How does an aromatherapist mom deal with hot flashes at night?
The short answer is: As naturally as possible.
Here is a list of things I've tried. I'll add to it as I test out new options. Sleep is the foundation for a healthy and happy life.
Until you get to menopause, hot flashes or night sweats feel like distant urban legends.What's all the fuss about you think. And then when they arrive... suddenly all those cartoon images you've seen of women standing infront of the open freezer make sense.
General things I use and have tried are:
- Temperature management (me, the room, the bed)
- Acupuncture ( to reset internal energies, boost immunity)
- Food options and supplements
- Aromatherapy and Herbs
- Inner Work - Acceptance, Surrender, Mindfullness
- Specific Yoga techniques before bedtime
In this article I will reveal what I am using to go through my perimenopause in the hope that you will find some ideas that help you.
How to stay cool and sleep better during menopause
- Layers of blankets vs one thick duvet
- Open window, even a tiny crack.
- Keep the bedroom cool.
- Cooling down slowly to stop body overcompensating by making more heat.
- Use a rosewater based facial tonic for emotional and physical support.
- Sleeping naked (new for me!) or in loose cotton pj's (M&S do some specifically for menopause)
- Balanced diet that agrees with my ancestral DNA
- Vitamins B, C, E and fatty acids, best from fresh whole foods
- Regular exercise. Specific bedtime exercises.
- Reducing alchocol, caffeine, sugar, spicy foods, dairy products, red meat and processed foods.
- Mindfullness, breathwork and acceptance.
Aromatherapy for hot flashes
One of my favourite ways to cool off at 2am is with a blast of refreshing hydrosol. Sometimes I use Drench. Aromatic hydrosols can be sprayed undiluted onto your face, neck and chest at any time of the day or night.
My favourite hydrosols for perimenopause are rose, rose geranium, clary sage, lavender, chamomile, mint and sandalwood. Extra bonus - they contain components that nourish your skin's microbiome. We use geranium hydrosol (along with 24 carat Gold) in our delicate Jardin de Fleurs cleanser.
If you buy herbalist grade hydrosol, they can be added to drinking water. A tablespoon per litre. Rosewater is yummy diluted this way. If you use Bach Flower remedies add them too.
Essential oils that help rebalance hormones include clary sage, vitex agnus castus and geranium. These are diluted into a gel, cream, bath oil or massage blend. See my safety instructions for essential oils.
Avoid artifical scents, synthetic fragrances eg scented laundry liquids, dryer sheets, those weird scented candles. Those are toxic and overload your system.
Food, Supplements & Complementary Medicine During Perimenopause
You might not know that foods have an energetic component. They heat or cool the body. Cooking methods also affect your body's sensitive electromagnetic structure.Roasting meat heats it more than stewing it. Microwaving brings a cooling energy. (I dont use a microwave) Freezing foods, brings a cold energy eg ice cream.
Your Ayurvedic body type affect what foods you eat and how you should cook them. Eating locally sourced seasonal foods is important too. Cucumber is immensely cooling although hard on a Vata constitution in winter so I'm waiting for Spring/Summer to eat that again.
There are superfoods rich in minerals, trace elements, essential fatty acids. Seaweeds, maca, rhodoila, berries, fruit powders rich in VItamin C. Book a kineseology appointment to find out what you should avoid/take. Some kineseologists check which crystals, Bach Flowers, essential oils, vitamins, homeopathics, Tissue Salts etc your body needs.
I've noticed that eating a protein heavy meal at night brings on heat and broken sleep. Lamb especially, even eaten at midday.
Mint tea after my evening meal helps. The Pukka version with licorice is delightful.
My acupuncturist reminds me to keep the digestive fire going, with ginger tea. Even though we get hot, we still need to keep our digestive fire (agni) strong. Certain spices help a meal digest eg cardamom, ginger, coriander, black pepper.
Caffeine (CHOCOLATE, TEA, COFFEE, yeah the yummy things) brings on sweating. Make notes of what you eat and drink in a day and how your night went. You might see that your capacity is 2 cups of tea or coffee.. or that any caffeine after 4pm keeps you awake and restless. Make notes. Pay attention to the moon too. Around full or new moon, caffeine might effect you more. Sometimes a chocolate craving is due to a magnesium deficiency or shortage of omega threes.
White spots on your nails - zinc deficiency. Zinc is also connected to strong immunity and fertility. Think pumpkin seeds.
Long hot baths just before bed...these can get you sweatier than you need be. Magnesium in Epsom Salt baths is very healing but does bring on extra sweat, so be aware and be sure to hydrate with enough water before bed.
Creating a sleep santuary
Make your bed as comfortable as possible. Orthopaedic pillows to support your spine. Blackout curtains. Earplugs if you're noise sensitive.removing electronic devices, TV, phones..
Keep your bedroom well aired. Not too hot not too cold. A small gap of fresh air but not a draught onto your shoulders.
Synthetic duvets or linen, even poly cotton duvet cover bring on sweating. Have a separate duvet for your partner. Cotton, merino, bamboo or other natural bedding.
Turning the pillow during the night. Switching pillowcases daily. (One friend puts her pillowcase into the freezer before bedtime!)
A glass of water next to the bed. Drink plain water before bed and on waking.
Soft and loose bamboo or cashmere socks for bed. A hot water bottle for feet when it's chilly.
A lavender infused night cream to calm at bedtime, think Proposal in Paris.
Stick to a regular routine 7 days a week.
Journalling in the evening. If you're planning your next day, do this earlier in the day. Evenings are for winding down.
Switching off blue lights two hours before so that you don't disrupt your melatonin.
Reading a novel before bed. If it's electronic be sure that the blue light on it, is dimmed.
Lavender oil. Chamomile tea. Gentle music. Some gentle yoga (see below) Calming thoughts. Prayer, gratitude.
Taping your mouth at night so that you breathe through your nose.
Yoga for the Menopause
There are particular yoga poses that help with cooling the body, calming the mind. Easy to do before bed. Any strenous exercise is best done in the morning or afternoon.
A simple 5 minute yoga wind-down routine can help.
- Legs up the wall is easy and relaxing
- Child pose
Speak to your yoga teacher for more ideas.
Acupuncture through Menopause
There is no standard treatment for Menopause becasue menopause is not an illness. Every woman is different in her experience.
Each session you will have your pulses checked. It's amazing feeling energies moving and shifting. TCM sees the interconnected energies flowing in your body. Your body is treated with respect as an intelligent force not an un-cooperative robot.
Herbs for menopause and reducing hot flashes
The obvious - chamomile tea. The flavour grows on you if you've decided it's not tasty. Persist with it. Chamomile tea is also useful when you've got the flu so it's worth keeping it in stock. and managing to overcome the distate to the flavour.
Sage extract from Dr Vogel - because of the ethanol I add it to boiling water to allow the alcohol to evaporate. It helps. The biggest thign is rememering to make it early enough in the day so it's cooled down. Have experimented adding it to my morning tea. Not too much to change the taste of the tea.
Sage teabags - the flavour is mild. Seemed helpful. Staff in the health store insisted that sage tincture would be more powerful. And I've got both now. I'm using Floradix organic teabags from the health store. The flavour is good not pungent. If you can handle the flavour of chamomile or rooibos tea, you should be ok with the sage flavour too.
I've also used loose herbs from Neal's Yard - passionflower, lime flower, skullcap, valerian, oatstraw, lavender bud. Lots of sleepy time blends available as teabags in your natural wholefoods store.
Resisting the change, only makes it worse. What you resist, persists.
Start to learn acceptance.
Perhaps you are drawn to Tai Chi or Mindfulness. Its a stage in our lives where we get to choose how the second half of our life will unfold.
Our hormones are changing, again. Puberty. Pregnancy. Lacation.
Remember what works this month, might not work next year. Be flexible. Menopause is an emotional time. It will pass.
I'm an aromatherapist not a doctor. This advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies. If you are depressed, speak to your doctor.
And of course, skin changes during this time. It's important to switch to gentle yet hydrating options that have been designed for women approaching and then going through' the change'.