In December 2019, I wrote how I have started using hormone replacement therapy again. For some or other reason, my hot flushes had disappeared for some time, only to return double-fold in the warm summer of 2019.
Ever since I started using HRT again, I seem to have the hot flushes under control.
At night they are being a bitch.
We have a rather set bedtime routine, going upstairs at 9pm on nights when we have to work the next day, and going to sleep by 10.30pm. When we don’t have to work the next day, we tend to go to bed after midnight.
No matter what time we go to bed, I always sleep for 2-3 hours before I wake up for the first time, mostly to go to the bathroom. When I get back in bed, it starts.
Now I can’t sleep without something covering me, and that something can’t be only a sheet, as I then feel cold. I need a bit of ‘weight’ on top of me, even if it’s only a thin duvet. When I get back into bed after my bathroom run, I pull the covers over me, and within five minutes I kick them off.
It seems to start everywhere. My feet get warm. My head gets warm. My back, my bottom, my thighs, my tummy, my chest, everything. Then my heart starts beating faster, so fast, that I can feel it high in my chest, and with that, I also notice my breathing. Hard and fast, high in my chest. It’s almost the same as when I have a panic attack, except these don’t make me feel like I am having a heart attack. They just make me feel… well… meh. Sometimes all of this is followed by sweating, but thankfully that doesn’t always happen.
This goes on through the night. Sometimes I fall asleep and half an hour later I am awake again, and the whole things repeats itself. Sometimes I sleep for an hour, sometimes two, but I wake up like this several times at night. Sometimes I only wake up when the sweating starts.
Breathe, just breathe
When these nighttime episodes started, the irritated me. Annoyed me. I hated that they stole my sleep. I thought if I could get my breathing under control, I might be able to sleep again, so I read up on how I could stop hyperventilation. I lay there in bed, in the midst of the night, concentrating so hard on my breathing, to get it under control. Breath in through my nose, hold for four counts, breathe out through my mouth, counting to eight. Or something like that.
I ended up concentrating so much on my breathing and trying to get it to calm down, that I kept myself awake for longer. Also, most night I found it difficult to breathe out through my mouth, after breathing in through my nose. It was as if there was… er… some kind of ‘block’? Yes, I know… strange. But my reality.
I decided to take a different approach. Instead of getting irritated or annoyed, of concentrating on my breathing, I decided to surrender.
Surrender to the feeling.
Accept that menopause is part of who I am now. That some transitioning is happening in my body, and its trying to find a balance with the different hormone levels.
Now when I come back from the bathroom, I still pull the covers over me, attempt to fall asleep and when that warm feeling starts spreading through my body, I push the covers off, keep calm and attempt to fall asleep while it happens. I still notice my heartbeat, and accept it. I still notice my breathing, and accept it. I still notice the sweating when it happens, and accept it.
To me, this is all that helps. If I fight the feeling in any way, or allow it to irritate me, it only makes it worse.
So, from the moment I had my nightly bathroom run (I promise, I walk, don’t run), the rest of my night is filled with slipping in under the covers, then pushing them off. Repeat. I still have broken sleep, but I seem to fall back to sleep more easily than before, because I just accept what is happening to my body.
This works for me, and something different might work for you, and if it does, I would love to hear about it!
One thing I am really thankful for is that I don’t have daytime sweats anymore. The tablets I take — pregnenalone — really helps to keep the daytime hot flushes under control, and to be honest, I will much rather be hot and sweaty in bed, than when I am in the office!
© Rebel’s Notes