based on your personal health goals and needs. Here are some commonly used supplements you may find helpful for night sweats:
Vitamins B, C and E
Reduce hot flashes that may be triggered by stress, anxiety or an increase in body temperature during the day. Take as directed on the label if you’re taking a supplement for night sweats. Airborne can also help relax your muscles after a long day of work or exercise to alleviate night sweats at night.
Vitamin B6 is a key nutrient that can help your body manage estrogen properly. By getting adequate vitamin B6 in your diet, you can help balance the function of the adrenal glands and reduce night sweats.
Improve digestion and boost immune system functioning, reducing the likelihood of experiencing hot flashes that trigger night sweating. If you experience bloating, gas or constipation concurrent with hot flashes, probiotics can also help reduce these symptoms.
Vitamin D can help regulate your body’s hormone levels and make them more balanced. Good vitamin D levels have been shown to reduce night sweats in some women by improving the balance of hormones.
The mineral magnesium helps regulate your body’s hormone levels and can help relieve symptoms such as night sweats, cramps, muscle aches, or leg weakness that are caused by too much calcium in your system. Magnesium supplements can also increase the quality of sleep you get during the night by calming down any stress hormones before bedtime.
Although unpleasant to encounter, night sweats are a temporary, harmless symptom of menopause that can be managed. There are plenty of ways to reduce the symptoms and keep them from getting worse. The key is to try as many different methods before finding one that works for you.
Do you have night sweats? What were they like before menopause, and how has it changed after you’re no longer pre-menopausal? Let us know in the comments below.
References & Sources
- Night Sweats and Women’s Health – clevelandclinic.org
Helen is a passionate writer contributing her expertise in sleep science and wellness to our readers. With a background in psychology and a love for exploring the intricacies of a good night’s rest, she aims to help readers achieve improved sleep and overall well-being through her insightful articles.