Do you get hot flashes or night sweats? If you do then the chances are that you are getting poor quality sleep at night, and increasing the risk of the many health issues associated with poor sleep.
Most people associate hot flashes and night sweats with menopause and this article will focus on how women during the menopause years can sleep better if they are experiencing hot flashes or night sweats.
But if your a guy who is experiencing night sweats then many of the lifestyle tips will help you also.
75-85% of women can experience hot flashes during menopause, for many women these hot flashes can be mild. It may be just a few minor changes that are needed to your diet, or the addition of some natural supplements to reduce hot flashes and everything is under control.
However, if you are experiencing moderate to severe hot flashes this article will give you all of the information on how to reduce hot flashes and sleep better.
Despite decades of research the exact mechanism that causes hot flashes is unknown - we do know that the drop in estrogen around menopause is a major contributing factor and that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one of the most effective ways to reduce hot flashes.
However hot flashes can last from a few months to many years before disappearing, yet estrogen levels remain low for the rest of your life, so it is the sudden drop in estrogen rather than low estrogen that can trigger hot flashes.
The hypothalamus region of the brain controls temperature regulation, and hot flashes are associated with excessive vasodilation, this causes increased blood flow to the skin, especially around the face and upper body.
This increased blood flow to the skin causes the hot flash which can last from a few seconds to several minutes. This can be sometimes accompanied by chills after the hot flash, especially if you are in bed and wake up with soaked bed sheets from your night sweats.
Not all women experience hot flashes and the severity can range from very mild to severe and there can be a number of risk factors that can increase the severity of hot flashes beside the changes in estrogen. The good news is that many of these risk factors can be modified.
Smoking is another risk factor that increases the severity of hot flashes, while this is a habit that is not easy to change if you are a smoker, if you can stop smoking it will have the biggest positive effect on many different aspects of your health.
A sedentary lifestyle increases the severity of hot flashes and night sweats, and the remedy is regular exercise which can also have many other positive health effects (just don’t exercise before bed)
A family history of menopause symptoms like hot flashes will increase the chances that you will also experience them, while changing your genetics is not possible the diet and lifestyle tips will lessen the severity.
A diet high in processed foods. Also, a quality diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables, in particular, phytoestrogen-rich foods like legumes, sprouts and herbs such as red clover will reduce hot flashes.
One of the standard methods to deal with symptomatic menopause is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Treatment with progesterone and estrogen is a safe and effective way to improve sleep and reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes and night sweats.
However, if you are at high risk of breast cancer, have a history of blood clots or have some other conditions, the doctor should always monitor your health levels in order to adjust the treatment to your personal needs and symptoms.
There is good evidence that SSRI and SNRI anti-depressants can be effective at reducing hot flashes but they have a lot of side effects plus a high risk for dependency. These types of medications I would consider a last resort as the risks of taking them outweigh the benefits, I would start with some of the natural treatment options that we will discuss soon.
Sleeping Pills can also help you “sleep” through the night but can also have many side effects, and they also don’t give you the same quality sleep so can have long term health consequences. Plus many sleeping pills can be addictive so you start to build up a dependency on these types of medications.
Get rid of the habit of surfing on the Internet before sleep, watching videos on Youtube or browsing the photos on Instagram. Blue light is one of your biggest enemies. It tricks your mind, pretending to be daylight and prevents you from falling asleep fast.
If you want to sleep better and reduce hot flashes, consider wearing blue light blocking glasses and eliminate social networks before sleep, instead read a paper book.
The reason why you don’t have a healthy sleep could be sleep apnea. It can be caused by many factors, including a small upper airway, being overweight, smoking and drinking alcohol.
The main symptom of apnea is chronic snoring but you may also experience difficulty concentrating, irritability, depression, learning and memory difficulties.
Note: It is recommended to check your partner because if they are snoring that will also negatively impact the quality of your sleep.
The chilliPAD is a well-designed sleep system that can help treat your sleep issues. It includes:
The OOLER is an advanced version of the chilliPAD and can boast of some additional features.
The memory foam can be hot, go for inner-spring or Latex mattress.
The latex mattress and innerspring mattresses have great air circulation and support a cooler sleeping temperature than the memory foam. These are also a good choice for a proper spinal alignment which can reduce muscle tension and help you get to sleep faster.
Take care of your mental health to have a healthy deep sleep and improved menopausal symptoms.
These are a few examples of self-calming techniques that can help you sleep better during hot flashes:
Soy is one of the reasons that Chinese and Japanese women are thought to have a low incidence of menopause as they have a diet high in natural soy, except when these same women move to the U.S and change their diet the incidence of menopausal symptoms increases.
Soy often has a bad image and with good reason, these days it is find in many highly processed foods like soy milk, soy flour and soybean oil and these foods are not found in a typical Japanese diet. It is the soy isoflavones that are important for reducing hot flashes and these can be found in traditionally made fermented soy products like Natto, Miso and Tofu.
Black Cohosh can reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes, this has been shown in research and Black Cohosh is often found in many menopause formulas because of the good results that it gives.
Red Clover - this is another herb rich in isoflavones that can effectively reduce menopause symptoms.
While the research on EPO is a bit thin many women report a lot of benefits and improvements in menopausal symptoms like hot flashes when they take it, this may be due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
Sometimes just focusing on sleep quality is the best option and there are some good supplements to help you get to sleep, or if you find yourself waking in the night I have some good options to help with this too.
Magnesium is probably the one supplement that most people would benefit from taking, especially if you have poor sleep or a high-stress life (who hasn’t?)
3 grams of glycine before bed is one of the best solutions for people who find themselves waking throughout the night. It can also help to improve sleep quality
CBD is fast becoming one of the most researched compounds for a wide variety of conditions and it is particularly beneficial for anxiety, plus research shows that it can also help to improve sleep quality
Theanine helps sleep quality by reducing anxiety and can also improve REM sleep
1 to 3 mg of melatonin can be effective in helping you get to sleep and stay asleep, especially if you tested for low levels of melatonin on the DUTCH hormone test
5-HTP can help with anxiety and depression as it is a precursor to making serotonin, it can also help to improve sleep quality as serotonin is a precursor to making melatonin.
Relora is a trademarked combination of Magnolia bark extract and Phellodendron bark extract and research shows that it can lower cortisol levels and anxiety. High cortisol at night is a big reason why you maybe struggling to sleep and I have seen many clients have improvement with Relora
If you are not sure if you have still in the peri-menopause stage or have transitioned into menopause then doing some testing can be a good way to know where your hormones are at.
Measuring Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) along with estrogen and progesterone is a good place to start.
Once you reach menopause the FSH and LH levels will rise significantly and the estrogen and progesterone levels will drop. One of the problems with blood testing is that sometimes it is not sensitive to assess the low levels of estrogen accurately and it often only tests for estradiol, and not estrone and estriol.
These blood tests can be done with a simple at home blood test kit from letsgetchecked.com
This is a comprehensive test of the sex hormones and also how estrogen is getting metabolized which can be an important factor in conditions such as fibroids and estrogen dominant cancers.
The DUTCH test also measures the adrenal hormones in detail as well as epinephrine levels (your flight of fight hormone), and elevations in these hormones can contribute to hot flashes
Michael is head consultant at Planet Naturopath - Functional Medicine and Nutrition Solutions. As Seen