If you’re waking up in a pool of your own sweat, it’s natural to wonder what’s going on.
Night sweats can be caused by a variety of things, from the temperature of your bedroom to medical conditions.
In most cases, night sweats are nothing to worry about.
However, if you’re regularly waking up drenched in sweat, it’s worth talking to your doctor to rule out any underlying causes.
What are night sweats?
Night sweats are excessive sweating that occurs at night.
They can soak your sheets and clothing and make it hard to sleep.
Night sweats are also called sleep hyperhidrosis or nocturnal hyperhidrosis.
In some cases, this can be from mild sweating to sweating so much that you need to change your clothes and bed sheets at night.
Reasons you may be sweating at night
There are many possible causes of night sweats.
1. Stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety can cause sweating.
If you’re feeling particularly stressed or anxious when you go to bed or go back to sleep after waking up, this can trigger night sweats.
When you’re stressed, your sympathetic nervous system is activated.
This part of the nervous system controls your fight-or-flight response, which is your body’s way of preparing to respond to a perceived threat.
The fight-or-flight response includes a number of changes, one of which is an increase in your heart rate.
As your heart rate increases, so does your body temperature.
This can lead to sweating.
Put simply, when you’re stressed, your body is in a state that’s more likely to cause sweating.
So if you’re already feeling dread going to bed, you’re more likely to wake up in a sweat.
The only way to stop this cycle is to find ways to manage your stress and anxiety.
This may involve making lifestyle changes, such as exercising more and eating a healthier diet.
You may also need to seek professional help, such as counseling or therapy.
If you drink alcohol before bed, this can cause you to sweat at night.
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down your nervous system.
This can cause your body to overheat, and you may sweat to cool down.
In addition, alcohol is also a stimulant.
This means it can increase your heart rate.
Both of these effects can lead to night sweats.
If you drink alcohol and want to avoid night sweats, it’s best to limit your intake or cut it out completely.
3. Sleep environment
Your bedroom environment can also affect how much you sweat at night.
If your room is too hot or too cold, this can trigger night sweats.
The ideal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. (1)
If your room is outside of this range, it may be time to adjust your thermostat.
Certain medications can cause sweating at night as a side effect.
- hormone therapy drugs
- acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- diabetes medications
- steroids like prednisone and cortisone
- hypertension medications
If you’re taking medication and experiencing night sweats, talk to your doctor.
You may be able to switch to a different drug that doesn’t cause this side effect.
Hyperhidrosis is a condition that causes excessive sweating.
It can occur at any time, but it’s especially noticeable at night.
Other symptoms of hyperhidrosis include:
- sweating when it’s not hot
- sweating more than necessary to regulate body temperature
- sweating that interferes with daily activities
If you think you may have hyperhidrosis, talk to your doctor.
6. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
GERD is a digestive disorder that occurs when stomach acid or other contents of the stomach flow back up into the esophagus.
This can cause a burning sensation in the chest or throat, known as heartburn.
GERD can also cause night sweats.
According to Healthline, you might experience heartburn and excessive sweating at the same time in the middle of the night. (2)
If you have GERD and night sweats, you might also experience other symptoms, such as:
- waking up from sleep with a sour taste in your mouth
- waking up from sleep with a hoarse voice
- chest pain
- a dry cough
- trouble swallowing
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor. GERD can be treated with lifestyle changes, such as avoiding trigger foods and eating smaller meals.
Medications, such as antacids and proton pump inhibitors, can also be used to treat GERD.
A fever is a sign that your body is fighting off an infection.
During a fever, your body temperature rises above its normal range.
Fever can cause night sweats.
If you have a fever and night sweats, you might also experience other symptoms, such as:
- body aches
- loss of appetite
If you have a fever, you should see a doctor.
They will likely prescribe medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help reduce your fever.
They will also likely recommend rest and plenty of fluids.
Menopause is the process that occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs.
It usually occurs around age 51.
During menopause, a woman’s hormone levels change.
These changes can cause hot flashes and night sweats.
Other symptoms of menopause include:
- mood swings
- sleep problems
- weight gain
- vaginal dryness
There is no cure for menopause, but there are treatments that can help ease the symptoms.
Hormone therapy is one such treatment.
This involves taking estrogen and progesterone to help balance hormone levels.
There are also non-hormonal treatments, such as antidepressants and blood pressure medications.
Other lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise, can also help ease menopause symptoms.
9. Substance use disorders
Another reason you might be sweating at night is if you have a substance use disorder.
Substance abuse can lead to an increase in body temperature, which can cause night sweats.
If you have a substance abuse problem and night sweats, you might also experience other symptoms, such as:
- trouble sleeping
If you think you might have a substance abuse problem, you should see a doctor.
They can help you find treatment options, such as therapy and support groups.
10. Other medical conditions
There are a number of other medical conditions that can cause sweating at night.
- low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- obstructive sleep apnea
- heart disease
- spinal cord tumor
When to see a doctor
Most night sweats are not caused for concern.
However, you should see a doctor if you experience any of the following:
- soaking night sweats that are accompanied by a fever
- episodes of night sweating that wake you up and are not related to a hot environment
- unexplained weight loss
- shortness of breath
- a cough that won’t go away
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor.