7 Reasons Your Menopause Pajamas Might Not Be Working

You’ve purchased your menopause pajamas with the anticipation of a good night’s sleep for the first time since those dreaded night sweats started. But when you wake up in the morning, you’re still hot, damp and exhausted. In other words, no change at all. Disappointed that the pjs didn’t do what the company promised, you chalk your experience up to “buyer beware.” If you’re lucky, the company you bought your sleepwear from has a money-back guarantee (the most reputable brands do. For instance, we offer a 60 day guarantee).

In the end, though, the whole “menopause pajamas” experience has left you jaded. You’re not willing to try another company, even with a guarantee, and instead decide that you’re just going to suffer through those night sweats until they end.

If this is you, then I know what you’re going through. I’ve been where you are. It’s the main reason I started CoolYourSweats – to give people another night sweats sleepwear option – our sleepwear is completely different to what’s available because of our very unique fabric.

But here’s the thing, while some of the sleepwear brands will work, there are those that don’t – at least not to the extent that chronic night sweats sufferers need. And for those who have decided just to ditch the pjs altogether, then your sheets and bedding become your sleepwear – and behave in the same way it would have. So the sheets need to “work” in the same way your sleepwear does, or they will be as soggy and miserable as your sleepwear.

As you’ll see below, sometimes it is, in fact, the sleepwear, and sometimes there are other factors that prevent the sleepwear from doing its job.

So, let’s get on with the reasons why your sleepwear isn’t keeping you dry and comfortable all night long. Hopefully, by the end of the article you’ll see ways to adjust things so that it does start working for you and you can get the dry and comfortable sleep that you’ve been longing for.

1. You’re sleeping in the wrong sheets

You might be wondering what sheets have to do with sleepwear and night sweats. You have to look at your whole bed linen/sleepwear/mattress and mattress cover as a complete system and the way each layer interacts with the other can be a significant factor in whether you stay dry and comfortable or whether you’re clammy, sweaty, and exhausted in the morning.

The worst sheets for night sweats are made from:

  • Luxury cotton (400 thread count and higher)
  • Microfibre (which is polyester)
  • Polyester and polyester blends
  • Silk

Luxury cotton sheets are densely woven. The thread count indicates how many threads (yarn) are woven within one square inch of fabric. The tighter the weave, usually, the softer the fabric. Unfortunately for night sweats sufferers, it also means that it will trap heat next to you. So, any sweat you produce transfers from your sleepwear to the sheets where it can stay if the sheets love soaking up water, as cotton does.

Silk, on the other hand, does not love water. Over time, silk sheets can degrade with the moisture added to them. Further, silk is a thermal insulator, so less is more. Light silk sheets will help with breathability – but are more likely to degrade with the amount of moisture they receive over time.

Polyester and microfibre (also polyester) are derived from petroleum. It is basically the same as sleeping in plastic wrap and will prevent heat and moisture from escaping unless specifically design to do so. If the heat and moisture from your body has nowhere to go, it will stay in your sleepwear, keeping you clammy and uncomfortable all night long.

The best sheets you can sleep in are made from:

  • Linen (linen blends are good too; majority linen)
  • Hemp and hemp/cotton blends – majority fibre hemp
  • Cotton sheets with a low thread count, 280-350, ELS/Egyptian/Supima/Pima organic cotton is ideal as they will last longer and not pill, but not necessary
  • Tencel, especially made from bamboo or hemp
  • Merino wool sheets – summer weight

In all cases, select low to medium thread counts. Densely woven sheets, while they feel great, will trap the heat next to you, preventing your sleepwear from doing its job. Hemp, linen and wool (especially wool) are also insulating fabrics, so less is more. When you suffer from night sweats, you actually need some insulation to trap some heat for when your temperature plummets after the hot flash.

2. Your blanket or duvet is too heavy orlocks in heat

            You may be using the lightest blanket available, but if it’s made from the wrong material, it will prevent the heat and moisture from escaping as well. The worst fabric for blankets are:

  • Polyester and microfibre blankets and regular weight duvets– even thin ones will trap heat and sweat and keep it next to you
  • Polyester comforters
  • Quilts with polyester filling
  • Wool duvets of any weight
  • Down-filled duvets

All of these products are not just insulating, they trap heat and let heat build up over time.

The best outer layers are:

  • Thin wool blankets, (one or two, depending on your night sweats)
  • Cotton blankets (one or two, depending on your night sweats)
  • Linen or hemp cover/blanket

These types of materials will keep you warm while allowing heat and moisture to escape. Naturally, if you have a wool allergy stay away from wool and choose cotton blankets. Linen and hemp covers (usually duvet covers) are great but also powerful, so you need as light as possible.

Experiment with different weights and thicknesses. If you have old cotton or wool blankets in your closet, bring them out and try different combinations to see if they can make your nights dryer and more comfortable.

3. You have a waterproof mattress cover

Waterproof mattress covers, even breathable ones, often have a layer of PVC in them. PVC's job is to protect your mattress from liquids and plastic is the most effective material for that purpose. Unfortunately, it is also completely unbreathable. The PVC layer will let heat build up around you preventing it evaporating. The heat and moisture have nowhere to go and will stay next to you in your sheets and sleepwear. For non-night sweats sufferers, a breathable waterproof mattress will likely be fine, but for night sweats sufferers, you need to ditch the waterproof mattress cover and use a non-waterproof one.

The best way to tell if your mattress cover is making you hot is to remove it for a night or two and see if you are more comfortable and wake up less sweaty.

A caveat to this is that this experiment only works if you don’t have a foam mattress. Which leads us to the next reason.

4. Your mattress is standard synthetic foam, including memory foam

Synthetic foam, such as most memory foams, is made from petroleum derivatives. It is another form of plastic. And, as such, it neither breathes nor handles moisture well. Just like with a waterproof mattress protector, all that heat and moisture you’re producing can’t go anywhere if you’re sleeping on a foam mattress and will stay in your sheets and sleepwear.

The only exception is if you have a “cooling” foam mattress – one specifically designed to draw the heat away from you. If you are using a waterproof mattress cover over it, it won’t work to its full potential.

Alternatives to foam mattresses

Better alternatives to foam mattresses are coil and spring, or foam mattresses with a pillowtop made from wool, cotton, hemp or linen (these last two fabrics for mattresses are hard to find).

You can figure out if your mattress is preventing your sleepwear from drying out in the morning if the side of your body that’s in contact with the mattress is wet when you wake up and the rest of you is dry or drier than that side.

If you think your mattress is preventing the heat and moisture from evaporating, you can use a breathable, non-waterproof mattress cover. It should be effective enough to help prevent heat and moisture build up.

Great options are mattress covers made from linen, hemp and Tencel. 100% cotton will work, and rayon/bamboo viscose (which is rayon unless otherwise indicated), will also help. A budget-friendly option is a non-waterproof polyester mattress cover. 

5. Your menopause sleepwear is made from the wrong fabric

The least expensive option for sleepwear classified as “menopause sleepwear” is primarily made from bamboo viscose – a form of rayon. I’ve written an article on why it’s not effective for most night sweats sufferers. In a nutshell, for people who are riding a rollercoaster of temperature and moisture swings all night long, bamboo viscose is not capable of managing those changes. The processing of bamboo into rayon yarn leaves no natural properties of bamboo so it’s really just rayon. Rayon, while breathable, is not engineered to manage heat and moisture.  

Hemp and linen fabrics, on the other hand, are manufactured to preserve the natural wicking and heat managing properties of the fibres. They pull the heat and moisture away from you naturally. Further, they continue to work throughout the night, as long as the heat and moisture are drawn away by the next layer (hence, the need for the right sheets and blankets/duvets).

6. Your room temperature is too warm

Night sweats are often exacerbated by other things, known as triggers. One common trigger is your room temperature. If your room is too warm, it can cause your night sweats to activate more often (check out our night sweats e-journal to help you identify your triggers).

I like a really cold room – around 15/16C (60F). My husband gripes that he has to wear a tuque (ski hat) to bed. Even with our room temperature super cold, I still only sleep with a thin blanket and quilt. I can’t tolerate a duvet anymore. It’s kind of sad because I love the weight of a big duvet but my body breaks out into a massive sweat if I’m under one.

7. Your sleepwear may not be “strong” enough to manage your night sweats

The reality is you may be doing everything right. You may have the right sleepwear, sheets, blankets, mattress and/or cover and sleep in a cold, dark room and still have terrible, miserable night sweats that keep you up at night. Fabric is a sponge and can only wick and manage so much heat and sweat. Choosing the right layers will give you a fighting chance as the heat and sweat are pulled through to each layer before evaporating. If the heat doesn’t build up, you are less likely to trigger a hot flash and more likely to get a better sleep.

If your night sweats are menopause-related, then you should see your health care practitioner about options to help alleviate them. Do not suffer in silence. There are hormone and non-hormone related options available to help.

Night sweats sleepwear alone can help many people, but often it’s one piece of the night sweats puzzle. Many of our customers are on hormone therapy and still use our sleepwear as the final step that helps them sleep again.

Sleep is crucial to our long- and short-term health. Without it we cannot function, nor can we address the other menopause symptoms that might be occurring. If you can manage your night sweats, you can start sleeping better and with better sleep you are more able to deal with the other symptoms that might crop up.

I hope these tips will help you get a better sleep. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section!


You may also like:

Alternatives to bamboo fabric

Natural remedies to manage hot flashes and night sweats

Why do I get night sweats?

Retour au blog