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    What Causes Night Sweats? 8 Reasons to Consider

    Published 20 January 2020
    Fact Checked
    Olga Adereyko, MD
    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant
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    It’s not unusual for you to wake up in the middle of the night feeling sweaty. Maybe your comforter’s too thick, or your A/C is set too low. But extreme night sweats and frequent sweating at night while sleeping could indicate a larger issue. Next, we dive deeper into the multiple causes of night sweats, how to stop night sweats, and when to be concerned about night sweats.

    What is considered excessive sweating?

    First, what are night sweats? Night sweats are repeated episodes of excessive sweating while sleeping. You spontaneously begin to perspire, sometimes soaking right through your pajamas and sheets.

    Sweating is a routine body function designed to dispel excess heat and regulate your body temperature. If your room feels comfortable and you’re not overdoing it with the bedding, then your night sweats may be attributed to illness, hormonal shifts, or medication. 

    What causes night sweats?

    A woman sweating while sleeping

    There are countless explanations for what causes night sweats. Some night sweat causes seem unavoidable, such as those linked to menopause. But if this doesn’t apply to you, then read on for more possible answers to the question, “Why do I sweat when I sleep?”

    1. Menopause

    Menopause is a common cause of night sweats for women. As you get older, your body no longer produces the same amount of hormones it used to. As these levels change and settle into a new pattern, your body experiences various symptoms, cold sweats at night being one of them.

    Estrogen and progesterone undergo the greatest change during menopause. These two hormones, along with others, control your body temperature. Since you’re currently going through hormonal surges, your temperature will also surge ‒ producing night sweats. You might feel very cold one minute and very hot the next. 

    Sweating while sleeping can be a regular occurence when you’re menopausal. Try taking steps to alleviate your symptoms, such as:

    • Keeping a fan by your bed: Have one nearby so you can quickly and easily turn it on in the middle of the night. 
    • Placing the A/C remote on your nightstand: Avoid having to climb out of bed while you’re half asleep just to adjust the thermostat. 
    • Staying hydrated: Excessive perspiration means a lot of water is lost in a short amount of time. If you’re sweating at night, replenish yourself accordingly.
    • Changing your bedding: Choose stay-cool linens, like silk pillowcases and bed sheets. Also note that memory foam mattresses trap body heat, so it’s wise to switch to a regular mattress during menopause. 
    • Talking to your doctor: If sweating at night is really disrupting your sleep routine, a medical professional could suggest certain therapies to offer relief from menopause-related night sweats.

    2. Stress

    One of the biggest night sweat causes is stress. Anxiety, long work hours, and a lack of sleep inevitably lead to stress, which in turn, causes sweating. 

    Your body tends to perspire more when it’s under both physical and mental stress. Immediately after being in a physically stressful situation, you probably feel the need to cool off and relax. When enduring mental stress, your mind remains in this agitated state after you fall asleep, and is likely the reason behind what causes night sweats.

    Try these tips for reducing stress levels:

    • Practice yoga: Allow your body to stretch and realign itself with a daily session of relaxing yoga. 
    • Lighten your workload: Work is important, but so is your well-being. Try to rearrange your schedule so it better suits your needs and offers a bit more breathing room.
    • Get plenty of rest: Sometimes our minds get stuck in a constant state of exhaustion due to lack of sleep. Lock in at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night.
    • Do deep breathing exercises: It thoroughly soothes both your body and mind. Take a few minutes in the morning to breathe deeply and start your day off right.

    3. Hormonal disorders

    Much like menopause, hormonal disorders interfere with your natural hormone patterns and create sweating at night. If certain patterns become disrupted, your body temperature will become erratic. Consult your doctor to see if you might have one of the following conditions:

    • Hyperthyroidism
    • Pheochromocytoma

    They can determine whether this is the reason you’re sweating while sleeping.

    4. Hypoglycemia

    Hypoglycemia, a shortage of glucose in the blood, occurs when your body is unable to control its blood sugar levels. This prevents it from functioning the way it’s supposed to. 

    Low glucose triggers the release of adrenaline, which in excessive amounts, produces a great deal of perspiration. Individuals with hypoglycemia or who take insulin or diabetes medications usually display lower glucose levels, and are prone to sweating at night.

    If you’ve been diagnosed with hypoglycemia and notice frequent night sweats, leave a few glucose tablets or a snack on your nightstand. Once your blood sugar levels return to normal, the sweating should stop.

    5. Certain medications

    Some medications come with side effects, ranging from manageable to extreme. Each individual can respond differently to the same drug. Though it’s intended to relieve specific symptoms and promote healing, it might do so by interfering with