A hot flash, also called hot flush, is a sudden feeling of warmth and often a breakout of sweating in the upper half of the body. When these occur at night, they’re known as night sweats. Hot flashes are normally brought on by a reduced function of the brain’s temperature regulation, are caused by changing hormone levels, and are one of the most common menopause symptoms. Having night sweats while sleeping can cause overheating and frequent awakenings.
Another source of hot flashes can be medications. According to WebMD, “Taking certain medications can lead to night sweats. Antidepressant medications are a common type of drug that can lead to night sweats. From 8% to 22% of people taking antidepressant drugs have night sweats. Other psychiatric drugs have also been associated with night sweats.”
The “Sleep in America” poll results from the National Sleep Foundation found that more than half of all Americans (60%) experience a sleep problem every night or almost every night. Interestingly, a ten-year study to discover which drugs are used to treat insomnia was published in the journal “Sleep”. The study found that prescriptions for sleeping medications have decreased by 53.7%, but that antidepressant drugs prescribed for insomnia have increased by a surprising 146%. Examples of antidepressants prescribed for insomnia are trazodone, doxepin, trimipramine, and amitriptyline.
Medications may not always have the desired effects. For example, Drugs.com says the following about an antidepressant drug called Welbutrin — “Nervous system side effects have frequently included headache (27%), insomnia (16% to 33%)… and sleep abnormalities.” Health.com lists some other possible side effects of antidepressants as sexual dysfunction, weight gain, dry mouth and throat, racing pulse, confusion, disturbed dreams, and an increased risk of suicide.
Nature has provided us with some natural sleep remedies and relaxants that have stood the test of time. Regarding mineral deficiency as we age and at the time of menopause, the pioneering nutritionist Adelle Davis says, “The amount of calcium in a woman’s blood parallels the activity of the ovaries. During the menopause, the lack of ovarian hormones (estrogen and progesterone) can cause severe calcium deficiency symptoms to occur, including irritability, hot flashes, night sweats, leg cramps, and insomnia. These problems can be easily overcome if the intakes of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D are all generously increased and are well absorbed.”
To reap the benefits of calcium, magnesium and vitamin D for menopause symptoms, look for formulas made in a softgel form for maximum absorption. Softgels have oils mixed with the minerals and are more quickly assimilated than tablets or capsules. These can be an effective alternative to medications.