4 Ways to Nix Night Sweats

Almost half of all women approaching or experiencing menopause can tell you all about night sweats. The frequency may vary from woman to woman, but the story is always the same: Suddenly waking up in the middle of the night, sometimes several times a night, feeling extremely hot around the face, neck and chest areas, and sweating profusely, to the point of saturating your sheets, pillowcases and nightclothes. It's a hot flash that happens at night, and it's just not fun!

Clinically known as sleep hyperhydrosis, night sweating is associated with a variety of conditions, including infections, cancer, certain medications, low blood sugar, alcohol withdrawal and hyperthyroidism. If you are experiencing night sweats and you are not sleeping in an overheated room, a visit to your physician is in order to determine and treat the underlying cause.

Most commonly, however, night sweats in women are a symptom of perimenopause, the stage leading up to menopause, when women begin to produce less estrogen. Hormone replacement therapy helps many women but it's not for everyone. Some antidepressants, such as Effexor and Prozac, also appear to relieve hot flashes. Supplements, especially those that contain the herb black cohosh, seem to help some women, but there isn't enough science behind the claims for most doctors to make formal medical recommendations.

These simple and practical tips may help you get more sleep or, at the very least, cope better with night sweats.

Cold Water

A cold drink will help cool you down. Leave a glass of ice water on your night table, or somewhere close to your bed before you go to sleep. As soon as you wake up and start to experience a hot flash or sweats, start sipping the water.

Cool Air

Maintain cool air temperature in the room where you sleep. Whenever possible, use fans and air conditioners to keep the air around your bed cool and circulating.

Breathable Fibers

Cotton, silk, and fibers that wick away perspiration are your best bet for nightclothes and bedding. You may feel especially chilly just after a night sweat subsides. Layering sheets and blankets, and even your pajamas, allows you to throw some or all of them off when you first wake up feeling hot, and then cover up again if you start to feel cold.

Paced Breathing

Studies performed at Wayne State University School of Medicine found that deep, slow breathing reduced the number of hot flashes in menopausal women by approximately half.  To practice paced breathing, take slow, deep breaths, expand your abdomen as you inhale and contract your abdomen as you exhale. Take six to eight full breaths per minute, for approximately 15 minutes. Experts at Harvard Medical School recommend this practice twice a day and whenever you start to feel the first flicker of a hot flash.




National Institute on Aging. "What Can You Do for Hot Flashes and Other Menopausal Synptoms?" 12 Aug 2010. Web. 14 Oct 2010.


Harvard Medical School Health Publications. "Perimenopause: Rocky Road to Menopause." Aug 2005. Web. 14 Oct 2010.