Night sweats & menopausal night sweats
Whether you’re suffering from the menopause or whether you just suffer from night sweats, hours of your night can be lost due to overheating. This article will look at how your body controls its heat, and what can be done to help it maintain a contestant body temperature overnight.
How do our bodies control heat?
1 Radiation (the process in which all bodies give off heat)
2 Conduction (heat transfer from one object to the next)
3 Convection (the movement of heat via air)
4 Sweating! (the situationin which one sweats)
Our bodies will try and use the first three options before it will resort to sweating to cool itself
How does heat move in bed?
Not very well is the answer to that question, but in ideal circumstances you can build up an equilibrium within the microclimate of your bed.
So your body will give off heat energy throughout the night, and that is absorbed in some way by your bedding which includes, your mattress, sheets, any mattress toppers as well as pillows. If your body gives off for example 100 units of energy every minute and your bedding is able to absorb this heat at an equal rate then bingo, you have your equilibrium, but more often than not, this is not always the case.
When you get into bed, it feels nice and cool. This is because it has not yet come into contact with your body and the process of conduction has not started. Once in bed, after a few moments, this cool feeling has subsided as your body transfers heat to the bed. If it was comfortable sleeping on metal then perfect, all the heat from your body is conducted quickly leaving you nice and cool. Unfortunately, metal isn’t that comfortable, so we’re left with materials that don’t conduct heat quite as well.
How does air move heat away from you during sleep? Well, this is a tricky question as you’re sandwiched between sheets. It’s remarkably difficult to move air if it’s trapped between two object. When you move in bed air moves too and conduction occurs. But what if you don’t move much in bed, how does convection occur then?
All you have to do is give your body the maximum chance of being able to carry out these ways of transferring heat before you start sweating. Here’s a few suggestions.
Cool down your room. This can be done by opening windows, lowering the thermostat or by a fan. Cool down your room and your beds ability to absorb heat increases.
Look into bedding that helps this absorption/ transfer of heat. Some beddings have better thermal characteristics than others, and sheets with incredibly high thread counts are very dense and don’t allow air to flow through them, decreasing your bodies chance of cooling via convection.
Another way of cooling is to put a layer between yourself and the mattress that allows air to flow through. Breathable mattress toppers are a good way of doing this. Breathable pillows may also help.
Don’t sleep on something that restricts your movement. Everybody moves at night, but some more than others. Giving your body the biggest chance of moving will help move heat through convection. Foam products restrict body movement as you tend to sink into them, also make sure all your sheets fit correctly. Saggy sheets are likely to get caught around your body which will also restrict the movement of air.
Look for materials that conduct heat well.
Help your body to help itself. Be smart and understand how heat is transferred, especially inyour bed, and you’re half way to cutting out your night sweats