Why are hot flashes worse at night?: Hot flashes are a common symptom that affects many people, particularly women, during menopause. Did you know that up to 85% of women experience hot flashes and night sweats during menopause? Let’s understand why hot flashes are more frequent at night and what we can do to manage them.
Hot flashes at night
Hot flashes that occur at night are called night sweats. They can cause disruptions in sleep, leading to fatigue and decreased quality of life. The same factors cause night sweats as hot flashes, which are related to changes in hormone levels and fluctuations in body temperature regulation.
Treatment options for night sweats are similar to those for hot flashes, including hormone replacement therapy, non-hormonal medications and lifestyle changes such as avoiding triggers and practising relaxation techniques.
Additionally, some people find relief by keeping the room cool, using breathable bedding, dressing in lightweight clothing and avoiding caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.
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Ever found yourself wondering, why are hot flashes worse at night? We’ll talk you through the causes of hot flashes and how to manage them. Hot flashes are a common symptom of the menopause, or peri-menopause, causing discomfort to many women. Occurring at any time of the night and day, hot flashes cause an uncomfortable warm sensation and red flush that spreads across the body, often starting from the face, neck and chest.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, experiencing these hot flashes at night can cause excessive sweating leading to soaked bedding and a broken night’s sleep for both you and your partner. And this lack of sleep can affect all areas of life causing fatigue, confusion and other health problems.
Here, we set out to answer the question, why are hot flashes worse at night for some women?
What are hot flashes?
It’s not known exactly why hot flashes occur, but it is thought to be something to do with spikes in hormones, such as estrogen, that occur when a woman is reaching the end of her fertile period. There is a theory that the body tries to give itself a fertility boost in the period prior to menopause, to make the most of its last chance at reproduction.
These erratic hormone surges are thought to affect the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which is responsible for temperature control, kind of like a thermostat. This can mean your body thinks, mistakenly, that it’s too hot and works to cool itself down by opening up blood vessels in the skin to release excess heat. This causes the familiar red flush. Of course, the other mechanism the body uses for cooling is perspiration, which can cause extreme discomfort and anxiety for women in a variety of situations.
What are the causes of hot flashes at night?
Hot flashes and night sweats are caused by changes in hormone levels and fluctuations in body temperature regulation. It is not well understood why these symptoms may be more frequent and worse at night, but there are a few theories.
Why Are Hot Flashes Worse at Night ?
One theory is that the body’s internal temperature regulation mechanisms may be disrupted during sleep, increasing the likelihood of hot flashes and night sweats. This can be due to the decline of estrogen levels, which usually helps to regulate body temperature.
Another theory is that the body’s circadian rhythm, or internal clock, may play a role. The body’s internal temperature naturally dips during the night, and this may trigger hot flashes and night sweats. Other factors, such as stress, anxiety, and poor sleep quality, can also exacerbate hot flashes and night sweats at night. For example, suppose an individual is already stressed, anxious or has poor sleep quality. In that case, the hot flashes and night sweats can worsen these conditions, leading to a vicious cycle of sleep disturbances and hot flashes.
Every individual might have different triggers. While some may find that they have hot flashes and night sweats more frequently at night, others may not experience this, and the symptom may occur randomly.
Relief from hot flashes
There are several options for relief from hot flashes. Some common treatments include:
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT): This treatment involves taking hormones, such as estrogen, to help regulate the body’s hormone levels and reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
- Non-hormonal medications: Some medications, such as antidepressants, can help reduce hot flashes.
- Lifestyle changes: Avoiding triggers such as spicy foods, hot environments, and stress can help reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Practising relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, and meditation can also be helpful.
- Complementary therapies: Some people find relief from hot flashes using complementary therapies such as acupuncture, herbal supplements, and soy products.
- Natural remedies: Black cohosh, Dong Quai and red clover are some of the herbs that have been used to relieve hot flashes symptoms.
If you are experiencing night sweats, it could also be a symptom of other underlying medical conditions. Talking to a healthcare provider before starting any treatment is essential and recommended, as all remedial options may have different effects and side effects. They will help you choose the best options according to your needs, medical history and overall health condition.
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