The Menopause Sleep Survival Guide: Staying Cool at Night
Women experiencing menopause often experience hot flashes and extreme discomfort. Along with that, they go through the feeling of sudden warmth that increases the heart rate, makes the face red, and leaves them sweating.
If this sounds like something you’re experiencing, then luckily, our guide can help! With a few tips and tricks, you can manage to stay cool at night.
So, if you’re going through menopause, make your way through our menopause survival guide to learn how you can stay comfortable while going through this time.
Menopause is basically when you go the whole year without getting a menstrual period. While you can go through menopause as early as in your 40s or even as late as in your 60s, the average age in America for menopause is 51 years.
And the best way to understand what’s going on and why you’re experiencing drastically different symptoms is by understanding your hormones.
Women are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have, and these are located in the ovaries, which are responsible for producing estrogen and progesterone. As your eggs ovulate, they die, and your ovaries start to fall, which leads to menopause and decreases the estrogen level.
So as you start to skip your menstrual periods for months at a time, there’s almost no progesterone produced in the body. But we need both estrogen and progesterone for the body to have the correct balance. So as the levels of both of these hormones decreases, it affects other hormones, too. This is why this small change in the reproductive hormones significantly affects the rest of the body, too.
Most women experience various uncomfortable symptoms during pre-menopause and even after menopause. These symptoms include thinning hair, dry skin, mood changes, weight gain, hot flashes and night sweats, and, of course, problems with sleeping.
Of course, these are not the only symptoms you might experience. Symptoms vary from person to person, so you might experience different symptoms that might even change throughout post- and pre-menopause.
How to Stay Cool At Night
If you’re going through menopause, there are a number of things you can do to stay cool at night. These include the following:
Choose the right bedding
Even if you have a very cool room, if your bed traps heat, then it can make you highly uncomfortable and keep you up throughout the night. To make sure you avoid this, you should look into getting bedding specially designed for sleepers. Sheets that are moisture-wicking, breathable, and absorbent are the best for cooling purposes. Some examples of cooling sheets include Tencel, bamboo, and cotton sheets.
Change your pillow
Our brains tend to generate a good amount of heat, but the right pillow can help you get rid of the heat while you sleep. Generally, large pillows tend to trap more heat, so it’s better if you go for compact pillows. Such pillows usually have breathable covers and contain latex, cooling gel, and ventilated foam.
Get rid of memory foam
A memory foam mattress is notorious for trapping body heat. Meanwhile, other kinds of mattresses ensure better air circulation. If changing your memory foam mattress for something else is not possible, then consider upgrading your bedding to ensure comfort. For instance, you should try a cooling mattress topper or use cooling linens to get rid of heat.
Check the height
Hot air tends to rise. If you have a raised bed, lower it by a foot or two to cool it down. And if you have bunk beds or loft beds, we recommend switching to alternatives with more of a traditional height to get some relief.
Fabrics to Stay Cool
Some fabrics are known for having great cooling properties. Cotton is the most common fabric used for sleepwear and bedding. Meanwhile, bamboo and Tencel are more recent innovations and are derived from technologically processed wood converted to versatile and strong fiber.
Bamboo is a semi-synthetic fabric usually compared to cotton. This is because both fabrics are absorbent and breathable, despite the difference in their production and quality.
Of course, higher quality fabrics are more durable, softer, and more cooling and don’t excessively fade or pill. Cotton tends to wrinkle and shrink more, but bamboo is more expensive. You can find eco-friendly options in both cotton and bamboo, but most bedding is manufactured using less sustainable methods.
Apart from these two fabrics, another option is Tencel, which is made from eucalyptus trees. The fabric is durable and soft and is well-known for its temperature-regulating and moisture-wicking properties. It is also produced via an eco-friendly process and requires fewer natural resources than bamboo and cotton production.
When dealing with night sweats, cooling sheets are one of the best options. If your sheets are not absorbent or breathable, you’ll feel sticky and hot all night long. However, the best cooling sheets can help regulate your body temperature. Some options that you can choose from are:
The fabric is made using bamboo leaves and the inner core. These are first crushed and then soaked in enzymes that break down the plant tissue further. Then, the resulting product is spun into fibers and woven into cloth.
You can find bamboo fabric with varying eco-friendliness and quality. This is because they are made using different methods.
Most bamboo products are made from bamboo viscose. This expensive fabric involves toxic chemicals and complex methods. But the problem with this kind of bamboo is that its byproducts are not really recycled. Plus, the waste contains carbon disulfide, which is toxic.
Another option is organic bamboo fabric, which is made using a relatively more sustainable process. Cellulose is converted to fiber with closed-loop manufacturing that recycles both byproducts and solvents.
Then comes bamboo linen - a fabric made using mechanical processes that don’t involve cellulose. Bamboo linen is made using crushed wood fibers soaked into an enzyme solution. This is then spun into fibers. This process is not only eco-friendly but also produces excellent-quality fabric.
Overall, bamboo is quite breathable and strong. While high-quality bamboo fabric is soft and lightweight, low-quality fabric feels rough and tends to pill easily. Bamboo is also antibacterial.
Bamboo sheets are more moisture-wicking and absorbent than cotton sheets, but they’re still not as good as eucalyptus sheets. They are also more hypoallergenic and cooler than natural fabrics but not too soft. Bamboo sheets are also highly likely to wrinkle and must be cared for gently.
Plus, when shopping for bamboo products, keep in mind that most bamboo textiles are made using bamboo that has been chemically processed. So, remember to particularly look for bamboo linen or organic bamboo.
Tencel (eucalyptus sheets)
Tencel is essentially a brand for lyocell fiber, which is very commonly used for both home textiles and apparel these days. It is used for not only bedding but also sleepwear. Tencel sheets are also a good option for hot sleepers as they are moisture-wicking and highly breathable. They’re also relatively more hypoallergenic than resin-treated cotton and polyester, so they’re a good option, particularly if you have sensitive skin.
Lyocell is made from the cellulose pulp of the eucalyptus tree. It is essentially a kind of regenerated cellulose fiber quite similar to acetate and viscose rayon. This wood pulp is processed and then spun into fibers with a closed-loop manufacturing process to create exceptionally silky and durable fabric. This process sustainably recycles almost all byproducts and lyocell. One great thing about lyocell is that eucalyptus is renewably sourced, and the resulting fiber is chemical-free and hypoallergenic.
Tencel is sustainably produced. The process needs nearly 20 times less fertile land, less water, fewer dyes, and less energy than what is needed to produce cotton. The production of Tencel also results in less waste as most agents are recycled into the system. Plus, the fabric has more long-lasting and vibrant colors.
Tencel also feels smooth and soft on the skin and is relatively kinder and beneficial for people with sensitive skin than chemically-treated, rougher fabrics. It is also moisture-wicking and hydrophilic, making the material a great option for cooling sheets. Tencel is also more absorbent and breathable than cotton. Similarly, Tencel sheets hold their shape well and are easy to care for.
Eucalyptus or lyocell sheets are a great cost-effective option as they ensure warmth in cold weather, too, so you can use them year-round. These sheets also ensure a healthy sleep environment because they dry faster than polyester and cotton. They’re also chemical-free and prevent allergens and dust mites.
Cotton is the most common material used for bedding. This is because it is long-lasting, economical, and breathable. Cotton widely varies in characteristics and quality. For instance, the staple (fiber) length can be either long or short, and the weave and thread count can vary.
The main kinds of cotton include America Upland, Pima, and Egyptian cotton. The latter two are premium options with a long staple length and are durable, cooling, and soft.
Two popular cotton weaves for sheets include sateen and percale. Percale is a relatively tighter weave used for durable and smooth bedding that gets softer with each wash. Meanwhile, sateen ensures a silky finish that tends to retain heat, making it better for those who sleep cold.
Many cotton items are treated with resin to avoid wrinkling and staining. However, this resin coating gives off formaldehyde, which is a likely carcinogen and a known irritant. Meanwhile, organic cotton is a better, chemical-free alternative.
And while is cotton is breathable, it is not as absorbent as eucalyptus or bamboo sheets. It is also not moisture-wicking, which is why it’s not the best option for night sweats.
Microfiber sheets appear lightweight, vibrant, colorful, and soft, which is why you might be tempted to get them. However, microfiber is made of ultra-thin fibers made from polyester or plastic-based nylon. This is why they’re not too breathable, so they’re not really a good option for hot sleepers.
The durability of microfiber sheets also varies. Plus, the sheets are slightly absorbent and dry quickly. The production of microfiber also harms the environment. This is because microfiber tends to shed a lot of tiny fibers that contribute to the plastic contamination of sea life.
Sadly, if your night sweets are very had, microfiber based materials might be the best options since they're the most moisture wicking and so you won't end up sitting a wet puddle of your own sweat.
Silk and linen
Both silk and linen are luxurious options and are only suitable for mild heat problems. In the case of severe night sweating, it’s best to steer clear of these materials.
Linen has a looser weave, so it is breathable and cool, but it wrinkles easily and needs extensive care, making it an impractical option for regular use. The same is the case with silk.
Cooling sheets: Factors to look for
Thread count is very important to consider, especially because it affects the durability and softness of the sheets and determines if the sheets are suitable for hot sleepers. Fabrics that have a medium to high thread count that’s between 300 and 500 are optimal. Higher thread counts result in poor ventilation, while lower thread counts produce a less durable and rough fabric.
Apart from the thread count, make sure you look for the following words in the description:
- Breathable: Fabrics that state they are breathable provide great ventilation and reduce the build-up of moist air and sweat.
- Moisture-wicking: Such sheets pull moisture away from the skin so that you stay dry.
- Absorbent: As the term suggests, absorbent means that the sheets absorb moisture, making them a good option for staying cool at night.
- Hypoallergenic: In some cases, bedding is treated with some chemicals to improve its performance. Some fabrics snag easily or have a grainy texture. So if you have sensitive skin, make sure you go for chemical-free or smooth sheets.
- Durable: Always remember that high-quality sheets are an investment. Always go for sheets that wear well and can hold their color even after being washed multiple times.
- Easy care: Of course, you don’t want sheets that are a hassle to take for. Go for sheets that stay relatively smooth, wrinkle-free, and soft without needing excessive ironing or laundering.
How to survive menopause
While most menopause symptoms are only temporary, it doesn’t mean dealing with them is easy. Apart from buying the right bedsheets that keep you cool at night, some other tips you should keep in mind are:
Know your triggers
Dealing with hot flashes is never fun, which is why it’s best to know what triggers them so that you can avoid them. Of course, triggers vary for each woman, but some common triggers include smoking, chocolate, stress, warm rooms, hot weather, spicy foods, hot beverages, alcohol, and caffeine.
Drink sufficient water
Night sweats and hot flashes bring with them excessive sweating that increases the risk of dehydration. This is why you should stay hydrated during menopause. In fact, if you don’t drink enough water, you risk triggering hot flashes. Apart from preventing hot flashes, hydration also keeps the brain healthy and sharp and reduces mood swings.
Exercising not only during but even after menopause helps reduce symptoms and improves sleep. It also prevents weight gain that usually comes with menopause, helps fight mood swings, and strengthens the bones. Regular exercise also helps protect against age-related health problems, heart disease, and diabetes.
Stress can often trigger menopause symptoms like night sweats and hot flashes. One way to combat stress is to participate in deep breathing exercises. According to studies, doing so might minimize night sweats and help reduce stress. Other options to reduce stress include yoga, massage, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and meditation.
Have a hot flash kit ready
In some cases, hot flashes might be quite severe and interfere with your daily life. However, you can stay on top of them by keeping your hot flash kit ready. Some things you should include in this include a personal fan, a deodorant, an extra shirt, face wipes, and water.
Of course, menopause can be a tough time for many. But if you keep the tips mentioned above in mind and choose the right cooling sheets, bedding, and night clothing, you can reduce their symptoms and deal with them better. We're always here and happy to help you out if you need advice on the right bedding to purchase for your menopause sleep needs.