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Night Sweats: 4 Common Culprits and Solutions for Quality Sleep
Excessive sweating at night isn't only uncomfortable, it can also disturb your sleep. Here's what to know about night sweats and helpful tips on how to manage symptoms.
Taylor LeameySenior Writer
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness, specializing in mental health, sleep and nutrition coverage. She has invested hundreds of hours into studying and researching sleep and holds a Certified Sleep Science Coach certification from the Spencer Institute. Not to mention the years she spent studying mental health fundamentals while earning her bachelor's degrees in both Psychology and Sociology. She is also a Certified Stress Management Coach.
ExpertiseBachelor of Science, Psychology and SociologyCredentials
Sweating is how our body regulates temperature. It doesn't just happen while we're awake; our bodies are still trying to maintain our body temperature at night. Most of the time, you don't even notice it happens. For some people, they can sweat so much that their clothing and sheets are soaked through. This occurrence is known as night sweats, and can sometimes be linked to an underlying disease.
For some people, night sweats happen frequently -- and not just because they're a hot sleeper or have too many blankets on their bed. Night sweating often points to something bigger that's impacting your sleep. Let's review the common causes and what you can do about it.
Besides using too heavy of a blanket or having your temperature cranked up a little too high, there are several reasons why you may wake up with significant sweating.
During significant hormonal changes in the body, like menopause or pregnancy, night sweats are more likely to occur. Heat flashes are a staple in perimenopause and menopause, with more than 80% of women reporting regular hot flashes. Low testosterone and hyperthyroidism have also been linked to excessive sweating.
To see if your night sweats are related to your routine, it's best to eliminate them consistently and note if your sweating decreases. Small changes in your routine could significantly impact your comfort at night.
Anxiety and stress
If you've been under increased stress or feeling particularly anxious, you may experience night sweats.
Unfortunately, anxiety doesn't just plague us when we're awake. Night sweats are a known symptom of anxiety disorders. Anxiety and sleeping can become a vicious cycle if not addressed. Your anxiety can keep you up at night, but if you don't get enough sleep, then your anxiety symptoms can get worse.
Night sweats can be related to something you ate, the stress you're under or regular life changes, like menopause. Other times, there's no obvious source of your night sweats, which suggests something like an underlying medical condition may be causing it. According to the American Family Physician Journal, serious disorders can cause night sweats, but it's not the norm.
Night sweats are uncomfortable and can disturb the quality of sleep you can get. Thankfully, you can change your sleeping environment to ease symptoms at home.
Invest in cooling bedding
When it comes to night sweats, what you sleep on can make your symptoms better or worse. No matter the cause of your night sweats, investing in cooling bedding can make you more comfortable at night. There are cooling products at every level of bedding materials -- from mattresses to sheets to cooling pillows.
Cooling products will have additional materials to help deliver cooling. Many mattresses have foam layers infused with gel, graphite and copper or have phase-changing covers. Or their construction makes them naturally more breathable. This is the case for latex foam beds with perforations allowing more airflow. It doesn't actively cool you, but it can help ensure you don't get hotter because of your bed. Other options will be cool to the touch, like GhostBed or Brooklyn Bedding Aurora.
Wear the right things to bed
If you wake up in sweat-soaked clothes, you may be inclined to skip clothes entirely. However, sleeping naked can work against you regarding temperature. When it comes to sweat, clothes help wick the sweat away from the body and allow you to cool down. Without them, the sweat collects on the skin and seeps into the mattress. You'll be better off wearing light, loose-fitting pajamas to bed than sleeping naked.
Change your environment
If you sweat at night, it's worth changing your sleeping environment to accommodate it. For example, change your bedding from heavy materials to lightweight, breathable options.
Sleep experts suggest that 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius) is the ideal temperature for sleeping. Set your thermostat close to that, or add a window unit or fan to your bedroom. Other helpful cooling tips involve freezing your pillowcase or placing a bowl of ice behind the fan that's blowing air on you.
When should you see a doctor about night sweats?
Night sweats that happen occasionally due to something like eating spicy food aren't something you need to worry about. It's when it starts to impact your ability to sleep or has no apparent cause that you should speak with your doctor. They can help you determine if your night sweats are related to an underlying condition or the medication you're taking or help you manage a hormonal imbalance.
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.