Night sweats are hot flushes that occur while we’re asleep or trying to sleep. While typically associated with reduced oestrogen levels during the menopause, night sweats can occur in a variety of situations – e.g. due to reduced testosterone levels in middle-aged men, after spicy food, excessive exercise, migraines, alcohol, various neurological conditions, fever or allergic reactions, just to mention a few. Night sweats can really disturb our sleep quality and waking up in soaked nightwear and bedding is very distressing.
Here are some really useful ways to counter these dreaded night sweats…
- Avoid caffeinated drinks, alcohol and overly spicy food in the evening as these can all increase hot sweats. In addition, the two former also negatively affect sleep quality directly.
- Aid sweating by using a fan in your bedroom and/or by keeping the windows open at night.
- Use nightwear made from natural fibres such as cotton as they are more breathable than synthetic alternatives, thus helping to keep you from overheating.
- Choose natural fibre bedding. As with nightwear, your bedding – e.g. sheets and duvet covers should be made from natural fibres such as cotton as this will be more breathable than synthetic material. For duvet and pillow fillings, wool is an excellent choice as it can hold up to 35% of its own weight in moisture without feeling wet. It also has the ability to wick this moisture away rapidly. These are ideal properties to counter night sweats, and in general, to help keep you cool during hot summer nights.
- Layer your bedding. A good option here is to use all-season wool duvets and to add a wool blanket on the chilly nights.
- Use certified (GOTS) organic bedding. The chemical residues and fixatives present in non-organic bedding can irritate the skin leading to chronic, low-grade inflammation. This can also be a further trigger for night sweats.
- Do not choose memory foam mattresses. Unfortunately, memory foam is excellent at retaining body heat and so greatly exacerbates night sweats. If you’ve already got a memory foam mattress, a cheaper option than replacing it is to use a wool filled mattress topper.
By Chris Murphy, PhD, co-founder, Sleep Organic