I’ve got to a stage when I cannot remember sleeping through the night. I usually wake around 3am with night sweats. The heat from my body threatens to combust me, my fella and our dog. In fairness I could do without the dog, but she usually wakes too and takes her cue to move out of the way. I throw aside the bed clothes and lay starkers, no matter how cold the night, until the internal heat stops rising and my sweaty limbs turn chilly. The sheets are damp, my hair is wet, the room is steamy and my throat is parched. I drink a full glass of water and gingerly pull a corner of the duvet over myself, hoping to drift off again, but often laying awake, anxiously, for hours.
So far I haven’t found anything natural to prevent or alleviate my night sweats (nocturnal hydrosis). They started a few years into perimenopause and are more regular than the occasional hot flushes I get during the day. They began in earnest after I was prescribed HRT for three months; just as I was enjoying a return to normality they found the drugs were causing a slight thickening to my womb lining and I was back to square one. My mood swings got worse for a while and the night sweats became a constant feature. The more I read up on the subject the more confused I became, the only thing that is clear is that the experience of menopause is different for every woman. There are no catch-all solutions or remedies so I will just have to keep on trying new things until, hopefully, something works.
This is my ‘try-this’ list – they’ve not worked for me but that doesn’t mean they won’t work for you:
As described above I couldn’t continue down this path for medical reasons but it was the one thing that worked to reduce my symptoms. I know lots of women want to do the whole menopause thing ‘naturally’ but I would grab HRT with both hands if it were an option.
2) Avoid Alcohol
I didn’t like this one for obvious reasons. I did a whole month alcohol-free and actually felt much better generally. I was clear-headed and had more energy but crucially it didn’t prevent the night sweats. The experience has made me cut down on the amount I drink. My tip is to stock-up on nice alternatives to alcohol, like elderflower cordial or ginger beer for those occasions when you really fancy a tipple.
3) Take supplements
- Sage – I took drops (menosan). They taste quite bitter and had no effect on me but the reviews on Amazon indicate they work for others.
- Black Cohosh – A traditional herbal medicine used by Native Americans for over two hundred years so there has to be something in it.
- Magnesium – I still take this as it’s a very important mineral for our bodies and everything from sugar to stress can help to make us deficient. I do feel less tired and anxious but it hasn’t helped the night sweats.
- Evening Primrose Oil – I still take this as I’m working my way through a massive bottle. I haven’t seen any improvement in hormone balance or my adult acne which is supposed to be another ‘amazing’ benefit.
- Menopace – A kind of multi-vitamin for menopausal women
4) Avoid spicy foods
I love my chilli so this was actually quite difficult but a spell of baked potatoes and roast veg salads without any harissa did nothing to cool me down.
5) Avoid tobacco
I don’t smoke anyway.
6) Eat healthily
When I told my fella I was going to try to eat more healthily he laughed out loud. I eat a mostly vegetarian (occasionally pescetarian) diet – the staples of which are salads, roast vegetables, goats cheese, houmous, fruit and yoghurt. In an attempt to be even healthier I omitted dairy for a while but it didn’t help.
7) Keep cool
I’ve included this one even though it is ridiculous. I read the advice to open a bedroom window, wear fewer clothes and turn down the thermostat in mid-winter when the temperature in our bedroom at 3am was below freezing. Needless to say that in my desperation I did put the summer duvet back on the bed and my feet became so cold I had to wear socks but it made no difference and I just ended up with a head cold.
My search goes on until I become post-menopausal – though my research indicates that could be no time soon. If any of you gorgeous gals have a solution to regain my beauty sleep please share it in the comments box below. You might also be interested in menopause: five online resources to help you survive.