How To Keep Cool At Night

The one part about summer which I never miss is the endless string of hot nights which keep me tossing and turning. In an effort to keep the ambient temperature as comfortable as possible while I slumber, I have tried many different methods to cool down, and some still do the trick quite nicely. Thankfully, the mercury should start dropping soon, and the blazing hot nights will abate.

Here’s what has worked nicely for me in my quest for a cool sleeping environment:

1. Central A/C is always set for a certain temperature. We have it set at 77 degrees because at 78 degrees or higher, the entire household (there are four of us) bakes like incubating baby chicks.

2. The ceiling fan in my bedroom is always on. There’s nothing I can do about the fan placement, and often lament the fact that the fan is positioned over the foot of my bed instead of over my head, but the bedroom is huge. If I owned the place I live in, I would install three ceiling fans in line so that I could stay cool in bed, sitting in front of the television, or sitting at my desk on the other side of the room.

3. I have two sleek tabletop fans on my nightstands which are wonderful on hot nights. They have a slim profile, and are relatively quiet.

4. I always use 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, which have more of a tendency to stay cool than sheets which are a lower thread count or made of synthetic materials.

5. I have a cooling mattress pad on my mattress. The brand I have, PureCare Frio 11 Inch Cooling Mattress Protector, is acceptable but not great.

Frio Cooling Mattress Pad

Several other bloggers have recommended the Slumber Cloud Nacreous Mattress Pad which is available at slumbercloud.com, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it does a better job of cooling than the Frio.

6. When I was dealing with the worst of my perimenopausal nights sweats, I would place an ice cold gel pack between my shoulder blades and sleep on my back so that I could maximize the surface area which came into contact with the pack. After two summers of using gel packs on a nightly basis, I am thrilled that I haven’t had to resort to such craziness this summer.

7. On the hottest summer nights, I will take a tepid shower before retiring. The shower ritual cools core body temperature and primes the body for more restful sleep.

8. I will often kick a foot or an entire leg out from under the covers to cool down. This has been scientifically proven to decrease core body temperature. Some researchers even recommend that people sleep with their feet completely unencumbered by socks or bedding.

What did NOT work for me was a bed fan. I had seen the BedJet Climate Comfort Cooling Fan and was intrigued by it, but the steep price ($300 and up) caused me to lose interest quickly. When I learned that there was a Brookstone version of the bed fan, and that it was $99, I quickly purchased it, only to be so disappointed by the performance that I returned it. Even with the lightweight sheets I have on the bed and a simple coverlet (no blanket, no heavy comforter), and with the fan cranked up to the maximum setting, the device spewed out just enough air power to keep the toes of one foot cool.

I am intrigued by the Breezy Buddy fan-cooled pillow and wish I had known about this product when I was in the throes of hormonal night sweats. However, I no longer need such a device.

If you are looking for ways to cool down your bedroom, you might want to try a few of the suggestions I have discussed here. Here’s to a restful and cool night’s sleep!

Macafem Video Review on YouTube

Please check out my review of Macafem which was shot in 2015. Macafem is a supplement designed to address the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause (hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, etc.). I have not been approached, paid, or otherwise encouraged by the makers of Macafem to put a review together. This video is merely my unbiased review of the product from my personal experience taking it.

I am still taking Macafem, and my symptoms of night sweats and hot flashes have pretty much subsided. I also lost all the water weight I was carrying while I went through menopause.

Hot and Cold

Hot-Flashes-2

Many women who are in their early 40’s and beyond experience a roller coaster ride with their internal thermostats which is absolutely maddening. They can go from sitting comfortably one minute, to a sudden sweat and flush which makes them feel like they are standing next to a fiery blaze the next minute. Such a roast-fest can last from seconds to minutes, after which a woman may feel pretty comfortable. But the pendulum can swing the other way, and the woman may suddenly feel very cold once the air conditioning has kicked in, prompting her to put on a sweater. Guess what? Chances are that sweater will be peeled off in a matter of minutes when the woman has another hot flash. Hot, cold, hot, cold, hot, cold. Fun times. Such fluctuations in a woman’s perception of temperature, coupled with her constant putting on and taking off layers of clothing, are often perceived as pretty nutty by people who don’t have a clue about the torture these women go through.

I can relate to the constant temperature fluctuations because I have been suffering from it for over a year now. I fully realize that my body doesn’t know what temperature it is. Thanks to hormonal imbalance and the decline associated with peri-menopause, I am very familiar with the sweating which is sudden and intense, and I know that feeling of desperation which has me peeling off clothes, fanning myself, and sticking my head in freezers and in front of blowing fans. However, I only recently began experiencing the feeling that I am suddenly freezing my butt off, and I truly can’t stand it. My perception of the ambient temperature can go from upper 70’s, to 120 degrees, to 60 degrees, within 5 minutes flat.

woman with chills

On my worst days I will have maybe five or six of these episodes, so the daytime hours aren’t too bad, but my evenings make up for the relative break I get during the day, because I am hot and sweaty for many hours and cannot cool down at all, even if I wear a cooling towel around my neck, lie on the floor under my ceiling fan (the darned thing is positioned right over the foot of the bed and doesn’t cool me off at all when I am in bed), and lie over the covers. My bedroom feels like it is 100 degrees and I cannot get away from the heat because, of course, the heat is emanating from ME. My hypothalamus is tricked every night into perceiving that my body needs to release excess heat. I know that this is the result of low estrogen levels, but my professional knowledge of estrogen therapy is enough to keep me from ever supplementing with estrogen, so I will continue to suffer as long as my hypothalamus triggers the way it does. At least I know I am not alone: about 85% of women who are peri-menopausal experience hot flashes. Hot flashes can last from several months up to 15 years, with an average of 2 years. I hope and pray that I fall into the average! Seriously, hot flashes and night sweats are absolutely miserable. I often get as little as two hours of sleep at night when my night sweats are in full effect!

I Just Had To Get A New Pillow

Pillow

The combination of a poorly cooled townhouse (the result of an untimely coil leak in the central air conditioning), night sweats, cats who think it’s cool to use me as a natural radiator, aches and pains in my hips, legs, shoulders, forearms and hands, and a recurrent neck strain have all robbed me of sleep almost every night this summer. With the exception of the cat issue, I was determined to find solutions to all of the sleep robbing elements in my life.

The central air conditioning is finally going to be replaced within the next week (HALLELUJAH!), the night sweats have abated somewhat (due to better hormonal balance in my perimenopausal body), and the aches and pains have been better as a result of fantastic chiropractic work by Dr. Ryan Pendon and Dr. Ryan Chapman from Urban Med. I realized that the neck strain was aggravated by pillows which did a horrible job of supporting my noggin, so I figured I could buy new ones.

Since I always buy new pillows for my bed every year in the autumn months, and wasn’t quite due for a new set, I hesitated on making a purchase. But the pillows I had been sleeping on since November were no longer fluffable, and at night, my head would sink right onto the mattress. I could literally feel the mattress through the pillows! I will admit that I am highly sensitive to tactile changes, just like the princess who could feel the pea through 20 mattresses. So I toughed it out and figured that I would just somehow get used to having deflated pillows. Then I got one of those mailers from Bed, Bath and Beyond, with a 20% off coupon on any one item. After thinking about it for a week, I decided to buy one pillow at a 20% discount.

I ended up with an IsotonicĀ® Indulgenceā„¢ Side Sleeper Pillow, originally priced at $59 but which I paid $47 and some change for after using my coupon. This pillow is for side sleepers, but isn’t as firm as some of the other side sleeper pillows I found. Since I always start out my night on my back, I can’t deal with a very firm pillow because it wrenches my neck into an uncomfortable flexed position. The perfect pillow has to be a perfect balance of support and softness, with some loft, but soft enough that it doesn’t feel like my head is resting on a Bosu ball. So far (it has been a couple of nights since I started using this pillow to sleep on), this pillow is doing the trick for me.

Now I only have to deal with one, or actually, THREE issues which interrupt my slumber. The cats rule the roost in our house and have free access to my room, which means that if they want to wrap their perspiration-inducing, furry bodies around me in the middle of the night, I am not exactly going to do anything to prevent them from doing so. However, it is a small price to pay for their constant and unconditional love!

Who Turned Up The Heat?

woman-fan-298x232

If you have ever awakened in the middle of the night with the feeling that you are burning up, and find yourself drenched in sweat, you have experienced night sweats. Though night sweats can be aggravated by spicy foods or alcohol, or sleeping in an overheated room, the true culprit in night sweats for the majority of peri-menopausal and menopausal women is fluctuating estrogen levels. Such fluctuations falsely signal the hypothalamus to cool down the body by triggering perspiration and blood vessel dilation. For those of you who have experienced this phenomenon, you know how much it interferes with normal sleep patterns!

What can you do to minimize night sweats? Regular exercise can reduce the severity of symptoms. I have also seen a marked improvement in night sweat symptoms in my patients after they have introduced maca root into their daily regimens. On a personal note, maca has been helpful in reducing the intensity of my night sweats so that I don’t wake up completely drenched in sweat in the middle of the night. If you have severe symptoms, you might want to consider being evaluated for bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. I strongly advocate the use of bio-identical hormones for individuals who suffer from the symptoms of hormonal decline or imbalance.

The battle to eradicate my night sweats has not ended. I had a nice little break from them for about five months, then they crept back into my nightly patterns. To combat this, I decided that my comforter needed to be put in storage until the winter, and I purchased a cotton coverlet set. I also purchased a special mattress protector which is comprised of a cooling material, and though it was a bit pricey (about $100 for a Cal King), it was a godsend for me. Here are a couple of brands which are great:

http://www.amazon.com/Sleep-Better-Iso-Cool-11-ounce-Mattress/dp/B000ZK4QBY?tag=hotflashwebsite-20

http://www.amazon.com/Design-Weave-Outlast-Temperature-Mattress/dp/B003J371E8?tag=hotflashwebsite-20

Another thing I highly recommend is to put a fan in your bedroom. I have a ceiling fan in my bedroom, and I almost always sleep with it on so that I can keep cool air circulating over the bed. Make sure the thermostat in your home is set to a cooler temperature so that you don’t overheat during the night, or open a window to allow a cool night breeze drift into your bedroom.

Hopefully these suggestions will have you sleeping more comfortably this summer!