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A night sweat is essentially a hot flash you have during sleep. Night sweats can be mild (waking up with slight perspiration) or severe (waking up with drenched sheets, pillow, pajamas and hair).
Night sweats are one of the most common symptoms of perimenopause (the first stage of menopause) and often appear even before periods become irregular. You may experience night sweats before or after your first hot flash. They may happen more often at a certain point in your menstrual cycle, or they can come and go with no obvious trigger.
How long you have them depends on how much time your body takes to transition through perimenopause and menopause. The menopausal transition usually lasts about seven years but can last as long as 14 years.
On their own, night sweats are not damaging. They’re a natural response to an increase in body temperature. However, severe night sweats can rob you of sleep, which impacts your relationships, mood, work and even thinking.
Manage night sweats with simple lifestyle changes.
Strategies to reduce stress include:
Don’t smoke. Smoking makes it harder for your body to cool itself. Women who smoke are more likely to get both night sweats and hot flashes.
Maintain a healthy weight. Fat adds insulation, making it harder for your body to adjust to temperature swings. Every woman’s body is different, but for some, losing even as little as five pounds can help reduce the frequency and severity of night sweats.
Regular exercise also helps maintain healthy sleep cycles and improve quality and quantity of sleep.
If night sweats affect your quality of life, talk to your doctor. You may benefit from one or more of these treatments.
Many studies have shown that acupuncture and yoga can reduce hot flashes and night sweats.
Night sweats are caused by changing levels of estrogen and, to a lesser extent, progesterone. These changes affect the part of the brain that regulates body temperature, appetite, sex hormones and sleep.
This is perfectly normal. Many women experience night sweats before ever experiencing a hot flash, and some women with night sweats never experience hot flashes at all.
That will depend, in part, on how long your body takes to transition through perimenopause and menopause. The menopausal transition usually lasts about seven years but can last as long as 14 years.
On their own, night sweats are not damaging—they are just instances of the body’s natural response to an increase in internal temperature. However, severe and recurring night sweats can impact relationships, sleep, mood, work and even cognition.
Talk to a care navigator or schedule an appointment at the Women’s Health & Wellness Center.