Menopause can bring with it a huge assortment of different symptoms and side effects ranging from headaches to bloating to mood swings. No two women will experience menopause the same way, and the combination of different side effects of “The Change” will vary greatly from woman to woman. Of all the various menopausal symptoms women experience, hot flashes and night sweats are the most common.
Night sweats are essentially nothing more than hot flashes that occur at night, and they can be just as frustrating as those that occur during the day – even more frustrating in many cases because they’ll often cause loss of sleep and other issues to occur as well. Understanding a bit more about this problem could help you figure out how to at least reduce the frequency of its occurrence.
Basically, hot flashes are sensations of heat that pass over the body. They can occur without warning and last a few seconds or as long as ten minutes. They can range in intensity from mild to incredibly severe, and some women have reported it feeling like they’re being ‘cooked alive’ – though hot flashes this intense are rare. This issue can occur throughout the night as well, and are often referred to as night sweats as well as simply ‘hot flashes at night’.
Essentially, hot flashes are caused by the brain deciding that the body needs a lower temperature in order to be at its optimum level. This sends signals throughout the body that cause the heart rate to increase, circulation to increase, and sweat glands to open around the body. This leads to the hot flash that so many suffer from, and it’s essentially confusion between the brain and the body.
That confusion is triggered by a decreased level of estrogen in the body. This decrease occurs as a major part of menopause, and since estrogen is responsible for helping maintain the temperature-regulating part of your brain, the reduced levels of the hormone will cause this to occur. There are numerous specific triggers that can set off a hot flash, including things like alcohol, hot drinks, or tight clothing. In the case of hot flashes at night, the warmth that builds up underneath blankets can often cause the night sweats and hot flashes to occur. In other words, just getting nice and warm at night can actually trigger the hot flash you’re trying to avoid.
The body goes through tremendous changes throughout menopause, and gradually most women experience fewer and fewer hot flashes and eventually they will stop altogether in most cases. A small percentage of women experience them for many years following menopause, but usually you can expect relief to gradually occur. To help balance out the levels of estrogen in the body, many women utilize things like red clover, chaste berry, and kudzu herbal supplements. These may help improve hormone balances and reduce the occurrence of hot flashes.
They call menopause “The Change” for a good reason – it really does involve a huge variety of changes within your body and mind. Hot flashes are just one side effect that will occur as these changes happen, and while they’re uncomfortable and frustrating they will eventually dissipate as your body normalizes its hormone levels and menopause ends.