Night Sweats: Beating The Heat Of The Perimenopausal Moment

Image credit: Mariah Aro Sharp @mightymooseart

Image credit: Mariah Aro Sharp @mightymooseart

A bipolar, body-positive bread enthusiast with a fucked-up ankle and a history of disordered eating chronicles health, weight-loss, and gardening. No diets allowed. 

I have a recurring dream. In it, my ex-husband and I have to live together. In the dream, we are divorced as in real life, so I’m not sure why we have to live together, but we do. It’s the same house every time, and every time the house is falling apart, though in varying states of disrepair.

I’m frantically trying to figure out how to make the house livable when I find a hidden room at the back that is wall to wall bookshelves and storage cubbies. I’m delighted with the sudden appearance of so much space. But it’s like I’m the only one who can see that the space exists.

And then I wake up.


When I say “drenched in sweat,” I do not mean I am a little damp. I mean I am sopping wet with sweat dripping from my body. My bed is drenched to the point that I need to either change the sheets or sleep on a towel. Once I get out of bed, I am freezing, because I am drenched in sweat.

This doesn’t only happen during this dream, but during this dream, it always happens.

Last night I had a dream that I had a very tiny baby. The baby was so small that I was trying to put it in my pocket because I was afraid I’d drop it.

The night before that, I dreamt that I was pregnant, and I knew I didn’t have a uterus to be pregnant in, but I WAS pregnant, and I couldn’t feel the baby moving. I thought the baby was probably dead and I was poking my uterus-less stomach trying to find it. It turns out, the baby was in my stomach.

I know. I feel like anyone would wake up drenched from that shit.

I’ve had night sweats off and on for many years, in proliferation after the birth of my kids and when I was on Celexa (they don’t list it as a side effect, but it IS), but they’ve become exponentially worse in the last year.

I don’t know if this is happening because of a med side effect, or because I had a hysterectomy and confused my body (I have my ovaries still), or if it’s because I’m perimenopausal, or if it’s because my ex keeps haunting me in my sleep with his poor choice in real estate.  


So now I’m going to help you!

By “help” I mean “tell you all the things that didn’t work.”

First I made simple changes:

I switched sheets and blankets, changed what I sleep IN (nightgown, t-shirt, underwear, butt ass naked), showered at night/did not shower at night, ate before bed/did not eat before bed, changed the time I take my meds, drank no caffeine/drank more caffeine, purged my brain of all thought, meditated, did progressive relaxation, journaled about how I don’t have to live with my ex and/or have a tiny pocket baby.

None of those worked.

Then I pulled out the big guns and tried these:

1. Sweating on purpose.

I had more than one person tell me I should go to a sauna because excess estrogen will sweat out. I tried this. I don't know if it worked because I could not stand to be in the sauna. My BED IS A SAUNA. Why would I pay someone for that?

2. Herbal things.

I tried this menopausal support pill called “Enlightened Woman.” It did enlighten me. I have a new, deeply spiritual connection to my night sweats. (I feel like this did help with the day hot flashing thing.)

But I mean come on, it’s like three roots in a capsule. How effective can that be against my ex-husband and an almost invisible baby gestating in my stomach?

I also tried Dong Quai and Black Cohosh; the hippie is strong in me.

Not strong enough; they didn’t work either.

3. Progesterone cream.

I tried this one. The night sweats didn’t go away, but I think I was less of a bitch. (Don’t ask my husband; he’s not objective.)

4. Ice water

I drink a LOT before bed, and I keep my Hydro Flask next to the bed all night. I have the 40-ounce version, and it’s still full of ice when I wake up. It’s sorcery (I think it’s just insulated vacuum).

I also drink during the night.

If the ice water doesn’t prevent the sweats, I have to get up to pee so much I never get to sleep long enough to have one.

5. Cooling pads.

And here’s the keeper, I know you’ve been waiting for it.

I bought these cooling pads meant to go on your pillow. They don’t need to be put in the fridge, so I don’t know how to explain the cooling properties, except to say there is some freaky ass chemical in there.

ANYWAY. I am like the Princess And The Pea over here, so sleeping with these on my pillow was a big ol NOPE. BUT I found I could lay ON them. The cooling property lasts a few hours. Then you have to set it aside so it can refuel itself (don’t ask, I don’t want to know how) in about 30 minutes.

And then, blessedly, I found them in a giant size.

The bad news is, once you’ve sweat on it, it becomes a sopping wet heating pad burning with the fire of a thousand suns.

The good news is if you have two you can just switch them out.

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Drink your water, boos.

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