What causes night sweats? How to stop them?
If these questions sound familiar to you, I can help.
Night sweats is a more common symptom than you think. There are many reasons that can cause you to wake up with drenched pajamas. While some problems can be easily fixed, other health issues associated with this condition can be more severe.
Night sweats, also called hyperhidrosis, refers to excessive sweating during the night. It may not sound like a serious problem, however, it has a significant impact on the quality of your sleep and can signalize some serious health issues.
If you’re encountering this problem, then you should experience frequent nightly disruptions due to excessive sweating. But don’t get it wrong. The true night sweats do not occur due to the high room temperature but rather develop as a result of more severe problems.
In this article, I will distinguish the difference between the actual night sweats and the ones caused by environmental factors, introduce you to more serious health issues, associated with this condition, and answer the question - “what causes night sweats?”.
Table of Contents
- 1. Not Real Night Sweats
- 1.1. Too High Bedroom Temperature
- 1.2. Too Warm Pajamas or Bedding
- 2. Health Conditions Associated with Night Sweats
- 2.1. Menopause
- 2.2. Hypoglycemia
- 2.3. Idiopathic Hyperhidrosis
- 2.4. Hormone Disorders/Imbalance
- 2.5. Infections
- 2.6. Certain Medications
- 2.7. Neurologic Conditions
- 2.8. GERD
- 2.9. Pregnancy
- 3. How to Stop Night Sweats?
- 3.1. Visit Internist
- 3.2. Get a Cooling Mattress
- 3.3. Reduce Stress
- 3.4. Lower the Bedroom Temperature
- 3.5. Less Bedding and Clothing
- 3.6. Keep a Glass of Water by the Bed
- 3.7. Healthy Lifestyle
- 3.8. No Alcohol Before Bed
- 4. When to be Concerned About Night Sweats?
- 5. Conclusions
Not Real Night Sweats
Before moving to more serious issues, let’s take a look into the environmental reasons that can cause you to wake up soaked in sweat.
Too High Bedroom Temperature
If you set your room temperature too high, don’t be surprised to wake up soaked in sweat.
Based on the research, you should make sure that your room temperature is not higher than 75 and no lower than 54 degrees Fahrenheit. The best room warmth for sleeping is about 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit or 15-19 degrees Celsius.
60 degrees sounds pretty cool, however, there’s a reason for that. During NREM sleep, your body temperature decreases by 2 degrees Fahrenheit. The longer you’re experiencing this sleep episode, the more your body heat drops.
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Too Warm Pajamas or Bedding
Similarly to too high room temperature, sweating while sleeping can be caused by the warm clothing and bedding. If you’re sleeping in synthetic pajamas or wear too many layers of clothing, then you shouldn’t be asking “what causes night sweats?”.
Since your body naturally cools down during the night, you don’t need to wear a bunch of clothes. The best way to guarantee the proper thermoregulation is by sleeping naked. If you’re unaware, thermoregulation is the ability that allows our body to maintain our temperature within specific boundaries.
Thus, make sure to wear less clothing or sleep naked, if you prefer.
These causes of night sweats are super easy to fix. All you need to do is set the appropriate room temperature, get a fan, and try sleeping naked, or simply change your pajamas. Needless to say, this shouldn't be mistaken with true night sweats and can be only associated with inappropriate sleeping conditions.
Health Conditions Associated with Night Sweats
If you’re suffering from excessive night sweating on a daily basis, you should know about some serious issues associated with this condition. Read further and find out the most common causes of night sweats.
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The hot flashes associated with menopause transition are highly connected with night sweats. It’s really common during perimenopause and can last for a few years.
The hot flashes that I’ve mentioned, appear as a result of fluctuating hormone levels that raise your body temperature. Needless to say, this is the most probable answer to the question “what causes night sweats?.
Hypoglycemia, which is also known as low blood sugar, can be the reason for regular night sweats. People who have diabetes and take insulin or oral anti-diabetic medications can experience hypoglycemia and excessive nighttime sweating as one of the most common side effects.
Hyperhidrosis can appear at a young age or later in life. Most commonly, it occurs during the teenage years and leads to excessive sweating.
The term “Idiopathic” means “of unknown cause”. Thus, unfortunately, the cause of the Hyperhidrosis remains unidentified up to now.
There are several hormone diseases that are associated with sweating while sleeping. Such as:
- Pheochromocytoma. A rare tumor of the adrenal gland that causes the release of too much epinephrine and norepinephrine.
- Carcinoid syndrome. Overproduction of certain hormones.
- Hyperthyroidism. Excessive levels of the hormone thyroxine.
Thus, if you have certain hormone disorders, it can be quite obvious what causes night sweats for you.
The infection, most commonly associated with night sweats is usually tuberculosis. However, there are other infections that might be causing sweating while sleeping. These include:
If you have any suspicions associated with these problems, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Medications can easily lead to night sweats. Most commonly it’s associated with the usage of antidepressants. This is a very frequent side effect which is experienced by almost 25% of people who use various types of antidepressants.
What is more, the medication that’s used to lower a fever is most likely to cause flushing. And other drugs that can cause sweating include:
Even if not commonly, neurologic conditions are also associated with increased sweating. Such illnesses are:
There’s a possibility that excessive night sweating is showing the early stages of cancer. Such a side effect is common for leukemia, prostate, lymphoma and thyroid cancer.
I don't mean to freak you out. If you have cancer, other symptoms would reveal that as well, so, you would know, for sure, that there's something wrong with your health.
GERD can be often caused by the prone sleeping position and damaging esophagus tissue. One of the best ways to fight it is by sleeping on the wedge pillow.
If you keep asking "what causes night sweats?", then maybe you’re pregnant but still unaware of it? During pregnancy, you will experience various hormonal changes that will, most likely, lead to sleeping problems. It’s not a secret that one of them is excessive nighttime sweating - it affects about one-third of the pregnant women.
Now that you know what causes night sweats, let’s see how it can be stopped,
How to Stop Night Sweats?
There are various solutions that can show you how to stop night sweats, however, if it’s associated with a serious disease, nothing will help unless you treat it.
Before making any reckless decision, you should go to see a doctor. Such problems as excessive night sweats are usually treated by internists, family practice specialists, or gynecologists.
However, if it’s related to a more serious disease or a specific condition, the doctor will send you to other specialists, such as infectious disease specialists, neurologists, oncologists, or endocrinologists. So, don’t be surprised if the doctor will ask you to make an additional observation.
Get a Cooling Mattress
If you’re sleeping on the old memory foam mattress, it’s time to stop torturing yourself. Never save money on your health - it’s the greatest wealth we have. You see, memory foam mattresses (except the top providers) tend to trap your body heat and make you feel like sleeping in the mattress, rather than on top of it. Needless to say, it can be one of the major causes of night sweats.
If you want to get a cooling mattress that actually works, you should pick such options as innerspring, hybrid, latex, or even gel memory foam bed. They can provide you with more support and are way more breathable.
You can also pick various cooling accessories that will chill your body, even more, leading to the most precious night sleep you’ve ever experienced.
Stress is often what causes night sweats. While it may not seem like a serious enough reason to cause excessive sweating, chronic stress can be the provocateur of the most serious illnesses.
Try to reduce the level of stress you’re experiencing, and you will see the major difference in your well-being.
While it can be quite difficult, take short breaks during the day for yourself, listen to calm music, relaxation sounds, go to a spa or take up yoga. It will be more than helpful.
Lower the Bedroom Temperature
I’ve already mentioned that sleeping in a too hot bedroom will lead to frequent waking up during the night. Since your body temperature decreases by two degrees during NREM sleep, the best bedroom temperature is about 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit or 15-19 degrees Celsius.
If you’re experiencing the heat waves during the summer, then get a fan for your bedroom. It will provide extra coolness while you’re sleeping.
Less Bedding and Clothing
If you’re sleeping hot, it doesn’t mean you have a particular condition or some sort of disorder. Too much bedding and clothing are often what causes night sweats.
If you want to sleep cooler, you shouldn’t wear layers of clothing. Rather try sleeping naked or with pajamas made of cotton. Since bedding is also what causes night sweats, you should invest in quality covers that are made of cotton and linen. Trust me, it makes a huge difference.
Keep a Glass of Water by the Bed
Drink more water and make sure to keep a glass of cool water together with ice cubes. If you wake up due to excessive nighttime sweating, you will be able to drink a glass of water right away and decrease your body heat.
Obese people have an extra layer of isolation, due to which, their body no longer manages to thermoregulate temperature properly. That’s often what causes night sweats.
If you have issues with your weight and keep asking how to stop night sweats, a healthy lifestyle could be an answer to all of your issues. All you need to do is choose a wholesome diet and exercise regularly to get into shape.
No Alcohol Before Bed
When the alcohol wears off, your body temperature rises and causes excessive sweating (in most cases). So, keep up with the healthy lifestyle and never drink alcohol before going to bed.
When to be Concerned About Night Sweats?
By now, the causes of excessive sweating should be clear. However, one important question still remains - “when to be concerned about night sweats?”.
If you’re experiencing this problem and have noticed a health worsening, do not hesitate and visit your doctor right away. I don’t mean to scare you but night sweats can signalize the beginning of a serious health issue. The sooner the problem is detected, the easier it will be to treat it.
However, if you’re experiencing this problem for quite some time and doctors do not find any issue, take my advice and try less bedding, sleeping naked, get a cooling mattress and reduce the room temperature. These are the very first changes you should implement to see the results quickly.
Furthermore, start exercising (try yoga) and eat healthier. That should help to reduce the stress that’s often what causes night sweats. Just remember that changes take time and you will definitely need more than a week to feel the difference.
Therefore, the answer to the question - “when to be concerned about night sweats?”, is - right now.
Therefore, as promised, I introduced you to the environmental reasons and health issues that can be the cause of night sweats.
The basic changes you should make to stop the night sweats include decreasing the room temperature, wearing less clothing, investing in a cooling mattress and getting breathable covers.
The conditions that can cause excessive sweating during the night include menopause, hypoglycemia, hormone disorders, various infections, and many other problems.
If you’re experiencing night sweats regularly, you should immediately contact your doctor. In the meantime, follow my advice and try to reduce stress, get a comfortable mattress together with additional cooling accessories, try eating healthier and begin exercising. And, of course, less alcohol, more water.
I hope my advice was helpful and you will implement some of my tips right away.
Scientific References Contributed by Tsao-Lin E. Moy, Licensed Acupuncturist & Certified Chinese Herbalist
1. Onen SH, Onen F, Bailly D: 'Prevention and treatment of sleep disorders through regulation of sleeping habits.'
2. Eva V. Osilla, Sandeep Sharma: 'Physiology, Temperature Regulation'
3. Sanjay Kalra, Jagat Jyoti Mukherjee, Subramanium Venkataraman: 'Hypoglycemia: The neglected complication'
4. Danisa M. Clarrett, Christine Hachem: 'Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)'