Updated: May 4
You may remember your first one or now can't remember when they started as they feel like they've gone on for so long now. The nightly routine can differ greatly for women from those that do 'leg in, leg out' temperature control to those that have to get up and have a shower, change clothes and bedding after feeling like a bucket of water has been chucked over them. Not only is it miserable, it's utterly exhausting, the continual interrupted sleep when our energy is already low; and for some, just dreading going to bed. The time when we should be resting and recuperating which is much needed through the menopause transition years, is the time that has become most disrupted.
But what if I said you can take control of your night sweats and ease them?
Firstly though, let me explain exactly what they are. They need to be parted from Hot Flushes though both come on with the perimenopause years they have different root causes and can be dealt with separately, and the reason I'm explaining about night sweats is because they are the easiest to alleviate!
Hormonal change is one of the underlying causes of why night sweats happen at this time in our life, but the other cause is what you eat and drink; and this you can manage, and therefore this you can alter to relieve the intensity of your sweating through the night.
The Magic Hours
Between 1 and 4am, this is when you wake up sweating right? maybe around 3am (give or take an hour for GMT changes!) ; but WHY do they happen at this time of night?
Surely if all women getting sweats get them at the same time there is some basic biological reason? And there is, it is the time of night that your liver is running through its cleansing routine. All of our vital organs have a 2 hour slot within the 24 hour cycle where they switch on and do some processing/cleansing, and for the liver it is 1 to 3am. During the early hours the liver is trying to remove toxins from your blood that have built up during the day, plus you may have toxins still in your blood from previous days and weeks, and a build up over years if you haven't ever done any specific liver cleansing (which for a majority of us, we just haven't!).
As we get older we don't need the extra energy that we get from food in the form of sugars, we also may be drinking alcohol, juices, fizzy drinks and caffeine, these all add stimulants and energy into the body that we can't use up. When the liver wakes up to processes sugars and cleanse your blood it stores the excess sugar as belly fat and as its now working very hard, much harder than when you were younger; like an engine, it has to run fast and pump harder... and what happens to any engine that's running at a high capacity?
It gets hot!
These are your night sweats and you can completely control them by looking at what you eat and drink in the evening. Removing carbohydrates like potatoes, pasta, rice and bread really does make a difference. Also look at your alcohol intake, maybe enjoy a really good wine with a weekend meal, eating and drinking it earlier in the day. During the week, keep the carbs (and therefore sugars lower), switch to a Gin and Slim line Tonic instead of wine, or for the best health give your liver some nights that are alcohol free - YOU WILL begin to notice the difference, I know this because this is how I stopped my night sweats, I realised the link between food and drink!
HOW TO HELP YOUR LIVER
As well as helping your liver by looking at what you put in, you can also help by flushing out. You may have heard about having a half a lemon (or lime) squeezed into warm water? You have this first thing in the morning before ANYTHING else, and leave at least 30 minutes before you eat or drink anything. Lemon is a powerful antioxidant and helps remove the toxins from your blood and flush it out in your wee. Do this everyday for a week, along with streamlining your eating and see if the night sweats start to alter? Keep on doing this and you will be able to alleviate the intensity of your sweats if not diminish them altogether!
Do you eat really healthily and still get night sweats?
I have some clients that visit me who are in this category and they need something slightly different, my question is - Do you feel the cold? Women that tend to eat very healthily but get cold sweating at night need their lower backs warmed. I know it sounds counter-intuitive but its worth a try isn't it? Take a warm bottle to bed, or use a heat mat/electric blanket and warm your mid to lower back until you feel comfortable, you may really notice sweats easing :)
For further information on helping you understand and ease symptoms, please visit my new online guide (it's like a book - but easy access from your phone and regularly updated!:
Andrea Marsh is a Shiatsu and Chinese Medicine Practitioner specialising in helping women understand and alleviate symptoms during any stage of the menopause and midlife health issues. You can contact Andrea to arrange an online consultation here and she now has her popular online guide here.