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It is estimated that 6,000 women in the United States women reach menopause every single day. That amounts to 2 million women every year.
Most women reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. And as statistics would have it, 46 million women will be over 55 by 2020. That’s a lot of us!
So what happens during “the change”?
Perimenopause comes first. It’s the transitional stage before menopause marked by the reduction of mature eggs in a woman’s ovaries. A decrease in progesterone and estrogen typically follows. This, in turn, causes notorious menopausal symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes.
Menopause is a natural and normal event that is defined as the final menstrual period (FMP). In other words, it is a time when a woman’s ovaries stop functioning and menstrual periods stop. A woman reaches menopause when she fails to have her monthly period for twelve consecutive months. After menopause, a woman can experience transitional symptoms for up to 10 years.
Research shows that 75 percent of menopausal women experience night sweats and hot flashes at some point during perimenopause and menopause.
In addition, two-thirds of postmenopausal women in North America experience hot flashes with approximately 10-20 percent experiencing severe hot flashes.
Hot flashes, a common menopausal symptom, are caused by a sudden increase in skin temperature which in turn results in flushed face and sweating. Hot flashes can result in embarrassment, discomfort, and disruption of sleep. The cause of hot flashes is unknown, but they are likely related to hormonal and body thermostat changes which become hypersensitive to shifts in body temperature.
Hot flashes during the night are especially problematic as they interrupt sleep.
Yes, you can turn on a fan or lower the temperature in your room, but staying cool at night also involves creating a bed environment or cooling system that keeps you comfortable. Here are some tips:
Consider a cooling pillow. Your head releases more heat than any other part of your body. Cooling pillows make total sense. These pillows can keep you cool at night by using memory foam (and sometimes cooling gel) designed to keep your head cool at night.
Buy a cooling mattress pad. A cooling mattress pad can help your body maintain a constant temperature throughout the night. As soon as you start sweating, the cooling mattress pad will absorb excess heat and cool you down.
Try temperature controlling blankets and comforters. Consider buying duvets and blankets that are not too heavy but good enough to keep you warm. Look for cotton, breathable material, and cooling technology.
Buy cooling sheets. Cooling sheets that are lightweight, crisp, soft and breathable may do the trick.
Here are some highly rated products available at Amazon:
This Original PeachSkinSheets SHEET SET is from Atlanta, Georgia and features their signature peach zipper pull. Not only do they provide a level of softness comparable to 1500 threads per square inch, but they are GREAT for hot sleepers. PeachSkinSheets are made of a high performance, athletic grade, breathable 21st century SMART Fabric. This material allows for air flow and is designed to wick away moisture while regulating cool and warm body temperatures.
The BREEZY Sheet Set with Pillowcases from SHEEX may be your solution to a cooler and more comfortable night’s sleep. The ultra-lightweight and unique, breathable structure creates superior ventilation and heat release to keep you cool, and these silky-soft sheets wick moisture to keep you dry throughout the night.
The Kingnex Cooling Mattress Protector was inspired by the athletic clothing using cooling nylon, this mattress protector is made with the same fabric and coated with breathable membrane on the back, a combination of traditional waterproof technology and cooling fabric. The cooling nylon has an advanced moisture wicking structure that dries 2X faster than traditional fabric such as cotton, pulling moisture from your skin to the fabric’s surface, moisture is evaporated and heat is dispersed quicker and leaving you a cooler, drier and more comfortable sleeping surface, actually balance your body temperature, keep you cool during the night.
Avoiding menopausal hot flashes
Avoiding hot flashes isn’t always easy, and intervention looks different for every woman. “When the Queen can sleep, all is well in the land,” says board-certified OBGYN Donna Ivery, MD. “Turn your thermostat down at night; your family can sleep in their winter pajamas. Drink a cold glass of water before bed. Soak a face cloth in ice water to apply to your neck. Get the pillow and pads above. Self-help is always the best first step.”
Besides creating an optimal bed environment, here are a few things to avoid:
- Caffeine and alcohol
- Smoking and secondhand smoke
- Spicy foods
- Restrictive or tight clothing
What works for you? Have you tried a cooling pillow or special sheets? Let us know!