Cotton Is Rotten For Night Sweats

Best fabrics for night sweats in menopause

The 3 best sleepwear fabrics when you suffer from night sweats in menopause

Night sweats are one of the worst symptoms of perimenopause, menopause, and post-menopause. They are worse than the day-version – hot flashes – because of the simple fact that they interfere with your sleep. If they occur continuously, they can leave you sleep-deprived.

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Why Do Night Sweats Happen to Good Women?

According to Christiane Northrup, author of The Wisdom of Menopause, hot flashes and night sweats arise as estrogen and progesterone start to decline in uneven amounts.

This decline influences neurotransmitter changes in the brain that start unpredictably signaling the hypothalamus (your body’s temperature control center) to cool down immediately – even when you don’t need to. So, your body starts a chain reaction of events resulting in a hot flash.

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Take Control of Your Night Sweats

The good news is that for most women, menopausal night sweats don’t last forever. But if they persist to the point where they are causing sleep deprivation there are ways you can control and even eliminate them through lifestyle changes.

In addition to adjusting your diet, drinking enough water, and getting plenty of exercise, you can practice a good sleep routine and select the right fabrics for your sleepwear and bedding.

A common suggestion is that you should wear natural fabric, in particular, cotton because it is breathable.  Surprisingly, cotton is a poor choice for night sweats sufferers.

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For Night Sweats Sufferers “Cotton is Rotten”

Let’s dig a little deeper into what happens during a night sweat. Let’s imagine that you, your bed, and covers are a structure – say, a sauna. Your body is the “furnace,” – providing the heat, while your sleepwear and covers are the insulation.

When you suffer from night sweats, your furnace – which had been very predictable before menopause – suddenly becomes erratic, spouting off whenever it feels like it. Your heart starts racing, and your blood vessels in your skin dilate, causing your skin to heat up. Meanwhile, your sweat glands (akin to an air conditioning unit) kick into gear, producing moisture in an attempt to cool you off.

If your bed covers act as insulation, the heat and moisture have nowhere to go. The moisture soaks your sleepwear, and it is going to stick to you like glue – or in this case, water, dampening your bedding and clinging to your body.

Even if you wake up just enough to throw your covers off as your body bursts into proverbial flames, as soon as the hot flash is over, your body temperature plummets, and the sweat absorbed by cotton sleepwear is now cold and wet, sticking to your skin.

The outdoor athletic community has a saying: “cotton is rotten.” The same can be said when sleeping with night sweats. Cotton loves water, and it dries slowly, reluctant to give up that water molecule, keeping the moisture next to your skin, making you uncomfortable.

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So, if you don’t wear cotton to bed when you have night sweats, what should you wear?

Here are the best fabrics to wear to bed that help you sleep more comfortably, less disturbed, and hopefully wake up rested.

1- Hemp:

Due to the molecular structure of the hemp fiber, it naturally draws moisture and heat away from your body quickly. The fiber’s hollow core allows it to store a certain amount of heat and release it as you cool down. Your body temperature fluctuations become less noticeable, resulting in less cover-flipping and a better overall night’s sleep. It is also naturally anti-bacterial, so it tends not to need washing as frequently as cotton. While hemp garments tend to be expensive, it’s a very strong fiber, so they last a long time. Hemp is often blended with cotton or lyocell to provide a softer overall feel.

2- Linen:

Linen naturally manages heat and moisture and is also anti-bacterial. It gets softer with age and lasts forever. It dries quickly and, like hemp, conducts heat well, whisking it away from your body quickly. It’s not as effective as hemp as storing heat and releasing it as your body cools, and, like hemp, garments tend toward the expensive side.

3- Lyocell:

Lyocell is a semi-synthetic fabric that uses cellulose-based materials (trees or bamboo usually) as its base and turns it into a strong, light, moisture-managing fabric. Like linen and hemp, it is fast drying. It is a strong, long-lasting fiber. When blended with a softer fiber, such as cotton, it provides the stretch and versatility of a soft, absorbent fabric.

cotton is bad for night sweats in menopause

One last thing to consider. If you sleep in the nude, then your sheets become your sleepwear. If you have cotton sheets, you may notice they are frequently damp in the morning. You could try investing in linen, lyocell, or hemp sheets which should handle the moisture and heat much better, allowing you to sleep more comfortably.

If you’re battling night sweats, take heart – for most women, they will eventually stop. However, for those women who last beyond the breaking point, there are measures you can take to get your sleep back. If you wear cotton sleepwear, consider exchanging it for better, more breathable fabric, and a good night’s sleep may be in your near future.

This is a guest blog by Catherine Rust. She is the founder of Partridgeberry Apparel, a company dedicated to helping women get their sleep back.

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2 thoughts on “Cotton Is Rotten For Night Sweats”

  1. This is so true! I had always believed that cotton was the more natural, breathable fabric for sleeping (even though I’m a “cotton is rotten” runner and biker), but having tried a hemp nightgown I’m a convert. My reward has been no more sweat soaked cotton sticking to me – in fact I’m having less night sweats overall. Thanks for the informative article.


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