10 Ways to Get Relief From Menopausal Night Sweats

Last updated 01.15.2024 | by Dr. Karen Pike | 11 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


Night sweats are a common condition that affects more than 40% of adults. There are a variety of underlying conditions that can cause this sleep-disruptive symptom, but the most common reason it happens is menopause.

Although menopause-related night sweats are normal, they can seriously disrupt your sleep and affect the quality of your day-to-day life. So, learning how to manage this symptom and find relief is essential. 

I know firsthand just how disruptive they can be. I experienced hot flashes and nocturnal hyperhidrosis frequently throughout my menopausal journey. The problem would keep me awake long past my bedtime, and I’d often wake up in the night with my clothes and bedsheets soaked through. I had an endless pile of laundry to get through, and I rarely felt like I’d had enough sleep. 

Thankfully, I found several ways to ease my night sweats and reduce their severity and frequency, and now, I’m determined to help other women do the same.

So, are you waking up covered in sweat and struggling to drift off back to sleep? Do you miss the days of dry bed sheets and a guaranteed good night’s sleep? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Millions of women report having hot flashes and are in the same boat, and in this post, I’ll share some tried and tested ways to find relief.

What Are Menopausal Night Sweats?

Many women experiencing menopause are familiar with hot flashes symptoms. That uncomfortable wave of heat sweeps across your body at seemingly random intervals throughout the day. But did you know that night sweats are actually the same phenomenon? The only difference is that they occur during sleep.

During this situation, the blood vessels in the body expand. This leads to a sudden increase in blood flow, which in turn, creates heat. And with heat comes excess perspiration, even in a cool environment.

What Causes Menopausal Night Sweats?

Menopausal hot flashes and night sweats are caused by a disruption to the body’s usual hormone levels. During menopause, hormones like estrogen and progesterone levels plummet. The decrease in these reproductive hormones also leads to a change in other hormones that regulate our internal thermostats.

This disruption can trigger the body to enter a cool-down mode, and excess perspiration occurs.

The ambient temperature doesn’t have to be particularly warm for this phenomenon to occur. In fact, I speak with many women who still experience severe symptoms of hot flashes and hidrosis during the night even when the weather is chilly and the thermostat is dialed down low. 

10 Ways to Manage and Reduce Menopausal Night Sweats

10 Ways to Manage and Reduce Menopausal Night Sweats

While there is no one-size-fits-all cure for menopausal night sweats, thankfully, help is out there. 

When I was battling it during perimenopause and menopause, I was desperate to find a solution. So, I began exploring the latest science around vasomotor symptoms and studied women reports who were suffering from the same issue.

Through my research, I discovered several interventions and lifestyle changes that have made a big difference both for me and millions of other women around the globe. 

Below, I’ll share 10 tried and tested tips that can help reduce the frequency and severity of the problem, and put you on your journey to sleep success.

1. Keep Your Bedroom Cool

Of course, it’s still possible to suffer from hidrosis in a chilly bedroom. But if you’re used to sleeping in a warm environment, dropping the thermostat by a few degrees can make a big difference.

The Cleveland Clinic recommends maintaining an ambient bedroom temperature of between 60 and 67 degrees F. While this may not eliminate the problem, it can lead to less perspiration and disrupted night’s sleep.

2. Use Cooling Pads and Ice Packs

If keeping your bedroom within the ideal temperature range isn’t possible, consider a cooling gel mattress pad and pillow pad. You can also slip an ice pack under your pillow to pull out when a hot flash strikes.

3. Opt for Natural Fiber Bedding and Clothing

Synthetic materials such as polyester can trap heat and exacerbate hidrosis at night. Instead, choose a natural fiber material such as bamboo. Bamboo sheets and clothing are 100% natural and breathable, and most importantly, they also dry quickly. Cotton is another popular choice for cooling bedding. However, pure cotton bedsheets hold moisture for much longer than bamboo-based material. So, bear this in mind when choosing fabrics to combat sweating at night. 

4. Dress Down for Bed

If you usually wear multiple layers and long sleeves to bed, try switching to something lighter and cooler. While you may feel slightly too cool before you drift off to sleep, you’ll soon warm up. And, crucially, those excess layers won’t send your inner thermostat into overdrive.

5. Keep Dry Sheets and Clothes by Your Bedside

If you regularly wake up drenched in sweat, you know just how unpleasant it can be to try to fall back asleep in wet clothing. To make matters worse, once a hot flash has passed, your body’s temperature regulation can swing too far in the opposite direction, leaving you feeling cold.

So, when heat and hidrosis during the night were disrupting my sleep, I made sure to keep a set of clean and dry PJs, sheets, and a blanket by the side of my bed. This way, if I woke up drenched in sweat during the night, I could quickly change my clothes and bedding and drift off comfortably once again.

6. Drink Water Regularly

While drinking water alone won’t cure your hidrosis episodes that happen at night, it will stop you from dehydrating when nighttime perspiration occurs. For an extra cooling bonus, add a few cubes of ice to your water and keep a glass on the nightstand by your bed.

7. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

Even at the best of times, too much coffee and alcohol can impact your sleep. However, during menopause, these substances are even more detrimental.

Caffeine appears to increase the dilation of blood vessels, which is the major driving force behind severe hot flashes or night sweating. It’s also known to raise heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. So, if you routinely drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks in the afternoons, try limiting yourself to one cup in the morning. Or even better, eliminate them entirely to see how your symptoms improve. I personally noticed a significant reduction in the frequency and severity of my hidrosis when I cut out caffeine.

Research by Dr. Juliana Kling, a Women’s Health Specialist at the Mayo Clinic, also suggests that alcohol is bad news. It can worsen vasomotor menopause symptoms and also cause night sweats. Plus, drinking excess alcohol during menopause can lead to risk factors of developing osteoporosis and other more serious conditions such as increased risk of heart disease.

8. Add Natural Supplements and Whole Foods to Your Diet

A wide variety of natural supplements and whole foods have been suggested to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes and menopausal sweats during the nighttime.

Some of the most common are listed below:

  • Black cohosh: This herb, also known as rattleweed, bugbane, and black snakeroot, is a traditional Native American remedy that has been used to ease symptoms of menopause. Medical research to date has not proven any clear benefit, and the American College of OB/GYN Physicians does not recommend it.
  • Evening primrose: Regular supplementation with evening primrose oil or capsules is thought to boost hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins. Prostaglandins can help counteract the hormonal disruptions responsible for excessive sweating and other troublesome menopausal symptoms.
  • Pycnogenol (pine bark): New findings suggest that pine bark can significantly reduce a whole host of menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms, including hidrosis and hot flashes during nighttime. This supplement boasts several beneficial mechanisms, including the reduction of blood vessel hyperactivity.
  • Red clover: Red clover contains isoflavones, a compound that functions in a similar way to estrogen. Since menopausal sweating is due to a drop in estrogen levels, regular supplementation with this natural herb may help to alleviate the symptoms. Red clover is also used to treat menopause-related bone loss that can lead to osteoporosis.
  • Soybeans and soy products: A meta-analysis of multiple randomized controlled trials has shown that regular soy consumption significantly decreases the severity and frequency of hot flashes in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. This is thought to be due to their high content of phytoestrogens.
  • Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds also contain phytoestrogens, so they provide similar estrogen-boosting benefits as soy. One study showed that hot flashes and perspiration were significantly reduced after consuming 40 grams a day of ground, whole flaxseeds.

Natural supplements and whole foods may be used to manage menopausal symptoms. However, many have not been rigorously studied, and, in general, are not as carefully monitored for safety as pharmaceuticals. Just because something is “natural”, does not make it “safe”.

Many interact with other foods, herbal remedies, or medications. Always consult your doctor before trying any new supplement.

9. Try Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been used to treat countless symptoms, disorders, and diseases for millennia, and menopausal night sweating is no exception. And in recent years, Western medicine has finally begun to embrace the use of acupuncture for the relief of menopausal symptoms.

Proponents claim that acupuncture treats the underlying causes of this by restoring the body’s natural harmony. It can also help relieve stress, anxiety, and other mood disorders that are commonly seen among women during menopause.

10. Talk to Your Doctor

Frequent night sweats can also affect your ability to sleep and you should talk to your doctor. They’ll provide support and may suggest over-the-counter or prescription medications that can help.

Some prescription medications that are commonly used for women suffering from this issue include:

  • HRT, or hormone replacement therapy
  • Low doses of antidepressants such as fluoxetine, paroxetine, or venlafaxine
  • The anti-seizure drug gabapentin
  • The blood drug medication clonidine
  • Brisdelle, a paroxetine(SSRI) based drug used to treat hot flashes 
  • Duavee, a conjugated estrogens/bazedoxifene formula is used for relieving symptoms of hot flashes and preventing postmenopausal osteoporosis

Your doctor may also suggest over-the-counter medications such as vitamin E, vitamin B, and ibuprofen or other effective treatment options. Therapy can also help to overcome the issue. 

FAQs

Q. How long will menopausal night sweats last?

At one time, it was thought that menopausal symptoms like this disappeared after a maximum of around two years after menopause.
However, many women have different experiences. It can last for several years after the date of your final period.
The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) found that women who were overweight, former smokers, stressed, or suffering from depression or anxiety were more likely to experience these vasomotor symptoms for a longer time.
Women who have hot flashes and night sweats that occur earlier in perimenopause experienced their symptoms for an average of 9-10 years. Yet for those who only noticed them after their final period, the symptoms stayed for an average of just 3.5 years.

Q. Do all menopausal women suffer from night sweats?

No. Not all women will suffer from this during their menopausal journey. Nor will they necessarily experience hot flashes occurring at day or night. 
But flashes are the most common symptoms of the menopausal transition period. They affect around 75% of us at some point during post-menopause, menopause, and perimenopause. That leaves a quarter of women who will be fortunate enough to swerve them completely.  

Q. When should I be worried about night sweats?

It is a normal part of menopause, and most women may experience night sweats to some degree during this menopausal transition time.
In rare cases, it can be a sign of a serious underlying condition. If you also notice any of the following symptoms alongside hidrosis, visit your doctor as they can suggest treatment that can help. 
Unintentional weight loss
Fever and chills
Weakness and fatigue
Bone pain
Stomach pain
Swollen lymph nodes

Conclusion

Night sweats are one of the most troublesome symptoms for women going through menopause. These nocturnal hot flushes can leave you feeling cold, clammy, and uncomfortable. And worst of all, they can greatly impact your sleep.

Thankfully, several interventions can help to lessen the symptoms. And in some cases, even get rid of hidrosis during nighttime altogether.

Remember, you don’t have to suffer alone if you’re struggling with this problem. Try the tips above, and talk to your doctor to find an effective treatment for hot flashes and excessive perspiration that works for you.

References:

Author

  • Dr. Karen Pike

    Dr. Pike is a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. She received her undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and played collegiate soccer. She attended Georgetown University for medical school and performed her residency in emergency medicine at Stanford University. She was part of the first-ever, women-majority emergency medicine program in United States. Dr. Pike is also the primary medical consultant for “Grey’s Anatomy,” a role she has held since the pilot episode when she partnered with Shonda Rhimes as the show’s original medical consultant. At her hospital, she was the second woman Chief of Staff. Today serves as the Director of the Emergency Department. Whether in leadership or direct patient care, her dedication to excellence in communication, quality, and collaboration is unwavering.