29 Jul 2014
Frazzled by Hot Flashes? Take a Deep Breath…
I get asked lots of questions about what works to help with hot flashes. The truth is, the data is sparse and inconsistent. A whole lot of things have been tried (herbs, antidepressants, acupuncture) with varying degrees of success depending on the study design.
However, one technique called “paced respiration” has been shown to reduce the severity of hot flashes by 44%! No hormones; no side effects.
The “How To”
Like any new technique, paced respiration takes practice. Try to do it twice daily, for 15 minutes at a time. It is most effective if you can stop what you’re doing when you first feel the flash coming.
- Sit in a comfortable, quiet place.
- As you breathe, keep your rib cage still. You will be lowering and raising your diaphragm to fill and empty your lungs.
- Inhale for 5 seconds, pushing your stomach muscles out.
- Exhale for 5 seconds, pulling your stomach muscles in and up.
- Repeat this cycle of breathing until you feel calm and relaxed or your time is up.
Why Does It Work?
It’s not clear exactly why paced respiration works. One explanation is that it calms the sympathetic nervous system, enhances circulation and induces a relaxation response which eases the hot flash.
This technique is one of the first things I recommend to the clients I work with who are plagued by hot flashes and night sweats. You can do it almost anywhere and it’s free. Give it a try!