Hot flashes at night, nighttime perspiration, “sweaty beddy” or the medical term, “sleep hyperhidrosis” – whatever you call it, these terms all describe one of the most disruptive and uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. They can range from mild to extremely intense. Waking up in the middle of the night to clammy sweat-soaked sheets is not only unpleasant; it also leaves you feeling exhausted, especially when it happens night after night. One positive step you can take is to use different sleepwear. For many women in menopause, the right sleepwear can contribute to a good night’s rest. Hot flash supplements can also help.
Natural vs. Synthetic Fabrics
There are pros and cons for different fabrics used for sleepwear. We aren’t suggesting one fabric above all others; you’ll have to try them for yourself and decide which works best for you.
Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to staying cool and dry, natural isn’t always better. Fabrics like cotton, linen, and even wool were once thought to be best for sleepwear because they’re highly breathable and soft to the touch. Those are indeed the benefits for natural fibers. Where they fall short, however, is in moisture retention. Natural fabrics tend to absorb sweat. Instead of evaporating, the sweat is soaked up by the fabric, so your jammies stay wet and make you feel as if you’re wearing a wet blanket.
One positive attribute of polyester and other manufactured fabrics is that they have excellent wicking properties. They pull moisture away from the body to the exterior of the fabric where it can evaporate more easily and won’t leave you cold and damp. This quality makes synthetics perfect for workout clothes. On the minus side, when you’re in bed, where the air isn’t circulating, the moisture just collects in pools instead of drying.
In a somewhat different category is bamboo. Touted as organic and eco-friendly, fabric made from sustainable bamboo provides clothing that’s soft, comfortable, and naturally breathable. There is a downside, however. Most bamboo manufacturing is bad for the environment and for workers, because the caustic chemicals used in the process can be harmful to workers, as well as to aquatic life if the chemicals end up in rivers and lakes.
Wood pulp is used to create a fiber called lyocell. The best-known brand name under which lyocell is marketed is TENCEL™. The processing technologies to manufacture lyocell are more environmentally benign than those used to make bamboo fiber.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for clothing that fights wet sheets and garments resulting from hot flashes at night. Besides choosing among different fabrics, women have different preferences in bedtime attire. Some feel more comfortable wearing nightgowns or nightshirts, while others prefer pajamas with pants and tops. And of course, some prefer to go au natural.
Manufacturers have taken notice of the problem posed by hot flashes at night, and have realized that keeping women cool, comfortable, and dry in bed is a great business opportunity. As a result, there are now a number of companies that offer specialty sweat-wicking sleepwear.
Cool Sleepwear for Hot Flashes at Night
Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular cool sleepwear:
HotMama Sleepwear, a product of HotCool Wear™: Made from both Coolmax™ and bamboo fabrics, these garments are engineered to move sweat away from the body to the outer layer of the fabric so that it dries faster than most other fabrics. In addition to sleepwear, HotCool Wear has a selection of other clothing, ranging from lingerie to separates, caftans, and workout clothing. The company also offers pillow cases made of the same moisture-wicking fabrics.
Cool-jams™: Made from polyester microfiber, this brand of sleepwear wicks away moisture and is breathable, while also eliminating odor-causing bacteria. The manufacturer states that the fabric feels like cotton, but has a superior ability to wick and dry. The garments are said to combine the best features of natural and synthetic fibers. The company offers a large line of basic sleepwear in traditional styles.
PerformanceSleepwear: This online retailer has nightgowns, PJs, and cami-style nightshirts made from fabric developed to enhance wicking and eliminate odor-causing bacteria. It also sells pillowcases. The fabric breathes due to an open knit construction that increases airflow. The garments are also said to allow soil release for easy cleaning. The company’s Night Sweats Sleepwear (originally called DryDreams) was developed by Anne Best, whose own hot sweats were brought on by chemotherapy for breast cancer, with help from her husband.
Cool Nights by Soma: According to Soma, its Cool Nights line of sleepwear is made from a 93% rayon/7% spandex fabric that is breathable, soft, and doesn’t cling to the body. This sleepwear is said to retain its shape and continue to drape well after it’s machine washed.
For more options, go to Drinights, where you’ll find a selection of cool sleepwear from several manufacturers. The www.drinights.com online store offers a variety of sleepwear, from basic T-shirt tops to lacey nightgowns to pajamas with short and long pants. Drinights also offers a line of cool bedding, including sheets and pillowcases, comforters, and bed pads.
You Can Also Seek Help
If you’ve tried everything to stay cool at night but the hot flashes are still keeping you up, see your doctor. There are both prescription drugs that replace the hormones you’re losing (hormone replacement therapy) and herbal, non-prescription options (at this link you can learn more about one herbal product that improves sleep quality and reduces hot flashes at night†).
For more information about hormonal vs. non-hormonal therapies for hot flashes, see our article about hormone replacement drugs and herbal alternatives.
†Data supporting Relizen’s improvement in quality of sleep was gathered from our open-label study.