Put the problem to bed with these natural remedies.
For many, occasional night sweats are pesky. They’re uncomfortable, they disturb your sleep. You might have to change your clothes during the night, or worse your sheets. And you are left with a big pile of extra laundry – no-one needs that! If you are experiencing night sweats right before your period over a number of consecutive nights the disturbance to your sleep can become severely problematic to your everyday functioning. And this is a great indicator that your hormones are out of balance.
Why do hormonal night sweats happen?
Experiencing night sweats right before your period is due to the dramatic drop off of oestrogen. This is the same reason that hot flushes are characteristic of the menopause. What is happening is the body is effectively experiencing ‘withdrawal’ symptoms from the level of hormones to which it has become accustomed. As oestrogen levels decrease, the size of the ‘thermo-neutral zone’ dictated by the brain gets narrower, meaning it won’t take much change in ambient temperature to result in your body attempting to compensate. Hello night sweats!
There is a couple of points in the normal menstrual cycle that this big drop off of oestrogen happens. One is just before ovulation mid-way through the cycle, the other is just before menses, days 26-28 of a 28 day cycle. Uniquely during this later time, there is a steep decline in all of a woman’s hormones as her body prepares for menstruation. This is the most likely time to experience night sweats, right before your period. Another possible time for hormonal night sweats would be right before ovulation. If you experience night sweats outside of these times of your cycle, I recommend that you discuss this with your doctor. There could be another health condition at play here.
If you suffer with night sweats the best route to finding a solution is to keep a comprehensive log of sleep, food and cycle. This will allow you to identify patterns. A short-cut approach to this could be to note the food you can remember from the day before, and day of your cycle day, after you experience night sweats. These kind of notes can easily be kept in a tracking app on your phone. I recommend Cara for food and lifestyle tracking, or P Tracker for comprehensive tracking of cycle and related symptoms. These are both free and may help you identify any personal triggers and work out a solution.
There are a few common triggers for experiencing night sweats right before your period which are worth looking out for:
Sleep clothes, and bed sheets should be made from cotton rather than any synthetic or mixed fabrics. The ambient air temperature should be fairly low and the room dark. It is best to try and recreate cave conditions for minimal sleep disturbance.
A sudden drop in blood sugar level
This could be either a full blown hypoglycaemic episode or what is known as ‘relative hypoglycaemia’ where blood sugar levels are within the normal range but the drop is sudden enough to trigger the release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. This is most common in those who struggle generally with blood sugar regulation. But can also be common in diets where lots of sugar is consumed without any protein or fat to slow it’s absorption. If you think this could be a trigger for you then take a high protein snack before bed like a handful of nuts.
Drinking alcohol before bed, even as little as a glass of wine, can trigger night sweats. Similarly other toxins can potentially have the same effect. Smokers have a considerably higher chance of experiencing hot flushes during menopause. It follows that smoking also potentially aggravates night sweats associated with the normal menstrual cycle.
Excess oestrogen, or oestrogen dominance, is a common hormonal imbalance. There are a number of ways the body can end up with more oestrogen than it needs.
- The body can produce too much oestrogen: the insulin spikes that result from a diet high in refined carbs and sugar can trigger this.
- Exposure to xenoestrogens (from things like plastics and poorly produced meats).
- Intake of too many phytoestrogens (from plants) (discussed later in this article) can contribute to excess oestrogen.
- Ineffective elimination of oestrogen metabolites from poor digestive health, chronic constipation and leaky gut can contribute to excess oestrogen.
Excess oestrogen can worsen all pms symptoms including night sweats.
Consuming triggering foods
Everyone can have Individual foods which might trigger night sweats right before your period. This is why keeping a food and sleep log could be helpful. Some of the main culprits include alcohol and sugar as identified above. Also caffeine, dairy products, meat products and spicy foods can all be triggering for this condition as well as contributing to undesirable mood swings.
Being overweight has been linked to experiencing night sweats right before your period for the reason that “body-fat tissue acts as a strong heat insulator”.
There are also foods that you can positively incorporate which may help to reduce any instances of night sweats.
Where night sweats are due to the dramatic drop off of oestrogen, it can be helpful to consume foods high in phytoestrogens. These mimics the oestrogen produced by the body. However in the case of excess oestrogen outlined above, these foods should be avoided.
In Japan, where the traditional diet is much higher in plant based protein, soy and tofu specifically, it has been estimated that only 7% or the population suffer with hot flushes. This menopause symptom is due to low oestrogen levels and an estimated 55% of U.S. women suffer with them. Consuming foods high in phytoestrogens at the times of the month you expect to suffer with night sweats, could help put this problem to bed.
Foods which are high in phytoestrogens are:
- Soy and tofu
- Lentils, chickpeas and almost all edible beans.
- Flaxseeds (aka linseed) and flaxseed oil
- Chicory, endive and celery
Herbal tea made from steeping sage leaves in hot water is a powerful tonic. If consumed before bed this remedy is purported to help with a whole host of health conditions. This includes night sweats right before your period. However, consuming this regularly is not recommended for those who are pregnant, nursing or trying to conceive, as well as those who suffer from epilepsy, liver disease, or are undergoing chemotherapy.
Vitamins and minerals
Foods rich in calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B, and anti-oxidants will all be beneficial in staving off night sweats. Foods like: cold-pressed oils, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, brightly coloured berries as well as mineral and fibre-rich foods, like whole grains and fresh vegetables.
If you do suffer with an episode of night sweats, then make sure you drink enough water to replace lost fluids. It is also recommended to add in some sea vegetables. According to Allan N. Spreen and James B. LaValle in “Smart Medicine for Healthier Living”, “The minerals in these foods replenish necessary electrolytes lost through perspiration”.
If you do suffer with night sweats right before your period, it is possible over time and with conscious awareness to work out what it is that triggers these and amend your habits accordingly. Recreating cave like conditions in your bedroom will provide the optimum environment for sleep. Being aware of the foods and drinks you are consuming, any environmental toxins you might be taking on, and your overall state of health can all contribute to putting this condition to bed. Experiment with these natural remedies to prioritise good sleep and put your hormonal night sweats to bed for good!