Awake at 3am in a wet cold PJ’s!?…You are not alone! My hot flushes at night and waking up at 3 am was a really unsettling time for me, It felt lonely and thought that this was going to be permanent. I have always loved my bed and when my alarm went off dreamed about returning that night. But for a while there I actually was anxious about going and starting my slumber. But fear not ladies, it does pass and there are ways to manage the symptoms.
So, I look back on when it all started, I was still on the pill, Microgynon, one I have been on for as long as I can remember…..which was a long time! I was lucky in the fact that I never suffered with my periods until just after Easter 2015, when something stressful happened. I started having bad migraines during my period and felt like I had been hit by a bus, I put these new symptoms down to stress.
I also put down the fact that I was waking up in a cold sweat at night and couldn’t get back to sleep to stress, especially when my brain was working on overdrive, not just about this but lots of other things, round and round, it felt as if my brain had been put in a blender!!
So I decided to come off the pill. I have always been very in-tune with my body and just felt it was the right time (FYI..please go to your GP before making the same decision!)
I also had a plethora of other stresses, but don’t we all? However this night thing was a whole different kettle of fish.
So after having a blood test and was told “yes Jane you have very low ostrogen levels I would think you are peri-menopausal”…I was shocked! What I am only….hold on a minute actually I am 47, mmm perhaps the GP may have something here.
So the research began! Firstly why does this madness happen around 2.30/3?
Everyday Health explains that “hot flashes and night sweats are caused by a complex interaction that involves fluctuating oestrogen levels; the hypothalamus (a region of the brain that regulates body temperature); nor-epinephrine, a key brain chemical, and specialised receptors in the brain; and the body’s blood vessels and sweat glands.” What is not clear in a lot of literature that our progesterone fluctuates as well, which is why we do feel as if we are “going” mad with the dreadful mood swings.
It’s horrible, you wake up and feel so alone…luckily I had a spare room so I took myself off to that, as lying there pulling to covers off and on depending what my temperature was doing, it just added to the stress along with the worry of waking up my husband.
So here are a few tips to calm the brain that in turn will calm your nervous system, preparation is key!
Firstly have a spare T-shirt or Pj’s handy if you do wake up in a cold sweat. A towel to hand is also a good idea.
Drink of water. Apart from being hot, the sweating will dehydrate you.
Bedroom hygiene is very important. Make sure you don’t have clutter anywhere. No blue lights, don’t be tempted to look at your phone or but on your tablet. It stimulates the brain and we don’t need any more stimulation!
Take yourself out of that situation and read a book, if you can go to another room for a while.
If it is summer have an eye mask to hand so you can put it on if you feel you can fall back to sleep. Ear plugs are also a good idea, the dawn chorus can be really annoying when trying to settle down!
If you have lots going around in your head keep a pad and pen next to the bed, get it out of your head. Lists in the middle of the night do actually help, it will help keep you positive the next day, at least you feel you have achieved something.
Exercising really helps with fatiguing the body but make sure it is the earlier part of the day, becoming breathless will help with anxiousness and produce the feel good hormones, serotonin. Along with doing some type of mindfulness or restorative yoga.
If you dont have time for the above try some aps.
I Downloaded a couple of AP’s , here are the ones I used;
The Headspace Ap helps calms the brain, helps with emptying the thoughts.
This AP by Andrew Johnson helped me during the day as well as at night.
It reminded me of the sequence I used to use with my cardiac patients as part of their stress workshop. With these aps make sure they are easy to access on your phone so you don’t have too much “blue lights”, even plugging your ear phones in ready to go. Some women like to listen to The Archers or Radio4.
Essential oils on the bed clothes; Lavender is a great one, but one that my sister and I use is a pillow spray from space NK.
Cutting down or out caffeine, sugar and alcohol is a must these will just make your symptoms worse especially night sweats and disturbed sleep.
An hour or so before bed try some calming teas such as chamomile and have a bath with magnesium or Epsom salts bath. Magnesium is mother natures calming nutrient, so having it as a supplement will work also.
Doing the all above helped massively but the big thing turnaround for me was starting HRT.
Remember ladies, you are not on your own and that it does pass.