If you wake up sweaty, you might wonder why. If it happens frequently, it may be related to a medical condition that requires evaluation by a doctor. Night sweats can also mean different things to different people, such as children or women going through menopause.
This article looks at some of the causes of night sweats. It also looks at ways to reduce night sweats and when you should see your doctor.
What is sleep sweat?
Less serious causes of sweating while sleeping
Some causes of night sweats can be serious, but many common causes are not. These include:
- sleep environment
- anxiety and nightmares
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- alcohol consumption
One of the most common causes of night sweats is trying to sleep in a warm or hot sleeping environment. If your bedroom is warm, you’re wearing heavy pajamas, or you’re sleeping under a lot of blankets, sweating is normal.
Your body experiences normal temperature changes throughout sleep. Most people’s core body temperature drops in the morning, usually around 4 a.m. During certain stages of sleep, your body temperature may also rise, which may lead to sweating.
What causes older adults to wake up so early
Often, night sweats are simply due to your environment. Try to cool the room or wear lighter pajamas.
anxiety and nightmares
If you have nightmares or general anxiety, you may have panic attacks while sleeping. This can also lead to sweating. Talk to your doctor if you have frequent nightmares, especially if you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Treatment may help stop night sweats and relieve other, more serious symptoms.
Children may also sweat during night terrors. In children, other symptoms of night terrors include:
- tossing and turning
- increased breathing and heartbeat
- acting upset
How Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Affects Sleep
Perimenopause is the “change” before your period ends. People who experience this condition may experience hot flashes, also known as hot flashes, during sleep. Postmenopausal women often say they sleep less well than nonmenopausal women. This may be due to insomnia caused by night sweats and hot flashes.
Night sweats in older women may also be the result of sleep disturbances apnea. This is when you stop breathing multiple times during sleep. There is an increased risk of this happening during menopause due to the loss of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease
Night sweats may be associated with gastroesophagus Reflux disease (GERD), although they are not one of the most common symptoms. When you have GERD, stomach acid backs up into your esophagus. Your night sweats may be related to GERD if you have other symptoms:
- chest pain
- hoarse voice
If your night sweats are caused by GERD, getting treatment can help relieve them.
Night sweats can also be associated with nightmares, hormones, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Some people experience night sweats after drinking alcohol. Alcohol dependence, in particular, may lead to night sweats.
Alcohol is a muscle relaxant. It affects the upper airway, making snoring and sleep apnea worse. Since alcohol consumption may cause sleep-disordered breathing problems such as apnea, it has also been linked to night sweats.
More Serious Causes of Sweating While Sleeping
Sometimes night sweats can indicate a serious condition that requires treatment. These conditions include:
- sleep apnea
- autoimmune disease
- some cancers
When you have sleep apnea, your breathing stops during sleep. This may wake you up or put you into a lighter stage of sleep. This condition makes it difficult for you to breathe, which causes your body to do its own thing, possibly enough to make you sweat. Other symptoms to look out for include:
- feeling sleepy during the day
- inability to concentrate
- dry mouth, sore throat, or headache upon waking
- snoring loudly
- wake up gasping
- Your bed partner reports that you stop breathing regularly and then sneeze and pant
Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition. It increases your odds of falling asleep or having trouble concentrating while driving or working. It also increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Sleep apnea is usually treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. Treatment often helps relieve night sweats and other symptoms.
When a child, especially a toddler, has breathing problems during sleep, it can appear as sweaty and restless sleep. The child may be blushing and sweating from messing up the quilt.
10 Surprising Signs of Sleep Apnea in Children
Some serious infections can cause night sweats, including:
- Bacterial infections
See your doctor if you have other symptoms that indicate an infection, such as:
- body pain
- general weakness
- sore throat or cough
- loss of appetite
- unexpected weight loss
Treating the infection should ease your symptoms, including night sweats.
Infections such as tuberculosis or bacterial infections can also cause you to sweat while you sleep.
When you have an autoimmune disease, your immune system mistakes normal parts of your body for dangerous pathogens. Some of these conditions can cause excessive sweating, including night sweats. These include:
- Graves disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
Fever is a common symptom of autoimmune diseases, and they may cause sweating.
Symptoms vary from one condition to another, but other common autoimmune symptoms include:
- Inflammation of redness and heat
- Muscle pain
- joint pain
- Onset and remission, exacerbation and milder symptoms
Why do you always wake up tired?
Night sweats can be a symptom of an autoimmune disease such as Grave’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis.
Certain types of cancer, especially Hodgkin lymphoma, can cause night sweats. However, people with this type of cancer often have other symptoms. These may include:
- Persistent painless swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin
- Unexplained fever that doesn’t go away
- unexpected weight loss
- Itching all over the body can be severe
- shortness of breath, cough, or chest discomfort
- Pain in lymph nodes after drinking alcohol
If you notice these symptoms, make an appointment with your healthcare provider right away.
How to Treat Hodgkin Lymphoma
Certain cancers can also cause night sweats. People with these cancers often have other symptoms, such as swollen lymph nodes and unexplained weight loss.
Other causes of sweating while sleeping
Other things can trigger night sweats, including:
- Medications: Antidepressants, over-the-counter pain relievers (pain relievers), beta-blockers, Cholinergic Medications, diabetes medications such as insulin, hormone replacement therapy, triptans, Viagra (sildenafil)
- Dietary Supplements: Calcium, Niacin
- Hyperthyroidism: Symptoms include increased appetite, tremors, irritability, goiter (a markedly enlarged thyroid), anxiety, and frequent bowel movements
- Nervous System Disorders: Autonomic Nervousness Reflex disorder, Syringomyelia
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How to stop sweating while sleeping
The solution to night sweats depends on the cause of the problem. If the problem is medical, getting the right diagnosis and treatment should relieve symptoms. Talk to your doctor if you have night sweats as a side effect of the medication. You may need to compare the risks and rewards of drugs.
For other causes of night sweats, you can try:
- keep your bedroom cool
- Moisture-wicking pajamas and bedding
- lighter or not wearing pajamas
- Avoid alcohol or hot drinks before bed
- drink cold water
- not exercising before bed
Hot Flashes Pajamas and Pajamas
Getting relief from night sweats depends on what’s causing them. If environmental changes don’t help, see your doctor.
When to see a healthcare provider
Occasional night sweats are usually nothing to worry about. Talk to your doctor if your night sweats:
- Previous diagnosis cannot explain
- not drug side effects
- frequent and persistent
- disturbed sleep
- affect your daily life
- with other symptoms
To find out the cause of your night sweats, your doctor may order a sleep study or other tests.
Overnight Sleep Study Test: What to Expect
See your doctor if your night sweats are frequent or affect your quality of life.
Night sweats can have a variety of causes. They can be related to something as simple as the temperature of your room or the clothes you wear while you sleep. They can also be associated with conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Sometimes night sweats can indicate a serious medical condition, such as sleep apnea or an autoimmune disorder.
If changing your sleep environment and bedtime activities doesn’t help, see your doctor. Proper diagnosis and treatment may help you find relief.