If you are experiencing the unpleasantness of night sweats or hot flashes, you are not alone. In one study over of over 2000 primary care patients, 41% of people reported disrupted sleep due to night sweats.
While these are most often normal reaction of your body to hormonal changes or for fighting infection there are ways to manage and even stop night sweats and hot flashes naturally. For example, avoiding certain triggers, establishing healthy habits and creating the ideal temperature regulating sleep sanctuary. In this article, we are going to discuss these and other natural remedies to try.
What are Hot Flashes and Night Sweats?
Hot flashes involve temporary, recurring episodes of a sudden feeling of intense heat in the upper body and face and are most commonly associated with menopause. While more common at night, hot flashes can actually occur during any time of the day or night. During a hot flash, blood vessels near the surface of your skin dilate to cool off, making you sweat excessively.
Night sweats present episodes of heavy sweating that occurs at night due to a hot flash or several other causes. Night sweats can often wake you up from sleep, making it difficult to get enough rest.
Causes of night sweats
In many cases it is difficult to identify exactly why someone has night sweats, the body’s temperature regulating system is complex and can operate in unique ways for every individual. For some, we are born hot sleepers and naturally wake up in a hot, sweaty mess occasionally or frequently, and that is just how our body tends to roll. However, if you don’t always sweat at night, or have only recently started, your night sweats may be caused by any of the following factors:
- Menopause - 85% of women report sleep disturbing hot flashes during the night causing night sweats when they went through menopause. These menopausal Hot Flashes are believed to be caused by changes in the body’s production of the hormones estogen and progesterone. With each episode lasting a few minutes, they can occur at night and during the day and can continue for several years as the body regulates its hormones.
- Pregnancy and postpartum
- Medications - certain medications have known side effects of night sweats. These medications include antidepressants that are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), steroids and even common medications to lower fevers such as acetaminophen or Asprin.
- Alcohol, caffeine and other drug use
- Infections - When your body is attempting to defend against an infection such as Influenza, tuberculosis or HIV, your body’s defensive mechanisms can cause overheating & night sweats.
- Hormone Problems & Imbalances
- Anxiety & Panic attacks
- Hyperhidrosis - a condition of excessive sweating
Natural Ways to Stop Night Sweats and Hot Flashes
While many people experience hot flashes and night sweats at some point during their life, you can use several tactics to manage and lessen the unpleasant symptoms to overcome the issues affecting your sleeping.
The following lifestyle changes are a good place to start that may help minimise the discomfort from raising body temperature or even stop night sweats and hot flashes altogether:
1. Avoid the Triggers
The exact cause of hot flashes is uncertain, but they are believed to be related to changes in circulation. However, some triggers have been shown to promote night sweats and hot flashes in some people, so do your best to stay away from them:
- Synthetic materials for sleeping, including your mattress, sheets and pyjamas
- Consuming caffeine and alcohol close to bed time
- Smoking or inhaling secondhand smoke
- Eating spicy foods
- Experiencing excess stress
- Excessively high room temperature
2. Create the optimal temperature for sleeping
One of the key considerations for creating an ultimate sleep sanctuary is having an environment in which your body temperature is maintained at a comfortable level throughout the night.
Cool down your room:
The first and perhaps the most obvious way to achieve this is to control the temperature of the room.
The most effective way to do this is by having an air-conditioning unit so you are able to turn down your thermostat before going to bed. The ultimate sleeping temperature is 18.3 degree Celsius/ 65 degree farenheit, however for many this is too cool so choose a temperature that is comfortable for your body.
If you do not have the luxury of air-conditioning, fans work well to cool down the room. We recommend using two fans if possible, one facing out of the window pushing all the hot air out and the second one facing inwards to circulate the cool air around your room. You can even increase the cooling function of the inwards facing fan by placing a frozen 1 litre + bottle of water in front of the fan so that the incoming air is refrigerated.
During the day, be sure to keep your windows closed and curtains drawn as much as possible to keep the room temperature from raising during the hottest hours.
Sleep in and on natural materials
The materials that you surround yourself in (pyjamas and sheets) and sleep on (mattress sheets, and pillowcases) have a dramatic impact on regulating your body temperature throughout the night. This is why it is crucial to choose breathable materials for sleeping. Breathability is defined as the ability of a fabric to allow perspiration, evaporated by the body, to escape to the outside (termed moisture vapour transmission), thereby allowing complete comfort. Typically, unblended, natural materials are a safe choice for breathable fabrics and thus cooling sheets/sleepwear. The weave of the fabric also affects its breathability, for example Cotton is naturally a very breathable material, however when it is woven very tightly together for a higher thread count, it make is less breathable. Linen has a loose weave, making it breathable. And bamboo instantly feels cool to the touch since it has natural temperature-regulating properties.
Highly breathable materials are:
On the contrary, synthetic materials have low breathability, this causes them to trap the body heat that is emitted from the body at night. With nowhere for the heat to escape to, under the covers gets increasingly hotter which causes your body to heat up even more- a vicious cycle resulting in disrupted sleep and a sweaty mess.
Poorly breathable materials for sleeping are:
So when you are choosing your bed sheets and sleepwear, don’t forget to check the breathability first!
Our Groundd Eco-Silk Sheets and our Weighted Blankets are specifically designed for hot sleepers. We chose 100% Organic Bamboo Lyocell and unblended cotton. Bamboo Lyocell is naturally silky and soft material that is very breathable and feels cool to the touch. It is also moisture wicking meaning that if you do sweat, the moisture quickly moves to the exterior of the fabric and dries rapidly so that the moisture does not soak into the fabric creating damp patches.
Although you may not realise it, your mattress can trap body heat as well. At Groundd, we recommend a natural latex mattress as the best choice for a breathable and all natural material that will help regulate temperature. Latex is a type of rubber, it is a completely chemical free and has great breathability. Memory foam, on the other hand, is a man-made polyurethane foam that is notorious for trapping body heat. The dense, contouring properties of memory foam make it contain body heat rather than circulate it which is why we do not recommend memory foam for hot sleepers.
Try a weighted blanket
We get it, the thought of lying under a heavy blanket may not seem like a logical first step for someone who overheats at night. That is why it is important to look for cooling weighted blankets that use glass beads and breathable, natural materials. We are so conditioned to couple weight and warmth together for blankets, but they don’t have to be. Groundds weighted blanket brings the weight from glass beads (which do not trap or retain body heat) with only the warmth of 100% loose weave cotton & 100% bamboo lyocell cover. This innovative, cooling weighted blankets allows hot sleepers to have the ultra-comforting weight of the heaviest duvet a fraction of the warmth.
3. Establish Healthy Habits
Create routines that include these everyday habits can also help you stop night sweats and treat hot flashes naturally:
- Exercise during the day to relieve stress and sleep better at night
- Learn techniques & routines to calm your mind, relieve anxiety & reduce the risk of having a panic attack. For some strategies for how to achieve this see our blog on How to Calm your Mind and go to Sleep.
- Maintain a healthy weight - some research points to a link between having a higher body weight and experiencing night sweats
Know What to Do When Hot Flashes Do Happen
If night sweats and hot flashes strike you at night and prevent you from falling a sleep again, you can find relief quickly by:
- Turning on a fan
- Turning down the temperature in the bedroom
- Sipping cool water
- Removing layers of pajamas
- Breathing slowly and deeply to help your body relax
Hear from other Groundd Sleepers who used to suffer from Night Sweats
As a woman in my late 40's experiencing night sweats this blanket is a god send. I always needed the weight of blankets to help me sleep but without the sweating. The blanket has solved that by keeping me at a comfortable temperature and nice and cosy!