WHAT IS IT?
Movies show women in menopause fanning themselves or removing sweaters, asking whether the room is hot or is it them. They are using cooling techniques.
Hot flashes and night sweats can be triggered by small increases in body temperature. So, it makes sense that lowering your body temperature or preventing it from rising might help avoid them or help them end faster.
You, too, can try to bring your body temperature down a little when you have a hot flash or wake up hot at night. We cool and heat our bodies through the palms of our hands, the soles of our feet, our mouths and our scalps. Cold liquids can cool us off from the inside. Here are some cooling techniques to try.
During the day:
- Drink ice water to cool off – or iced tea/coffee, any cold beverage.
- Use a cold pack on your body. Holding one in your hand may help.
- Dress cool, and in layers that you can remove. Wear sleeveless blouses and natural fiber clothing that breathes, including light cotton pajamas or gowns. Avoid sweaters or other heavy material as your bottom layer.
- Don’t wear turtlenecks
- Do wear outer layers that are buttoned or with zippers so they can be easily removed
- Shawls also can be easily adjusted.
- Keep a hand or electric fan nearby.
- Lower the room temperature.
- Adjust your bedding. Use a lighter comforter or dual control electric blankets so you can turn your side down. Use layers so you can cast some off.
- Use a bed fan that blows air under the top sheet.
- Place a small fan on a table or stand next to your side of the bed.
- Stick arms or a foot outside the blanket to cool if you wake up hot.
- Put a cold pack under your pillow at night and turn the pillow when you need to cool off.
- Keep a pitcher of ice water at your bedside.
- Drink cold water if the night sweats wake you up.
- Take your shoes and socks off and put place your bare feet on a cool cement or tiled floor.
- Place the palms of your hands on a cool surface.
OUR BOTTOM LINE, DOES IT HELP?
DON’T KNOW. We really don’t know how well these techniques work, because no one has studied them. But they are easy to do and common sense says it’s worth trying them. There’s no down side. See if you can gain some control over your body temperature.
HOT FLASHES AND NIGHT SWEATS
POTENTIAL RISKS & SIDE EFFECTS
QUALITY OF LIFE EXPECTATIONS
IF I WANT TO TRY THIS TREATMENT WHAT ARE MY NEXT STEPS?
Try various cooling techniques to see if you can gain some control over your body temperature. Perhaps the hot episodes will not last as long. Perhaps you will avoid some hot flashes. You can easily combine cooling techniques with other approaches, too.
You might want to try tracking your hot flashes and any cooling techniques you use. This can help you figure out which ones help, and in which combinations.
Authors: Dr. Katherine Newton, & Dr. Leslie Snyder. Last reviewed February 15, 2021