Night sweats are not fun. They can also be a sign of a medical condition including an infection, disease or hormone imbalance. They’re common among those going through perimenopause and menopause and are essentially hot flashes that happen when you sleep. Different from sweating that can occur if you sleep in a hot room or under heavy sheets, night sweats lead to sweating that causes you to sweat through your pyjamas and soak your sheets. If you’re experiencing night sweats, take a look at what causes night sweats, when to be concerned and how to reduce night sweats so you can sleep better.
What Are Night Sweats?
Night sweats are repeated episodes of excessive sweating during sleep. They’re often heavy enough to soak through your clothes or bedding and occur without any physical exertion. They aren’t caused by a heavy blanket or warm bedroom, but rather underlying conditions that can range from hormones to medication, stress and even certain food and drinks. Night sweats are uncomfortable and can reduce your quality of sleep. They usually wake you up in the middle of the night and you may even need to change your sheets or clothing.
What Causes Night Sweats?
Menopause and Perimenopause
Night sweats are common in women who are going through menopause and perimenopause (menopause transition). During perimenopause, you produce lower levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and your periods can become irregular. The low or changing levels of estrogen are the cause of night sweats.
Certain medications can cause night sweats. These include antidepressants, hormone therapy, medications for diabetes to lower blood sugar, and even pain relief medications like aspirin and acetaminophen.
Infections and Diseases
Bacterial infections like endocarditis (inflammation of the heart valves), osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bones) and pyogenic abscess (pus in the liver) may result in night sweats. Hormonal diseases can also be the cause. These include overactive thyroid, diabetes and endocrine tumours.
Stress and Anxiety
Stress, panic disorders and anxiety can result in night sweats. Anxiety can rear its head at night, when you have time to think about things when you’re laying in bed. It’s also common for someone experiencing anxiety to worry about not sleeping. Anxiety causes several physical responses that contribute to sweating at night.
When To Worry About Night Sweats
Having occasional night sweats is typically nothing to worry about, but you should talk to your doctor if you often experience night sweats or if you have other symptoms along with them. These symptoms may include a high fever, cough, chills, body aches and pain, diarrhea or stomach pain, general weakness or fatigue, lack of appetite or unexplained weight loss.
7 Tips and Remedies to Reduce Night Sweats
1. Avoid Common Triggers
There are certain things that are known to trigger hot flashes and night sweats including smoking and inhaling second hand smoke, wearing tight, restrictive clothing, drinking alcohol and caffeine, eating spicy foods, and experiencing excess stress. Avoid these things as much as possible, especially if you’ve found certain ones to be especially triggering for you.
2. Find Relief
Although night sweats aren’t a direct result of your environment, your physical environment can affect how hot you become during sleep and a cooler environment can reduce the extent of your night sweats as well as improving your quality of sleep. Make sure to sleep with the temperature turned down in your bedroom, turn on a fan, remove sheets and blankets, sleep in light, cotton pyjamas or wear layers you can take off, and slow and deepen your breathing to help your body relax.
3. Drink Cold Water
Drinking a small amount of cold water before bed and if you wake up hot during the night has been found to be helpful for some people with night sweats. It can help you achieve a more pleasant temperature throughout the night.
4. Wear Breathable Clothing
Tight-fitting clothing traps heat and heavy fabrics can lead to overheating during the night. It’s best to wear loose-fitting, breathable fabrics like cotton that are light and airy. Opt for short tops and bottoms or wear layers so you can make adjustments to maintain a comfortable temperature.
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Weight gain and obesity can make you feel hot and lead to sweating during the night. Fat insulates the body, raising its core temperature. A higher body temperature means your body needs to sweat more to cool down. Maintain a healthy weight by exercising for the recommended 150 minutes per week with two days of strength training. Limit portion sizes to control your calorie intake, drink lots of water and eat a healthy diet low in fat and sugar.
6. Relax Before Bed
If you think it’s stress or anxiety causing your night sweats, it’s important to reduce your stress and relax, especially before bed. Try to avoid activities that expose you to bright lights or stimulate your mind too close to going to bed. Engage in a calming routine that includes things like reading a book, taking a bath, stretching, doing a relaxing yoga session or practicing meditation. Try to do these things in a darkened room if possible. Try journaling about your thoughts and if you have trouble falling asleep, get up and walk around instead of laying in bed and trying to sleep.
7. Exercise Early in the Day
Having a regular exercise routine is super important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, exercising too close to bedtime can spike your body temperature and make night sweats worse. Exercise can improve the thermoregulatory control system by decreasing core body temperature and has been proven to improve menopausal symptoms. Stick to working out in the morning or early afternoon and not too close to bedtime. This ensures you stay healthy and regulates your body but doesn’t affect your sleep cycle or increase your likelihood for night sweats.
If you experience night sweats, try these tips and remedies to get to the bottom of what’s causing them and get a good night’s rest.
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