Night sweats

Sign 37

Night sweats - GenM Sign

Night sweats are one of the most common signs of menopause. Oestrogen fluctuations can trigger changes to bodily temperature regulation. Even the slightest environmental change can lead to excessive sweating. Experiencing night sweats disrupts your quality of sleep, often soaking bed sheets and night clothes.

Try to keep your bedroom cool with air ventilation or fans, and consider using thermo-regulating and moisture-wicking bedding. Avoiding hot drinks, spicy foods, and alcohol will also help – especially before bed.

You’re not alone. The nocturnal equivalent of hot flushes, it’s estimated that night sweats visit up to 75% of perimenopausal and menopausal women.

But what causes night sweats in the menopause? Here’s the science bit. As your oestrogen levels going up and down, your hypothalamus (your brain’s thermostat) gets confused. It thinks you are hot, so it sets off your body’s own sprinkler system – your sweat glands.

As well as this feeling of intense heat, you can experience an irregular heartbeat.

Our advice and guidance

So can anything help with night sweats in the menopause?

If this is happening to you, there is hope. There are things you can do, and lifestyle changes you can make, to ease the severity of night sweats and reclaim a comfortable, dry, restful bed.

  • Take a holistic approach

    Check out our top tips for reducing hot flushes during the day.

    How you treat yourself during the day has a direct impact on your comfort at night. Avoiding spicy food, alcohol, caffeine and smoking can help your body regulate its heating system. Regular exercise can help you de-stress and maintain a healthy weight.

    None of this is rocket science. But the fewer stresses on your whole body, and the healthier you can be 24/7, the better your body will cope as your hormone levels fluctuate.

  • Keep it light

    You may have to abandon your favourite PJs.

    Keep your bedclothes light, or even better – go starkers. If you can’t stand the thought of being a nudey rudey, then wear loose, lightweight layered nightwear that you can take off or put back on easily.

    Oh and don’t forget to turn your heating down and pop a fan by your bed in case. Turning your pillow over if you’re hot and restless can keep your face on the cool side.

  • Invest in two single duvets

    This is another great bedroom idea if you share yours with someone. Buy two single duvets (at the togs you both individually prefer), rather than sleeping under a double.

    This way, if you get too hot in the night, you can kick yours off leaving while your partner stays tucked up in theirs. Although you might not be having the most blissful night’s sleep, it may make for a more blissful day which doesn’t involve an argument about bedsheets.

  • Create a calming routine

    What’s your usual preparation for bed? Are you on your phone? Watching TV or working ‘til late on the computer?

    Even though we cognitively know that this is a rubbish foundation for a good night’s kip – we still do all the wrong things as we attempt to sandwich as much as we can into our day.

    Avoid screens at least a couple of hours before trying to drift off, as the blue light they emit tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime. Relax with a book, do a meditation, anything that will tell your body that it’s time for sleep. Bedtime routines work wonders for toddlers – why not you?

  • Get some herbal help

    What can you take for night sweats due to the menopause? Natural remedies like valerian can help your body and mind relax at night.

    Other supplements can be taken with caution. Black cohosh can be used for a short time to alleviate hot flushes or night sweats. But this remedy can upset your stomach and cause abnormal bleeding, and shouldn’t be taken if you have a liver problem.

    Evening primrose can also help your hypothalamus but could make you feel sick and give you a runny bum and shouldn’t be taken by people on blood thinners.

    Eating flax seed or taking a flaxseed supplement or oil (also called linseed oil) can also help to reduce the incidence and severity of sudden sweats in the day or night.

  • Talk to your GP about HRT

    If your night sweats are severe, your doctor might recommend you take HRT.

    Hormone Replacement Therapy – HRT for short – essentially does what it says on the tin. It replaces the hormones that your body is naturally losing due to the menopause, helping reduce your symptoms.

    There are a number of ways you can take HRT medications, including tablets, patches and creams. Most women can take HRT but there are some risks, which your doctor should discuss with you.

  • Our advice to them

    Avoiding spicy food, caffeine, alcohol and smoking to help the body regulate its heating system are all included in our recommendations for them

    Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) may also help their hormones and body thermostat settle down. It will help too if they create a calming routine before bed and slips under the sheets wearing lightweight nightwear.

  • Suggest a supplement

    Some people find black cohosh, evening primrose or flaxseed oil supplements can ease their night sweats. Natural remedies like valerian could help her relax at night too.

    Why not gently ask if they have tried anything like that? 

  • Be a considerate bed partner

    If you share a bed with someone who’s having night sweats, we get it – it’s annoying for you. But honestly, it’s more annoying for them, because they know you’re lying there not dealing with this nonsense.

    Talk about using two separate single duvets or even different beds if disruptions during the night are causing arguments during the day. Whatever you do, make sure it’s right for your relationship, and that you’re in 100% agreement.

  • Hand over control of the heating

    Okay, so you may end up needing to pull on an extra layer or the opposite and find yourself walking round the house in your undies clutching a battery-powered fan.

    But allowing her to set the temperature to what she’s most comfortable at can work wonders for hot flushes, cold flashes,night sweats and harmony within the household. It’s not forever (and if it’s the former, imagine how much you’ll save on the heating bill.)

  • Make them comfy

    Is there anything you can do to make them more physically comfortable?

    It could be as simple as opening a window, switching on the fan, getting them a glass of water or flipping the pillow to the cold side. What do they need? Why don’t you ask them?

  • Don’t assume

    You may be thrilled that your partner is coming to bed without her PJs… but are they?

    Before you set off the party poppers, make sure you’ve clocked how they are feeling about their night sweats. Are they comfortable? Are they self-conscious? You may think they look super sexy – but they may feel more like hiding away.

    If you’re worried about night sweats, you should see your GP who can discuss your symptoms in the context of the menopause.

    If you’d like more information, we have put some further references below for you:

General information

You can also find more general information about the menopause transition at the British Menopause Society and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.