Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night soaked in sweat? It could be the middle of winter when the room is at a comfortable temperature from the heat, or in the middle of summer with the air conditioner blasting. Perhaps you feel hot, or perhaps you feel clammy — both can come with night sweats.
There are many reasons that people find themselves waking up with hot flashes or night sweats, and though the two are similar, they have different causes. While night sweats can happen to anyone, night sweats due to hot flashes — which are sudden feelings of the body feeling intensely warm that can be associated with sweating at night — are slightly different. Both, though, are quite common; hot flashes during the day and hot flashes while sleeping are some of the most common symptoms for menopausal women.
Elyse Schunketwitz, LCSW and primary clinician in Bellevue Hospital psychiatric emergency room, says, “Night sweats can be caused by numerous issues, and sometimes the root cause may be difficult to detect. It is likely night sweats are an unwanted output of the nervous system and that the body is having trouble responding to a stimulus during the sleep cycle, resulting in poor body temperature regulation.”
All this considered, no matter what’s causing you to sweat at night, night sweats aren’t particularly enjoyable for anyone. That being said, knowing the cause can help you battle night sweats and have a peaceful night of sleep.
Causes Of Night Sweats
So, what are the causes of night sweats and hot flashes? There are many different reasons, and getting to the bottom of it can help you find solutions to aid in a more restful sleep. The most common causes of night sweats and hot flashes are:
Some medications can cause night sweats. Some, like antidepressants, steroids and aspirin, cause a fever to break, resulting in night sweats.
When your body recognizes that there is an infection, it heats up to fight it off. This leads to higher body temperatures, which can cause you to have night sweats. Sometimes, this is good news because it means your fever has broken. But, if it persists, it’s best to see a doctor.
Hormonal issues are another common cause of night sweats. Some examples are an overactive thyroid, diabetes or other endocrine system problems such as pheochromocytoma. Also, changes in estrogen can cause night sweats in women, for instance, during a menstrual cycle or pregnancy.
Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Have you ever woken up from a bad dream covered in sweat? This is not uncommon. You might be having a bad dream because you are feeling anxious. Or, you might not have a bad dream but wake up in night sweats, anyway. This could be due to anxiety since “An overactive mind revs up your brain and body, which can result in sweating,” says Dr. Aarthi Ram, neurologist and sleep medicine expert at Houston Methodist.
Menopause can cause someone to have multiple symptoms, but menopause sweats and hot flashes, which lead to night sweats, is one of the most common. According to NIH, hot flashes affect up to 85% of menopausal women.
Other Medical Issues
There are many different medical issues that can cause night sweats, from cancer and hyperhidrosis, side effects from cancer treatments, stomach issues, etc.
How To Stop Night Sweats
Know that night sweats, for the most part, are quite common and normal. But, if night sweats persist or seem very unusual to you, see a doctor as it could be a sign of something else happening. It might also be a good idea to keep track of when you’re having night sweats, how long they last, how you feel when they happen, and what you believe might be triggering them. This can help your doctor help you find the cause of your night sweats.
A doctor or therapist will be able to look for the root of the problem to stop night sweating. The doctor will be able to find ways to manage your night sweats and hopefully get rid of them. This may be done by diagnosing and treating another problem that’s inevitably causing your night sweats or prescribing medication to help them subside.
Night Sweats Treatment And Relief
If night sweats keep waking you up at night, know that there are night sweats treatments and reliefs to help you. Sometimes, it could be a minor adjustment in your sleeping arrangements that will cease your night sweats. Other times, you may need more of an intervention. Again, if your night sweats are causing you concern, see a doctor.
CBT and Other Therapy
As one of the causes of night sweats can be anxiety and panic attacks, CBT — also known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy — can help you get to the bottom of it. CBT can help you find solutions to your night sweats by helping you find behavioral modifications and talking through anything that could be causing them. CBT was found to have reduced the frequency of night sweats, which can help you sleep better and give you more energy during the day.
“A routine before bed that increases parasympathetic tone (our “rest and digest” system) may assist in preventing or minimizing night sweats. Calming breath work, laying on an acupressure mat, or self-massage prior to bed may assist with this.” Schunkewitz said. Outside her practice, Schunkewitz is a psychotherapist and brain-based personal trainer.
Change Your Sleeping Environment
Perhaps the reason you’re having night sweats is that your room is too hot. Or, it’s too cold, which means you’re wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt when you go to bed. Our body temperature fluctuates throughout the day, and while we sleep as part of our circadian rhythm. Strive to keep your room at a temperature between 60 °F and 67 °F.
If you prefer a breeze, open a window, use a fan or add a humidifier in the winter time. Have different blankets depending on the season, and making sure you’re comfortable when you go to bed can help reduce night sweats. Also, having a consistent bedtime routine can also help, like going to sleep the same time every night or reading a book before falling asleep.
You can also try changing your mattress. For example, there are cooling mattresses for hot sleepers and mattresses, specifically for people with hot flashes, night sweats and menopause. Some other options might be the Brooklyn Bedding Aurora mattress, and getting the right bed sheets might help as well.
Change Your Diet
Believe it or not, a change in your diet can help fix night sweats and hot flashes. To start, you can try drinking more water, cutting out spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine, and replacing it with more natural foods. Flaxseed is said to help, too. In general, eating a more healthy diet and staying away from things that are not healthy (greasy food, processed food, etc.) can perhaps help you see a difference. If you want to find the right diet for you, consider visiting a nutritionist.
Wear Cool And Breathable Clothes
Just like changing your sleeping environment, changing the clothes you wear to bed can help you avoid night sweats. Try experimenting with different pajama (or lack of pajama) options to see if that helps. In general, clothing should be comfortable and breathable and not too constricting.
Some doctors may recommend if the night sweats are being caused by hormonal problems. That being said, hormone therapy — in some cases — can also cause night sweats.
Paroxetine is the only non-hormonal treatment for hot flashes approved by the FDA, according to MayoClinic. It is an antidepressant, and other antidepressants may work, too, such as Citalopram and Venlafaxine. Again, you must speak to a doctor about this first.
Vitamins and Supplements
Certain vitamins and supplements are believed to help with night sweats. These include primrose, Vitamin E and Vitamin B.
Sleeping medication might help with keeping you asleep during night sweats. Do not take sleeping medication without consulting a doctor, as many can be habit-forming.