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: :   HotFlash Central Night Sweats: The End of a Good Night’s Sleep

Night Sweats: The End of a Good Night’s Sleep

Waking up every night sweating is never fun. Not only are you soaked through, so is the bed. And worse, your sleep is disrupted, and getting back to sleep may be difficult. For most women, this is the most unpleasant symptom of menopause. Similar to your hot flashes during the day, night sweats are caused by your body's change in hormone levels. There are several ways to help you feel better and treat these unwelcome night visitors.

Getting Ready for Bed
HFN 043 NightSweats 1 14422547Ready for a shopping spree? There are some easy steps you can take before deciding to embark on adding any drugs or supplements to your daily intake. The financial investment could be well worth it. There are moisture-wicking nightclothes available, as well as sheets and pillowcases designed to keep you cool. Special pillows and mattress pads are available, too, and a bed fan that directs air between the sheets to cool your body through the night. Although these products don't stop night sweats because they have no effect on your hormones, they might have a positive effect on how you perceive the severity of the flash, your recovery afterwards, and, if you're lucky, they might even help you sleep through the night.

Estrogen Replacement
Many women choose to use hormone replacement therapy to help balance their estrogen and progesterone levels. This can help both hot flashes and many more symptoms created by menopause. But because of reports regarding the negative health effects of HRT, including links to breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke, women are seeking other forms of relief. Many physicians will prescribe HRT only for the most recalcitrant symptoms of menopause and usually for the short term, a maximum of three years.

Herbal Remedies
With so much negative reporting about hormone therapy, many women search for natural cures. There are several types of herbs that can be used to help control night sweats. While these are great solutions for many women, you must arm yourself with information about what form of the herb is suggested for your symptom, what are the average and maximum dosages, and what are the side effects and warnings. As with any medication, check with your doctor.

Herbal remedies are marketed and sold as dietary supplements and regulated by FDA as foods. This means that manufacturers do not have to prove that a supplement is safe or effective, and, as compared with drugs, there could be variability in ingredient amounts and/or quality in each lot produced. As long as you're informed, you'll be ready to make a decision.

  • Black cohosh, derived from the buttercup, is an herb used for hundreds of years by American Indians. This herb is known to help give some relief from both hot flashes and depression. Yet there are conflicting studies whether or not this herb truly works. Liver damage has been reported with use of black cohosh. In addition, if you are pregnant, nursing, or suffer from abdominal pain you shouldn't take this herb. Consult the NIH website for a thorough discussion on black cohosh. 
  • Licorice root extract (not the candy) has been traditionally used to help women by increasing their progesterone. Licorice has a steroid that can help regulate a woman's estrogen. The overuse of licorice root has been linked to high blood pressure, fatigue, and headaches. If you suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, or liver disease you should not take this root.
  • Tincture of motherwort has been shown to relieve night sweats along with stress and anxiety. It is a native of Europe but found in Asia and North America. The recommendation is to make tea with motherwort and drink 1-3 cups of it a day for three months. Pregnant or nursing women should not take motherwort.

Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathic remedies are another way to control your hot flashes without the use of HRT. Practitioners who use these naturally occurring substances believe that by administering miniscule doses of substances that actually cause these symptoms in a healthy person, you can cure a sick person. Homeopathic remedies, which number approximately 2000, is not a new treatment, but rather had its birth in the 1790's. As always, be your own best advocate and do your homework before self-medicating with anything besides chicken soup.

  • Lachesis will help with both the hot flashes as well the insomnia a woman suffers from menopause. It was derived from a snake's venom by Constantine Hering.
  • Calcarea Carbonica is a great way to help a woman control night sweats. It is made from the middle layer of shells and pounded into a fine powder.
  • Sepia is from the inky juice of cuttlefish. It will help you relieve the hot flashes, along with other menopausal symptoms.

Other helpful hints

Adding exercise and a healthy diet to your daily routine can assist controlling hot flashes. Certain things can trigger hot flashes: drinking alcohol or caffeine, hot tubs or showers, and smoking. Try taking a cool shower before bed, use cotton sheets and moisture wicking pajamas.

These are several ways you can control night sweats, you have to choose the best remedy for you. See HFN's more detailed discussion on homeopathic remedies in the Alternative section of Treatments & Therapies. ♀

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