Night sweats – the hot flashes that occur while a woman is sleeping – can be an uncomfortable and inconvenient symptom that is taking place during the years preceding menopause.Women who experience night sweats during perimenopause may be wondering why they occur, and women who have yet to experience them may wonder what the symptoms are. All women, regardless of age, can benefit from gaining knowledge about night sweats.
Night Sweats: Causes
The most common cause of night sweats is hormonal imbalance that accompanies menopause. The transition a woman's body undergoes is not a smooth one and hormone levels rise and fall erratically without warning. These fluctuations have a direct affect on the hypothalamus, which is responsible for helping to control body temperature.
Low estrogen levels in the body cause the hypothalamus to respond by attempting to lower body temperature, causing women to feel a burst of heat that can lead to profuse sweating.
For women who are not convinced that their night sweats are a result of menopause, there are a few other potential causes. These less common causes of night sweats include:
- Thyroid conditions
- Sleep apnea
- Certain medications
- Neurological conditions
- Certain cancers
Women who suspect that their night sweats may be caused by a more serious underlying condition, should talk to their doctors as soon as possible.
Night Sweats: Symptoms
Some women may be unsure if what they are experiencing are, indeed, night sweats. Fortunately, there are a number of telling symptoms which include:
- Rushes of intense heat
- Rapid heartbeat
- Flushed skin
Since some women experience night sweats that disrupt their sleep, they may also experience the following symptoms after a night sweat episode:
- Sleep disorders
- Trouble concentrating
More Information about Night Sweats
For women who are tired of waking up with damp sheets or spending their days acting more like a lazy woman than a vibrant, a number of treatments do exist.Three levels of menopause treatment exist. These are:
- Lifestyle changes
- Alternative medicine
- Prescription medications
These treatments range from the less intense (lifestyle changes) to the more intense (prescription medications), and can be used in combination depending on a woman's specific health concerns and history. Please click to learn more about night sweats treatments.
- Boston Women's Health Collective. "Hot Flashes, Night Sweats and Sleep Disturbances". Our Bodies, Ourselves, 2006.
- The National Institute of Health.(n.d). "Signs of the Menopausal Transition".Retrieved from www.nih.gov
- 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.