Hot flashes, often experienced by women as an indication to a change in hormone levels, can be more than a mild nuisance 1. For many, hot flashes are especially intense at night, while lying down, which can cause sleep interruption 1.
What Is a Hot Flash?
A hot flash is generally a feeling of warmth and sweating, usually occurring in the upper half of the body. A hot flash typically lasts anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes; however, flashes can sometimes last up to an hour or longer 1.
Hot Flashes In Bed
You can have hot flashes while lying down because your body is adjusting to a sudden change in temperature, most likely due to your nightly relaxing routine, which usually initially brings your body temperature lower 1. As you get ready for bed and put on warmer clothing and cover yourself with blankets, you are increasing your body's temperature and blood flow to the brain.
Hot flashes occur while you’re lying down because your body is attempting to heat itself up to match the external temperature around you 1. When you get in bed, or put a warm laptop on your lap in bed, the environment around your body instantly goes up, and your blood vessels begin dilating to compensate for the rise in temperature.
Hormones and Hot Flashes
To regulate your core body temperature, your blood vessels dilate to release heat. The amount of estrogen your body is producing may be directly linked to how your body regulates its thermoregulatory center. During menopause, your body has a lower degree of tolerance before it begins regulating core temperature. This means that instead of having a leeway of a few degrees, your skin blood vessels begin dilating at only .8 degrees C change.
By adjusting your room temperature just a few degrees lower at night, you can usually control the nightly hot flashes you experience while lying down in bed 1. You might also try only pulling the covers up half way at first, before you get cozy and too warm. Studies show that engaging in a physical fitness routine each day, lowers the frequency and severity of hot flashes experienced during menopause 1.