Night sweats are hot flashes that occur at night. Scientists are not sure why they occur, but it appears that falling estrogen levels can affect the hypothalamus, which regulates body temperature.
Menopausal hot flashes are sudden feelings of intense body heat that can occur during the day or night. Night sweats are periods of heavy sweating, or hyperhidrosis, associated with hot flashes that occur at night. They can often wake women up from sleep.
There are other everyday habits that can help prevent night sweats. These include:
Some women try supplements and complementary (or alternative) remedies to ease their menopause symptoms. It’s important to note that supplements come in many different preparations and their quality, purity and safety varies. There is some evidence that a few of them might have a benefit, but for others, the science is still unclear.
You may have heard about Black cohosh, DHEA, or soy isoflavones to treat hot flashes. These products are not proven to be effective, and some carry risks such as liver damage.
Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like substances found in some cereals, vegetables, and legumes (like soy), and herbs. They may work in the body like a weak form of estrogen, but they have not been consistently shown to be effective in research studies, and their long-term safety is unclear.
Always talk with your doctor before taking any herb or supplement. Currently, it is unknown whether these herbs or other ‘natural’ products are helpful or safe to treat your hot flashes/night sweats or other menopausal symptoms. The benefits and risks are still being studied.
HRT and other medication
Your GP can talk to you about hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which replaces oestrogen. It’s the most effective treatment for hot flashes. They’ll explain the risks and benefits of taking HRT. If you decide not to take HRT, or if its not recommended for you, there are other non-hormonal medications available.
Women who use an antidepressant to help manage hot flashes generally take a lower dose than people who use the medication to treat depression. As with any medication, talk with your doctor about whether this is the right medication for you and how you might manage any possible side effects.
Acupuncture and homeopathy are also offered as an approach to symptom relief. Please see the below link for further information. Menopause – Complementary therapies for menopausal symptoms (healthtalk.org)
What works for one woman to relieve hot flashes and night sweats might not work for another. If you’re trying different treatments, it can be useful to keep a sleep diary so you can determine what helps you most.