An estimated 40% of menopausal women will experience sleep problems, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And 75% of those sleep difficulties can be chocked up to hot flashes or night sweats.
“Hot flashes and night sweats are caused by a complex interaction between fluctuating estrogen levels in the hypothalamus (a region of the brain that regulates body temperature), norepinephrine, (a key brain chemical, and specialized receptors in the brain) and the body’s blood vessels and sweat glands,” explains Dr. Carolyn Dean, a physician and naturopathic doctor.
“The hypothalamus, a region of the brain that regulates body temperature and is affected by hormones, can become confused by these changes in estrogen levels. Like a faulty thermostat, the hypothalamus may respond to the changes in estrogen as if it senses an increase in your body’s temperature. In an attempt to cool you down, the hypothalamus sets off a cascade of events, including dilating blood vessels to release heat (which you feel as a hot flash) and triggering sweat glands (which you experience as sudden, intense perspiration). The result is you wake up drenched and chilly, with a racing heart and a sensation of anxiety.”
Tip #1 – Boost your magnesium intake. Research has shown that magnesium, a mineral that plays an important role in everything from heart health to stress reduction, decreases during menopause. Even in the best of times, most Americans (estimates range from 60% to 90%) are low on magnesium. Dr. Dean suggests adding ¼ to 1/2 teaspoon of sea or Himalayan salt (both may contain magnesium) to every quart of drinking water, or sipping on water throughout the day with magnesium citrate powder. The water also helps rehydrate the body after it loses electrolytes after those pesky night sweats. Post-menopausal women should be taking in 320 mg of magnesium daily. Always talk to your health-care provider before taking any kind of supplement.