HOT FLASHES, NIGHT SWEATS AND SLEEP QUALITY
Understanding your body’s core temperature and circadian rhythms are crucial to getting a good night’s sleep. Temperature changes throughout the night affect the way you go in and out of various sleep stages. Many studies have shown that getting a good night’s sleep is dependent on having your body be at the right temperature at the right time. Body temperature decreases at night, making us fall asleep, and increases right before we wake up. If we are too hot or too cold it is going to interrupt sleep.
Enter menopause, which wreaks havoc on body temperature and sleep. It is no coincidence that menopause, which is considered one year after a woman’s final menstrual period, and peri-menopause, the years leading up to it with all of the hormonal, physical and psychological changes, is when women report the most sleeping problems. According to the National Sleep Foundation, A full 61% of menopausal women report suffering from insomnia. And, as we know, insomnia can cause mood disorders and other problems in a vicious cycle.
A big reason for this is the decreasing levels of estrogen that cause hot flashes and night sweats, affecting between 75-85% of women during this time. Hot flashes are just that –bouts of heat that spreads throughout the body, raising body temperature and causing sweats. When your temperature rises your body is going to wake up. And once you do you may have a hard time going back to sleep because you’ve thrown the covers off, you are covered in sweat and are generally uncomfortable. These symptoms can last anywhere from one year to five and can occur several times throughout the day and night.
So how can you treat them? There are lifestyle changes, such as practicing good sleep hygiene and medical treatments. Hormone Replacement Therapies are controversial and is a decision to make with your doctor. There are also herbal and over the counter phytoestrogens that can relieve symptoms. And like any other sleep problem, avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, electronics before bed, exercise regularly and block out light.
Perhaps most important is to maintain an ideal sleeping temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler and keep the room well ventilated. Wear loose fitting and light clothing. There is new technology that goes beyond sleep sensors to help you maintain an ideal body temperature for good sleep. Bedjet is one of these technologies that shows promise. Using the most up to date research from sleep, sleep technology can monitor your skin temperature to create ideal sleeping conditions.
At BlueSleep, Dr. Stern and his research team are doing a clinical trial investigating the use of the Bedjet®, a commercially available temperature controlled blanket that can help maintain a cool environment and diminish the discomfort and sleep interruptions of hot flashes associated with menopause.