What Causes Night Sweating? Plus How to Manage Night Sweats

November 11, 2020 3 min read

what causes night sweating

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night, with a jolt, to find your clothes and sheets soaked in sweat? The first time it happens can be alarming not to mention incredibly uncomfortable and disruptive. If you are lucky it was an isolated event. Unfortunately, night sweats can become repetitive, depending on the reason they are happening. Keep reading as we explore what causes night sweating, when to speak to your doctor about it, and how to manage it.

What are Night Sweats?

Night sweats are bouts of excessive sweating. They can be so severe that they soak your sleepwear and sheets, and often wake you up in the middle of the night. In general, occasional nighttime sweating can occur when sleeping under too many blankets or in a room that is too warm. This is your body’s reaction to adjusting its internal temperature.

However, frequent episodes of intense night sweats can be an indication of an underlying medical condition or a side effect of certain medications. Night sweats may also be accompanied by other changes in your health changes.

What Causes Night Sweats?

It is important to know what causes night sweating. There are numerous reasons why you may experience night sweats. Thankfully, not all of them are caused by an underlying medical condition.

Common causes of situational or infrequent night sweats include:
  • Drinking alcohol before bedtime.
  • Experiencing high levels of stress (or anxiety).
  • Overheating during sleep due to sleepwear, bedding, or room temperature.
  • A side effect from certain medications used to treat depression, diabetes, and/or hormone imbalances. Additionally, over-the-counter medications like aspirin or acetaminophen may lead to sweating.

However, some of the likely causes of night sweat are due to underlying medical conditions. These more serious medical conditions include:

  • Certain types of cancer, like lymphoma, prostate cancer or leukemia, or undiagnosed cancer (usually accompanied by unexplained weight loss)
  • Hormonal issues, like menopause, low testosterone, or hyperthyroidism
  • Hypoglycemia or diabetes
  • Neurological disorders, like stroke
  • Obesity
  • Secondary hyperhidrosis (diaphoresis) or excessive sweating
  • Serious infections, like tuberculosis, endocarditis, or HIV
  • Sleep apnea

Frequent episodes of intense night sweats can be an indication of an underlying medical condition.

When to Speak with a Doctor

Since not all night sweating causes are due to a medical issue, you may wonder when you should talk to your doctor.

If you experience occasional night sweats and you don’t have any other disconcerting symptoms, there are ways to manage your nighttime sweating before talking to your doctor. (See our tips below to manage night sweats, most of which involve simple lifestyle changes.)

Conversely, you should talk to your doctor if you experience night sweats frequently and/or they routinely disrupt your sleep and/or waking life. It is also important to speak to your doctor if you are experiencing other health changes in addition to the nighttime sweating.

How to Manage Night Sweats

There are several things you can easily do on your own to relieve nighttime sweating. Our list of suggested tips to help manage night sweats include changes to your routine, lifestyle, and/or diet.

  • Increase air circulation in your bedroom by opening a window or using a fan while sleeping.
  • Ensure your bedding is made from breathable or moisture-wicking fabrics and is lightweight.
  • Place a cold pack under your pillow to keep you cool.
  • Wear lightweight pajamas (or nighttime clothing) made from breathable or moisture-wicking fabrics.
  • Place a cool washcloth or cooling cloth on your face before bedtime or during the night as needed.
  • Keep a water glass or bottle by your bed to keep hydrated throughout the night.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages, and eating spicy foods right before bedtime.

In addition to these tips, your doctor may also recommend medications or medical treatments to address the source of your night sweats.

Night sweats can interrupt your sleep and impact the quality of your life. Learning what causes night sweating is the first step in learning how to manage it. 

Do you experience excessive sweating during waking hours? Try out Ejis sweat proof undergarments (available from our shop or on Amazon), which are designed protect your clothing from sweat marks and body odor. Our boxer briefs and undershirts have a thin waterproof layer in some of the most common areas affected by sweat. And all of our products, including our dress socks, feature odor-fighting technology made from real silver. 

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.

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