Night sweats are episodes of sweating and perspiration that occur while a woman sleeps. During menopause, night sweats are typically triggered by fluctuating levels of hormones. However, they can also be activated by stress and anxiety.
About Night Sweats, Anxiety, and Stress
It has been estimated that 70% of women experience night sweats at some point during their lives. The experience is characterized by brief flashes of heat that cause excessive sweating during sleep.
Many people who experience the sensation often wake up feeling cold, clammy, and drenched in sweat. For most women, night sweats are the result of hormonal changes that occur during the menopausal transition.
Night sweats are also a common and distressing anxiety symptom that can cause sufferers to wake up dripping in sweat. The experience can be incredibly uncomfortable and promote further anxiety.
Stress can also cause night sweats, especially among menopausal women who are experiencing fluctuating estrogen hormone levels.
Causes of Night Sweats
Anybody can experience night sweats at any time. They are not only a symptom of menopause but also a potential side effect of certain medical conditions (such as cancer and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)), medications, hormonal changes, anxiety and stress).
Night Sweats Triggers
Factors that can cause a woman to suffer from anxiety and stress related night sweats include: relationships, financial hardship and everyday work and family stresses.
Women who experience stress and anxiety induced night sweats may also do so because they are concerned about their general health and well-being. This worry can cause hormones to spike and recede quickly, causing the hypothalamus -the brain segment that regulates temperature - to respond by warming the body.
Sometimes a woman's anxiety and stress can be rooted in something deeper than everyday worry. Women who feel that they are experiencing an unusual amount of stress or anxiety should seek medical attention.
Women who are experiencing night sweats due to anxiety and stress have three potential treatment options to choose from:
- Lifestyle changes
- Alternative medicine
With the right combination of treatments, you may be able to control your anxiety and stress, and concurrently, your night sweats episodes.
- The National Institute of Health.(n.d). "Signs of the Menopausal Transition" .Retrieved from www.nih.gov
- Boston Women's Health Collective. "Hot Flashes, Night Sweats and Sleep Disturbances". Our Bodies, Ourselves, 2006.
- Von Muhlen, DG, et al. "A community-based study of menopause symptoms and estrogen replacement in older women". Maturitas. Sept 1995; 22(2):71-8.