A hot flash is a sudden feeling of warmth in your upper body, often followed by sweating. Hot flashes are known as night sweats when they happen at night. They’re a common symptom of menopausal transition.

If you get hot flashes, you’re not alone. Up to 75% of women in the perimenopause stage of life in the United States report experiencing hot flashes.

During a hot flash, you’ll likely feel warmth spreading across your chest, neck, and face. This may be followed by sudden sweating. You may also have other symptoms, such as:

  • pounding or fluttering heartbeat
  • headache
  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • anxiety

Hot flashes can be uncomfortable and may disrupt your sleep or other routine activities.

Certain lifestyle changes may help you limit and manage hot flashes. Your doctor may also recommend nonhormonal medication or hormone therapy to treat them.

Certain lifestyle changes may help you limit hot flash triggers and symptoms.

1. Triggers

Certain environmental factors or exposures may trigger hot flashes or night sweats.

Potential triggers include:

  • warm environments
  • warm clothing
  • warm bedding
  • hot drinks
  • spicy foods
  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • smoking
  • secondhand smoke
  • excess weight
  • emotional stress

Taking steps to limit or avoid these triggers may help reduce the frequency, duration, or severity of hot flashes.

2. Daytime habits

Practicing the following habits may help limit hot flash triggers and promote good overall health and comfort:

  • Eat a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet that supports your weight management goals.
  • Exercise regularly to promote restful sleep, decrease stress, and manage your weight.
  • Practice stress-relieving activities, such as rhythmic breathing, meditation, or yoga.
  • Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake, including in the hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid smoking or inhaling second-hand smoke.

Maintaining a comfortable body temperature may also help limit hot flash symptoms.

Here are some strategies that you may find helpful:

  • Wear loose, lightweight clothing.
  • Dress in layers that you can remove easily if you begin to feel warm.
  • Use fans or air conditioners to cool your home, workplace, or vehicle.
  • Carry a small, handheld fan that you can use on the go.
  • Sip cool water or other cool beverages.

Your doctor may also recommend other lifestyle changes to manage hot flashes.

If you smoke, they can recommend resources to help you cut back and quit.

3. Relief while sleeping

Adjusting your bedroom environment and bedtime routine may help you manage night sweats and promote restful sleep. For example, consider following these tips:

  • Avoid exercise, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Establish a calming bedtime routine to reduce stress.
  • Turn down the temperature in your bedroom before you go to sleep.
  • Use a ceiling or bedside fan to help cool the room while you sleep.
  • Use lightweight sheets and blankets and wear loose, lightweight clothing to bed.
  • Flip your pillow throughout the night to keep the cool side against your face.
  • Use a cooling gel pillow or put an ice pack under your pillow to help cool it.
  • Keep an insulated bottle filled with cold water by your bed so you can take sips when you feel warm.
  • Keep a bottle of cooling spray or spray bottle with ice water by your bed to mist your skin when needed.

You may also find it helpful to sleep alone or invest in a large bed if you share it with a partner.

4. Diet and supplements

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), scientists have not clearly shown that any nutritional approaches are helpful for relieving symptoms of menopausal transition.

More research is needed to learn whether certain foods, dietary supplements, or herbal remedies may help limit hot flashes or other symptoms of menopausal transition.

Always talk with your doctor before taking dietary supplements or herbal remedies. Some supplements or herbal extracts may cause side effects or interact with other medications. One brand or product may vary from another.

Some people believe that the following foods or supplements may help limit hot flashes:

  • Soy, red clover, or flaxseed: These products contain phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that have a similar chemical structure as estrogen. Research findings on phytoestrogens for menopause symptoms have been mixed.
  • Vitamin E with omega-3: A 2022 meta-analysis found that taking a combination of vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acid supplements may help reduce hot flashes, but the quality of evidence was low. More research is needed to confirm the results.
  • Black cohosh extract: A 2023 meta-analysis found that black cohosh extracts may help reduce hot flashes, but findings on this topic has been mixed. Rare cases of serious liver damage have been reported among people who have taken black cohosh extracts.
  • Evening primrose oil: Although some people have used evening primrose oil to manage menopause symptoms, a 2020 systematic review found it was not effective for reducing hot flashes or night sweats.

Some people have also used other foods or supplements to manage menopausal symptoms, but more research is needed to learn whether those alternative and complementary treatments are safe and effective.

5. Other complementary approaches

The NCCIH reports that the following complementary therapies have shown promise for reducing hot flashes:

  • acupuncture
  • hypnotherapy
  • mindfulness meditation
  • yoga

More research is needed to learn how effective these treatments are for hot flashes

They’re generally considered safe for most people, but it’s best to speak with your doctor before trying any new treatment. They can help you understand the potential benefits and risks.

Let your doctor know if hot flashes are negatively affecting your quality of life, sleep, or other activities.

In some cases, they may prescribe nonhormonal medication or hormone therapy to treat hot flashes.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two nonhormonal medications for hot flashes:

  • fezolinetant (Veozah)
  • paroxetine (Brisdelle)

Doctors may also prescribe other nonhormonal medications that the FDA has not specifically approved for hot flashes. This is known as off-label prescribing.

Multiple nonhormonal medications have shown benefits for treating hot flashes, including:

  • anti-depressant medications, such as:
    • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft)
    • selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), such as venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
  • gabapentin (Neurontin), an antiseizure drug that’s also used to treat epilepsy, migraine, and nerve pain
  • clonidine (Kapvay), an antihypertensive drug that’s used to lower high blood pressure

In some cases, your doctor may prescribe sleeping medication to help you sleep through hot flashes.

They can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of different treatments.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) helps to stabilize estrogen and progesterone levels in your body.

It’s very effective for treating hot flashes and some other symptoms of menopausal transition, but it carries a risk of serious side effects and may not be safe for everyone.

A 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study found that certain types of HRT raised the risk of:

  • stroke
  • heart attack
  • deep vein thrombosis
  • pulmonary embolism
  • breast cancer

Follow-up research found that the risk of side effects from HRT was lower for younger women compared with women over the age of 60 and those in the postmenopausal stage of life.

Newer formulations of HRT also appear to be safer than older formulations.

Your doctor can help you learn more about the potential benefits and risks of HRT. For some people, the potential benefits may outweigh the risks. Your doctor will consider factors such as your age and medical history when deciding whether HRT may be a safe option for you.

Hot flashes and night sweats can negatively affect your quality of life, sleep, and overall well-being.

Making certain lifestyle changes may help limit hot flashes. You may find it helpful to identify and avoid triggers, practice healthy lifestyle habits, and adjust your bedroom environment or bedtime routine.

Acupuncture, hypnosis, mindfulness meditation, and yoga have also shown promise for reducing hot flashes. They’re generally considered safe for most people.

Always talk with your doctor before trying dietary supplements or herbal remedies for hot flashes. More research is needed to learn how safe and effective these treatments are.

In some cases, your doctor may prescribe nonhormonal medication or hormone therapy to treat hot flashes and night sweats. They can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of different medications.

What works for one person to relieve hot flashes and night sweats might not work well for another. If you’re trying different treatments, consider keeping a symptom and sleep diary to help you learn what helps the most.