Even though hot flashes often come and go in, well, a flash, their impact may last longer.
Many women have vasomotor symptoms for a year or longer, which makes a big difference in how you function over time. Dealing with hot flashes and night sweats on a regular basis can affect your sleep, which can have a domino effect on your health in general.
Hot Flashes, Night Sweats, and Menopause Fatigue
Night sweats can wake you up in the middle of the night. You may have to get up and change your sheets or clothes because they’re wet from sweat. The lost hours of sleep add up and may create longer-lasting fatigue.
When you’re tired, it may be harder for you to stay active during the day. Physical activity is important at any phase of your life, but during menopause it’s especially important for:
Helping you stay at a healthy weight. In midlife, many people lose muscle tone and put on extra weight around their middles. Belly fat is linked to many health problems, including diabetes, liver conditions, heart disease, several types of cancer, and even sudden death.
Building your bones. Exercise helps slow the bone loss that comes with age, protecting you from breaks, fractures, and brittle, weak bones (osteoporosis).
Helping your heart. Staying active lowers your blood pressure, improves your cholesterol levels, and strengthens your circulatory system, which all add up to a healthier heart.
Keeping up your energy. A workout may make you feel a little tired in the short term, but in the long term it builds your energy and endurance so you can get through your day more easily.
The less sleep you get over time, the more it may get in the way of how well you function on a daily basis. Without enough rest, you may find it hard to focus and stay sharp during the day. Lack of sleep can also have a long-lasting impact on your brain.
And one of the most ironic things about being tired when you’re going through menopause is that it may actually trigger a hot flash. It’s not the most common one, but tiredness can be one of the many triggers of vasomotor symptoms.
What You Can Do
There are many things you can do to take care of your physical and mental health during menopause.
- Do things that make you feel good, like hobbies.
- Find a calming practice like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
- Make time for self-care, like a relaxing bubble bath or a massage.
- Stay connected and active with friends and family.
You can also reduce your symptoms so they have less of an impact on your life.
Here’s what you can do to cut back on hot flashes and night flashes:
- Ask your doctor about treatment. This may include hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or prescription antidepressants.
- Exercise regularly. Being active helps you sleep and helps you stay at a healthy weight.
- Stay at a healthy weight. Studies show that hot flashes are more intense for people who are overweight.
- If you smoke, quit. Research shows that people who smoke have more hot flashes.
- Avoid your triggers. Common triggers for hot flashes include caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, hot environments, tight or heavy clothes, and stress.
If you reduce your vasomotor symptoms, they’ll have less of an impact on your daily life and your overall wellness.
When to See Your Doctor
Pay attention to your sense of well-being daily. Be aware of how you feel. Notice changes in your mood, stress, and sleep patterns.
If your symptoms are interfering with your day-to-day life, talk to your doctor. They may recommend hormone therapy, alternative treatments, changes in diet and exercise, and other ways to manage vasomotor symptoms to help you feel your best.
Photo Credit: Westend61 / Getty Images
Frontiers in Neurology: “Menopause and Brain Health: Hormonal Changes Are Only Part of the Story.”
Menopause Review: “Psychosomatic and vasomotor symptom changes during transition to menopause.”
Cleveland Clinic: “Hot Flashes.”
Harvard Health Publishing: “Menopause and Mental Health.”
Mayo Clinic: “Perimenopause,” “Hot Flashes,” “Weight Gain in Women at Midlife: Unique Issues in Management and the Role of Menopausal Hormone Therapy,” “Fitness tips for menopause: Why fitness counts.”
Tri-City Medical Center: “Menopause: What to Expect and When to Seek Help.”
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center: “Why belly fat is dangerous and how to control it.”
Harvard Health Publishing: “The many ways exercise helps your heart.”
StatPearls: “Hot Flashes.”