5 Natural Ways to Cool Off From Hot Flashes

by | Aug 16, 2019 | menopause, perimenopause | 4 comments

If you’re a woman over 40, you’ve very likely experienced the creeping, crawling feeling of heat rising up your body. The internal furnace burns so intensely, all you want to do is stand in front of your refrigerator with the doors wide open to cool off. Aaaahhhhh!

 
First Published: October 1, 2018… Last Updated: August 16, 2019

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Hot flashes are one of the most common side effects of the changing hormone levels of midlife. In the years of perimenopause, about 80% of women will feel that sudden feeling of heat that starts internally and radiates all throughout the body. For some women, it’s a sensation of burning cheeks. Other women are overcome with a heat that makes them physically uncomfortable or even sweaty.

What causes hot flashes?

Hot flashes are not a response to external temperature change. Instead, there is a miscommunication in your body about needing to cool off when you’re not actually hot. Your blood responds to the message by rushing to your skin so you can begin to sweat to promote cooling. The heat and sweating from the messed up messaging is a hot flash.

While hot flashes aren’t life-threatening or even dangerous, they are indeed most uncomfortable.

Hot flashes can happen to anyone, especially when you are going through the hormonal changes leading up to menopause. That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to lessen the effects. While researchers aren’t sure what purpose hot flashes serve, there are a few well-known ways you can reduce hot flashes.

 

5 Ways to Cool Off From Hot Flashes

If you’ve talked with girlfriends about their midlife experiences, chances are they each have a special method for dealing with hot flashes. Because every woman’s experience of the changing hormones of perimenopause is different, each remedy may not work for you. The following five methods are all natural ways to cool off from hot flashes and can be very effective.

 

 

Drinking water is a cheap and easy remedy for hot flashes

woman drinking water to cool off

If you are struggling with hot flashes and night sweats during menopause, it could be because you are dehydrated. If you are not drinking water all throughout the day, you’re likely not drinking enough it.

Hydration affects hot flashes because being the hypothalamus—the body’s thermostat—is one of the key sensors for your level of thirst. So if you feel thirsty, the hypothalamus may respond by kicking up your body temperature via a hot flash in an attempt to get you to drink more water.

Unfortunately, age apparently dampens the body’s thirst signal. This means that as we get older, we are likely to naturally drink less water than we used to. This chronic dehydration may be at the root of why you’re having hot flashes in the first place. Carry a water bottle with you so you can drink water regularly throughout the day.

Remember that you need extra water when exerting yourself during workouts or when it is especially hot out. If you are spending more time outdoors, you need to increase your water intake. One good way to tell if you are probably hydrated is by looking at the color of your urine. The clearer it is, the more hydrated you are. Keeping well hydrated has positive benefits beyond reducing hot flashes, too.

 

 

 

Choose your clothes wisely to help control hot flashes

breathable clothes on clothesline

One way to combat this is by wearing more breathable fabrics. Cotton is a natural fiber, so it breathes well. But not all cotton is created equal! A thin knit like jersey will be more comfortable than a thicker pique cotton.

Also, wearing layers allows you to quickly adjust your temperature. You can cool off by removing a sweater or jacket when a hot flash strikes.

And go ahead and ditch the thick socks when you can. Because they are an extremity, feet help to shed the body of excess heat. Keeping the feet open to the air allows you to stay cooler. This may be why you like to put your feet out of the covers at night.

The hot flashes tend to be worse at night, so many women also experience night sweats. It often feels like nothing you do will take away the intense heat you experience, making it really hard to sleep properly.

Many retailers now sell pajamas specifically for people who get hotter than normal, so these can help tremendously. Satin fabric helps to keep you cool while you sleep.

 

Change your sleeping environment to reduce hot flashes

sleep environment affects hot flashes

Your bedroom itself can also be what is making the heat sensations worse at night. Try to keep a fan blowing on you or sleep next to an open window for cool, fresh air at night. Having the air circulating around you may lessen the intensity of a hot flash.

There are also mattress pads and pillows that provide cooling power so that you are not too hot at night. Using silk sheets promotes a cooler body temperature, too. Topping your bed with a light down comforter is better than a thick comforter that provides too much warmth. Cool-Jams offers mattress pads, sheets, and pillow that help keep you cool at night.

All Cooling Bedding

It’s always a good idea to use a bedtime routine to help your body and mind calm down to prepare for sleep. This deep breathing and meditative process may also help control your body temperature. Meditation is great for menopause because it helps calm your nervous system. In turn, that may keep that pesky hypothalamus from sending the hot flash message.

 

 

Stop eating spicy foods

spicy peppers

If you tend to like hot and spicy foods, you might notice that your hot flashes are becoming more frequent than what your mild-taste girlfriends experience.

One of the recommendations to curb hot flashes is to stop eating spicy foods. The spice tends to heat you up internally, exactly like what happens with a hot flash. This means that eating spicy foods is like a hot flash and sweat-accelerator. Who wants that?!

The best thing you can do is start to limit how much spicy food you eat. This small dietary change may help to minimize your hot flashes or at least reduce their intensity.

 

Fight fire with fire– Get sweaty!

woman sweaty from exercise

If you’re experiencing hot flashes, the idea of intentionally making yourself hot may seem ridiculous. But when you exercise to the point of sweating and raise your body’s internal thermostat, you can fight fire with fire. This intense exercise can reset your body’s thermostat and lessen the body’s impetus to hot flash.

For those of you who are experiencing such severe hot flashes that you don’t want to exercise at all, it’s time to get creative. There are a few good options where you can still get in a great workout without making yourself hot and sweaty.

Becoming a morning exerciser will allow you to get your workout in before the hottest part of the day. But if you live somewhere with horrid morning humidity (like me!), that still may not sound like a workable solution.

Why don’t you head to the pool? Taking your workout into the pool, where the water is well below body temperature, can help you keep cool. Even though you won’t feel as hot, you can still get your heart rate up and experience the same thermostat-adjusting benefits.

Ice skating is my favorite perimenopause workout for women experiencing hot flashes. The coolness of the air in the rink and breeze from being on the ice may make you comfortable enough to push yourself through a heart-raising workout. Again, you’ll get the thermostat reset without aggravating the discomfort of hot flashes.

 

woman having a hot flash

 

When will my hot flashes go away?

Remember that even though hot flashes are common, they are not dangerous. Also, in full disclosure, just because you have ceased menstruation and are on the far side of menopause, that doesn’t mean your hot flashes will go away. Some women continue to experience hot flashes for decades. You may as well come up with a plan now to cool off when you have hot flashes!

 

How Do You Cool Off When You Have a Hot Flash?

Do you have a method that has worked for you to reduce or eliminate hot flashes? I’d love for you to leave it in the comments. Your experience could help another woman out!

 

Karen Shopoff Rooff is a certified health coach. The Well Balanced Women blog is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please discuss your health issues with a licensed medical practitioner.

4 Comments

  1. meredith

    Hi Coach Karen, I love your updates! I sweat…not just perspire…all of the time. My hair seems to always be wet! I am just coming to terms that this is not just a byproduct of a hot Texas summer! My take-away from your article is stop drinking coffee and drink much more water. I think I’m pretty hydrated because I drink lots of iced tea, but maybe the caffeine is hindering the benefits of water?
    Thanks for your insight!
    ~Hot in Cat Mountain xo

    Reply
    • karen@balancepft.com

      Hey there, Hot in Cat Mountain!! It stinks, but caffeine in tea and coffee is dehydrating. So a switch to just water may give you the hot-flash-fighting benefit you’re looking for. Stay cool!

      Reply
  2. Sue

    Hi Coach Karen,
    Just read your article and am inspired to exercise, thanks, it was the boost I needed to get started again. I have found that anything containing caffeine, sugar and/or alcohol induces hot flushes (that’s what we call them in the UK) which, pretty much, rules out all my favourite things! Guess I’ll just have to become more health conscious in my quest to become ‘cool’!
    Sue

    Reply
    • karen@balancepft.com

      Thanks for your comment, Sue. You’re right– caffeine, sugar, and alcohol are known inducers of hot flushes. It can be hard to cut them out completely, but knowing how much better even reducing their consumption can make you feel is really motivating. Small changes matter!

      Reply

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Meet Coach Karen

 

Karen Shopoff Rooff is a wife to one, mom to three, and coach to many. She has reaped the rewards of living a fit and active life. Her writing, speaking, and coaching encourage others to become Well Balanced Women.

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