Sleepless through the menopause

19 January 2023

Scientific studies

According to studies, around two-thirds of menopausal women suffer from hot flushes associated with sweating. Such an attack always follows the same pattern: The heart beats faster and suddenly a hot wave shoots from the neck into the head and the whole body. Shortly afterwards, you break out in a sweat. Then you start to shiver slightly - and it's all over again.

Frequency of episodes varies

The frequency of these episodes varies greatly from woman to woman. Some experience only one sweat attack a day, but many experience 30 or more. This is particularly stressful at night because the women almost always wake up. Many can't just go back to sleep then, but have to change clothes first and sometimes also change the bed linen.

This severely disturbs sleep and especially the dream phases that are so important for recovery. The quality of life decreases significantly because those affected are no longer rested and able to perform during the day. Since the condition often lasts for a long time, the women then also become increasingly nervous and irritable.

The earlier sweats occur, the longer they stay

Hot flushes and the associated sweats occur for the first time in most women right at the beginning of the menopause. For many, they show up even before the last menstrual period. Over time, the frequency and severity of the attacks usually decrease slowly, but there are exceptions.

However, the period of time over which a woman must expect to sweat excessively again and again without external cause varies greatly from person to person. Some women are only affected for a few weeks, others struggle with it for years. A new US study shows that in some cases the sweating can last for as long as ten years. The researchers discovered a rule of thumb: The earlier the hot flushes occur during the menopause, the longer a woman has to struggle with them.

Hormones are the reason

Experts believe that the hot flushes and sweats are caused by the fluctuating oestrogen level at the beginning of the menopause, which later decreases more and more.

However, it is still unclear why a third of women are not affected by this - although the oestrogen levels in their blood also change significantly. But what is known is what happens in the body: The changes in hormone levels irritate the temperature centre in the brain. The body misunderstands these signals and "thinks" it is suddenly overheated. To counteract this, the stress hormone adrenaline is released, the heart beats faster, the blood vessels in the skin dilate and you sweat. This causes the body to cool down again.

In the case of a hot flush, therefore, exactly what makes sense when the organism overheats happens - only that in this case it never happened.

Exercise alleviates the symptoms

Anything that strengthens the circulation and exercises the blood vessels can help women. The reason: The temperature regulator in the brain is then no longer so easily thrown out of balance, the sweats subsequently occur less frequently and less severely or sometimes even do not occur at all. An important building block here is regular exercise. You should really work up a sweat. Endurance sports such as walking, cycling or jogging are recommended. However, if you haven't done much exercise so far, you should take it slowly and not overexert yourself.

Kneipp treatments such as treading water are also a good workout for the vessels. To do this, fill a tub with cold water. It should reach a hand's breadth below the knees. Now wade in it like a stork for about a minute, pulling one foot completely out of the water at each step, with the tip of the foot pointing downwards. Always stop immediately if a strong cold stimulus occurs. Afterwards, just wipe off the water and warm up the feet again by walking around. If you like, you can also put on woollen socks. Sauna visits followed by a cold immersion bath or alternating showers have a similar effect on the organism.

When it comes to nutrition, women should now focus on Mediterranean cuisine. The diet includes lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh herbs, good vegetable oils and two fish meals a week. Reduce the consumption of red meat, animal fat, white flour products and sweets. Together with regular physical activity, this diet can also reduce existing excess weight - another factor that promotes hot flushes and sweating. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids, preferably mineral water. Alcohol, coffee and black tea, on the other hand, should be avoided as much as possible, because all three have an effect on the oestrogen level and can directly trigger a sweating attack.

Using the power of nature

Nature offers sage to help reduce heavy sweating. The tea has an antiperspirant effect and is also calming. Pour 250 ml of boiling water over two teaspoons of dried sage leaves and let the mixture infuse for up to ten minutes, then strain. Brew a fresh cup twice a day and drink the tea unsweetened and room-warm. Sage tea acts directly on the heat regulation in the brain. A cup before going to bed is particularly good for night sweats. An alternative to this is sage preparations, such as A.Vogel Menoforce Hot Flush and Night Sweat Remedy, or even chewing a fresh sage leaf.

Menopause - What you need to know

Menopause is a natural part of life. Find out when and how it starts, what happens and what the benefits are. There are also a number of natural treatments available.

Menopause hub


Perimenopause is the time leading up to menopause. It can last several months or years. We describe why it happens, the symptoms and suggest natural solutions.


Night sweats

Excessive sweating at night is often a part of menopausal hot flushes

Learn more...

Menopause Rating Scale (MRS)

The Menopause Rating Scale (MRS) [1] is a health-related quality of life (HRQol) measurement which assesses symptoms commonly experienced by middle-aged women.

Complete the Menopause Rating Scale (MRS)