If you’re experiencing menopause night sweats, you’re not alone. So what causes them, how long do they last, and what can you do about them? Read on.
Here’s the deal — more than 80% of women experience menopause night sweats, hot flashes, or both.
It’s a significant part of this normal life transition.
So if you’re in the throws of them right now, know you’re far from alone.
Of course, that doesn’t make them any less uncomfortable, but it may help to know that you’re part of a global community that’s feeling the heat.
(If you need support through all this, we’ve got you.
Join our menopause community.
We’re having all the conversations you might want to have.)
So let’s dive into it.
What exactly are menopause night sweats, how long might they last, and what can you do to make yourself more comfortable?
Here’s what you need to know about menopause and night sweats.
In this article: 📝
- What causes menopause night sweats?
- How do I know if my night sweats are from menopause?
- Why do menopausal sweats happen at night?
- How long do menopause night sweats last?
- How can I stop night sweats during menopause?
What causes menopause night sweats?
Menopause night sweats are basically hot flashes that happen at night.
Unfortunately, beyond being uncomfortable, they can also get in the way of a good night’s sleep.
Together with hot flashes, heart palpitations, and anxiety, menopause night sweats are known as vasomotor symptoms.
They happen because your blood vessels get bigger (dilate) and tighten (constrict).
Hot flashes feel like a surge of intense heat you’re likely to feel most intensely in your face, neck, and chest.
Night sweats are sometimes accompanied by a rapid heartbeat and might be followed by the chills.
And yep, they can leave you and your bed sheets more than a little damp.
And why does this happen?
Well, like most things menopause, hormones are at the helm here.
As you near menopause — that’s the time when you haven’t menstruated for twelve months — your sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, do a little dance before halting production completely.
While we’re still not sure exactly what role this hormonal yo-yo plays in the rising heat, we do know that estrogen appears to be linked to the whole saga.
This important hormone helps regulate several different circuits in our central nervous systems (that’s the combo of your brain and spinal cord).
And it may have a role in our temperature control.
How do I know if my night sweats are from menopause?
While night sweats are common over the menopause transition, there are other reasons why you might be having them.
That’s why it’s really important to check in with your doctor if you are experiencing uncomfortable symptoms.
For one, they’ll be able to rule out other causes.
And they’ll also be able to help you get the treatment you may need to be more comfortable.
Some other possible causes of night sweats are:
- Viral infections like colds and flu
- Anxiety and panic disorders
- Hyperhidrosis, a disorder where you sweat excessively
- An overactive thyroid
- Sleep disorders like sleep apnea
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Bacterial infections like endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart
- Infectious diseases like tuberculosis
- Cancer and cancer treatments
- Effects of substances like alcohol and drugs
- Some medications
Why do menopausal sweats happen at night?
It’s common for menopause symptoms — and hot flashes, in particular — to be worse at night.
This may be because our hormones fluctuate even more drastically at night.
But it could also just be the temperature in our rooms or our bodies processing something we’ve consumed during the day.
(We’ll get to what to do about this in a moment.)
Whatever the reason, they can cause you to wake up, sometimes multiple times at night, or make it hard for you to fall asleep.
How long do menopause night sweats last?
According to the North American Menopause Society, they tend to last an average of between six months and two years.
But some research suggests that they can last for more than ten years in some people.
Either way, they can take up a chunk of your time — so it’s important we give them the attention they deserve.
How can I stop night sweats during menopause?
If you want to know how to stop menopause night sweats, the good news is that there are both medications and lifestyle adjustments that can help.
Many women look for hormone support and may choose hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for hot flashes and night sweats.
And there are a number of options for this type of medication that the FDA has approved.
But it’s important to note that these treatments are not without their side effects.
And they can increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks, blood clots, and certain cancers for some women.
So the best thing to do is check in with your doctor to see if this is a suitable option for you.
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a type of antidepressant, are also used to treat hot flashes.
They’re not without their side effects either, so again, chat with your healthcare provider about whether this might be right for you.
And then there are also some lifestyle changes you can make a difference.
The National Institute on Aging recommends trying these first, before opting for medication:
- Avoid anything that might trigger or make your symptoms worse, like alcohol, spicy foods, cigarettes, and caffeine.
- Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.
- Layer your bedding so that if you need to throw off a blanket in the middle of the night, you have a light sheet ready.
- Keep a glass of cold water next to your bed that’s ready to sip if you need it through the night.
- Pop a cold pack underneath your pillow. If you need, turn the pillow over in the middle of the night. ❄️
- Use a fan when you need it and, weather permitting, open up your windows.
- Try mind-body practices like meditation. Some early research suggests they may go a long way in helping reduce the effects of hot flashes and night sweats.
- Fit in some exercise to help reduce stress and get a good night’s sleep.
Finally, be kind to yourself.
Seek support when you need it — whether in the form of a counselor, friend, or your Peanut community.
Menopause is a completely normal part of life, but the pain and discomfort that can come with it can be debilitating.
Fortunately, we don’t have to suffer through it alone.