Night sweating is a problem that affects many women during menopause. It can be a sign of more serious issues and can greatly affect quality of life. If you are experiencing excessive night sweating, it is important to understand the triggers, causes, and possible treatments. Read on to find out more about night sweating and how to manage it effectively.
What Is Excessive Night Sweating?
Also known as "nocturnal hyperhidrosis," night sweating is a common perspiration problem occurring during sleep. It can repeatedly wake you from sleep, leaving pajamas and bed linens uncomfortably soaked with sweat.
It usually begins with feelings of extreme heat in the upper body followed by a quickened heartbeat and flushed skin in the chest, neck, and face. Such symptoms typically persist for thirty seconds to five minutes. The frequency and intensity of these episodes are different for every woman.
Other symptoms of excessive night sweats include:
- Heart palpitations and rapid heartbeat
- Frequent sleep interruptions
Disturbed sleep patterns caused by excessive night sweating can have serious consequences for a woman's physical and emotional well-being. This can result in fatigue, stress, irritability, and social isolation.
What Causes Excessive Night Sweating?
The main cause of excessive night sweats is believed to be hormonal imbalance, such as reduced estrogen levels during menopause. This is the result of the hypothalamus - the heat-regulating area of the brain - sending out confused and incorrect signals. During the menopausal transition, declining estrogen levels may cause the hypothalamus to falsely sense that the body is overheating, sending out signals to cool the body rapidly. This often results in excessive night sweating.
How Do I Manage Symptoms?
Night sweats can be managed by taking steps to relieve stress, improve diet, and maintain a regular exercise routine. Alternative treatments such as herbal supplements may prove to be effective solutions for night sweating, as they treat hormonal imbalance, believed to be the root cause of night sweats.
In extreme cases, you may turn to more invasive measures to treat your night sweating, such as medications. Such options are usually only recommended if lifestyle changes and alternative remedies are unsuccessful. As always, consult your doctor if you are concerned about excessive night sweat symptoms.
- Boston Women's Health Collective. (2006). Hot Flashes, Night Sweats and Sleep Disturbances. Our Bodies, Ourselves.
- National Institute on Aging. (2015). Signs of the Menopausal Transition. Retrieved January 7, 2016, from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/menopause-time-change/signs-menopausal-transition
- Von Muhlen, D.G. et al. (1995). A community-based study of menopause symptoms and estrogen replacement in older women. Maturitas, 22(2), 71-78.