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Night sweats: Why they happen and how to stop sweating at night

Do you wake up sweating at night? Use these tips for better sleep (and dry sheets).

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Waking up sweaty is not fun, to say the very least.

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A good night's sleep can completely alter your mood, energy and productivity for the better. Consistent good nights' sleep can change your life. It's real tough to get good sleep when you wake up drenched in sweat, however. 

Anyone who's experienced night sweats knows the scenario: Fall asleep. Wake up sweating three hours later. Sigh and think, "Not again." Begrudgingly get out of bed, peel off your damp pajamas and put a clean set of sheets on your bed. 

If you're lucky, it'll only happen once on any given night. Not only is it annoying, it can also rob you of good sleep, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Read more: Why am I so tired? 5 common reasons for poor sleep

Why do I sweat in my sleep? 

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For people who sleep warm, sleeping on top of the covers is a nightly occurrence.

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The easy answer would be that your AC isn't set low enough, but people who sweat in their sleep no matter what the temperature is (hi, hello) know it's not that simple. 

When you feel like you've tried everything -- from frigid AC temps and fans on full blast to "cooling sheets" and sleeping in the nude -- but nothing has worked, you may want to give up and accept daily sheet-changing as your destiny. 

Not so fast: The first step to solving any health-related condition is understanding the cause. From there, you can work with a health professional or try home remedies to eliminate the symptom. 

Night sweats can come about for a ton of reasons, really. Here are some of the most common: 

Your bed

Your sleep setup might honestly be the problem. Your sheets, mattress pad, pillows and mattress itself may be causing you to sweat at night. Look into cooling or temperature-regulating sheets -- best-case scenario is you solve your night sweats; worst-case scenario is you get some nice new sheets.

Hormonal changes

When your hormone levels fluctuate wildly or are just going through a period of change, you might sweat at night. A common example? Women going through menopause. One of the unpleasant symptoms of menopause is night sweats, and it's largely due to the decreasing levels of estrogen in a woman's body. Pregnancy and menstrual cycles may also influence your body's core temperature at night. For men, low testosterone might contribute.

Medications

Some prescription medications may cause you to sweat at night. If you're on any prescriptions, ask your doctor if night sweats are a side effect.

Medical conditions

Likewise, many medical conditions can cause night sweats. According to Mayo Clinic, that includes hyperthyroidism, anxiety disorders, autoimmune disorders, sleep apnea, drug addictions, neurological conditions and more. Viral infections can also cause night sweats due to a fever.

Hyperhidrosis

Since we're talking about sweat, hyperhidrosis -- excessive sweating -- deserves a special call-out. If you tend to excessively sweat during the day and at night, you may consider talking to your doctor about this condition and whether or not you could have it.

Stress 

High levels of stress can manifest as physical symptoms, including night sweats. Stress-induced night sweats may be accompanied by scary or stressful dreams, rapid breathing, elevated heart rate and trouble falling asleep because of worries or anxiety.

Alcohol and diet

Drinking alcohol before bed can cause you to sweat at night, because alcohol affects your nervous system functioning and your core body temperature. While there's little evidence to suggest that food alone can cause night sweats, it's thought that certain types of food, especially spicy and high-fat foods, can make preexisting night sweats worse.

Read more: 7 reasons you can't sleep through the night and how to fix them

How to stop sweating during your sleep

Tara Youngblood, a sleep expert and founder of Chili Technology (appropriately, a manufacturer of temperature-controlled bed accessories), says that ending night sweats for good is about attacking the root cause. Here, she offers tips for five of the most common causes of night sweats. 

Take a second look at your mattress

"Your body is an engine," Youngblood says. "It is constantly giving off heat while you sleep, [and] there are some materials that actually increase your body temperature while you sleep." She points to foam as a common culprit, noting that some foam mattresses can reflect heat back to you, causing you to sweat more. 

Read more: How to tell if your mattress and pillows are ruining your sleep

Consider your blankets and comforters too

"Make sure your covers aren't working against you," Youngblood says. "Your blankets could be restricting you from cooling off by blocking out the cool air your fan or AC is bringing."

When you sleep under covers, you create a "cave" for your body to sleep in, Youngblood says, and it's important to make sure that your cave stays cold with cooling blankets or airy materials. 

Shift the temperature in your room 

Make sure you are lowering the temperature in your room before bed. This activates your body to naturally cool down. If your room stays the same temperature all day, your body will become acquainted to the temperature and not lower in your sleep. If you're unable to lower the temperature of your room, take a cool or cold shower.

Refrain from alcohol or heavy meals before bed 

Alcohol and dense food before bed can crank up the heat at night, too, Youngblood says. Try to avoid both a few hours before bed to encourage your core body temperature to lower, which will reduce sweating during sleep.

Read more: Buying a new mattress: 7 questions to ask before you shop

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.