How I Deal With Night Sweats
Last updated: January 2021
My relationship with sleep is a complicated one. I can get oddly excited about slipping into my pajamas, bedtime being one of my favourite parts of the day. Yet, while there are few things that make me as happy as a freshly made bed, sleep sometimes is no fun for me. Anxiety plagues my brain as soon as I am horizontal, and I am definitively a light sleeper. And lately, in addition to being restless in bed, I suffer from night sweats. Unfortunately, this has worsened over the last months. Most mornings I wake up a moist mess: any t-shirt I sleep in is soaked, the back of my head is wet, and I feel like I’m the long lost cousin of the creature of the swamp.
What causes night sweats?
Night sweats can be caused by hormonal ups and downs, so any change or imbalance in our hormonal levels. They can be triggered when we start on birth control, or when we switch to any different type of hormonal medication.
In my case, because I suffer from endometriosis, the subject of hormonal imbalances is not new to me. I also take progestin, an artificial form of progesterone. This makes my progesterone levels increase, while any estrogen will go down. This change sends a message to my hypothalamus, which is the part of our brain responsible for managing internal temperature. Progesterone produces a rise in body temperature1, which will result in an excess of sweat.
Additionally, because I sometimes suffer from high levels of anxiety, this increase in stress can translate into spontaneous sweating. Basically, being bothered and hormonal, can trigger night-time sweating.
How I deal with night sweats
During the hotter months, I have been using a fan. I do this in a low setting, so the sound doesn’t disrupt my sleep. Sometimes simply keeping a current of air running through, by opening a couple of windows, is enough.
I wear cotton-based clothing to bed, either in the form of light pajamas, or some loose-fitting tee with shorts. Sticking to cotton means this fabric is absorbent and easier to peel off my skin in the morning. The same applies to my bed clothing, it’s better if it's cotton-based.
Unavoidably, my recent night sweats have produced an increase in my laundry loads, but that is OK. I am looking at this as another form of self-care.
Another thing that helps me stay refreshed is showering as soon as I get up, and using a corn flour-based natural deodorant with citrusy fragrances such as lemon and lime.
While night sweats can be incredibly unsettling, at the moment, mine are not too bad. I am single, so there’s no risk of anyone sleeping next to me and waking up to find me swimming in my own sweat. Also, there are weeks in which I sleep like an angel and sweat zero. With the colder months ahead, I'm expecting a reduction in the number of mornings I wake up all sweaty.
When night sweats become problematic, the best thing is to speak to a doctor
It may be a case of adjusting the cocktail of hormones we’re on or trying a different approach altogether, like looking at our diets. Night sweats require management, not just to sleep more comfortably, but to be aware of any underlying conditions that may be causing them.
Just like my endometriosis, my night sweats are something that I am learning to cope with, and as soon as I can't deal with them by myself, I will be enlisting professional specialist care.
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