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Why Are Hot Flashes Worse At Night?

Ever found yourself wondering, why are hot flashes worse at night? We’ll talk you through the causes of hot flashes and how to manage them. Hot flashes are a common symptom of the menopause, or peri-menopause, causing discomfort to many women. Occurring at any time of the night and day, hot flashes cause an uncomfortable warm sensation and red flush that spreads across the body, often starting from the face, neck and chest.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, experiencing these hot flashes at night can cause excessive sweating leading to soaked bedding and a broken night’s sleep for both you and your partner. And this lack of sleep can affect all areas of life causing fatigue, confusion and other health problems.

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Here, we set out to answer the question, why are hot flashes worse at night for some women?

What are hot flashes?

It’s not known exactly why hot flashes occur, but it is thought to be something to do with spikes in hormones, such as estrogen, that occur when a woman is reaching the end of her fertile period. There is a theory that the body tries to give itself a fertility boost in the period prior to menopause, to make the most of its last chance at reproduction.

These erratic hormone surges are thought to affect the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which is responsible for temperature control, kind of like a thermostat. This can mean your body thinks, mistakenly, that it’s too hot and works to cool itself down by opening up blood vessels in the skin to release excess heat. This causes the familiar red flush. Of course, the other mechanism the body uses for cooling is perspiration, which can cause extreme discomfort and anxiety for women in a variety of situations.

What are the causes of hot flashes at night?

Hot flashes happen at night in just the same way as they do in the day. In fact, there is no scientific reason for them to be worse at night. When hot flashes happen at night, they are known as night sweats because this is how they tend to manifest. If you’re wondering how to keep cool at night with hot flashes, keep reading.

Why are hot flashes worse at night for you?

It may be that you, personally, experience hot flashes worse at night than you do in the day if that is when your estrogen levels are peaking.

There are, however, several reasons why you might feel the effects of hot flashes more when you’re in bed, and therefore think they are worse at night. Some of the causes of hot flashes at night and reasons why they feel worse at this time include:
  • When you’re asleep you may not notice the episode coming on, and therefore wake up already feeling hot, drenched and uncomfortable. During the daytime if you notice the symptoms starting, you may have time to do something to make yourself more comfortable, for example, removing layers to pre-empt the temperature rise.
  • Hot flashes can happen more when your body is warmer, for instance, if you are sleeping in a warm room or under warm or synthetic bedding. One of the best natural remedies for hot flashes at night is to try natural wool bedding. This will help your body regulate its own temperature by wicking away moisture.
  • Did you drink alcohol or eat a spicy dinner before bed? This is one of the lesser known causes of hot flashes at night, yet it can intensify symptoms of night sweats. Similarly, certain medications taken during the evening may bring on unwanted side effect of hot flashes.
  • Stress can also cause night sweats to get worse. Ironically, if you lay in bed worrying about how to deal with your hot flashes, you may find this actually makes the problem worse.
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It may be that hot flashes at night just affect you more by disrupting sleep and leaving you frustrated, awake for long periods and therefore feeling exhausted during the daytime.

After all, everything seems worse in the middle of the night.

Learn more about how to keep cool at night with hot flashes

Now you know the causes of hot flashes at night, you’ll be able to try our tips to help you sleep comfortably and undisturbed again. You can learn how to deal with menopause and night sweats. Alternatively, visit our Sleep Health and Advice hub for more sleep-related advice.

For more information, learn how to deal with menopause and night sweats . Alternatively, visit our Sleep Health and Advice hub for more sleep-related advice.

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