Recently updated on March 9th, 2023 at 10:25 am
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Everyone loves a good night’s sleep in any season, and there’s nothing grosser than waking up soaked in sweat with clothes sticking to the body. The body sweats more when we sleep as a means to keep the body temperature balanced, but sometimes excessive sweating happens not because of temperature but because of internal reasons. This is called night sweat and is a common condition among a large number of people.
What Are Night Sweats?
It is normal to sweat more than usual in certain seasons. In summer, people experience excessive sweating when they are sleeping, and it’s nothing extraordinary or unusual. However, night sweats are different from normal sweating because they are not influenced by external factors. Someone suffering from night sweats will perspire excessively even when trying to sleep in sub-zero temperatures.
Also called hyperhidrosis, night sweats can happen in any season and aren’t influenced by environmental overheating. If you experience excessive sweating in the summertime or when you’re in a warm environment, it may or may not be hyperhidrosis. However, if you get drenched in sweat in winter or in cooler temps, it is definitely a case of hyperhidrosis.
Even though night sweats is a common condition affecting a large number of people, there are fairly easy things you can do to stop or prevent them. However, before ascertaining a remedy, you have to know the causes behind hyperhidrosis.
What Causes Night Sweats?
The factors responsible for night sweats are dependent on whether the type of hyperhidrosis, i.e., environmental or medical. You know you have hyperhidrosis if the sweating drenches your sheets and clothes, interferes with your sleep, and is not because of environmental factors like summertime or a hot bedroom.
The last factor is most important because it helps you determine if the condition is environmental and can be easily remedied, or is due to a medical condition that requires treatment. For instance, night sweats and hot flushes associated with menopause are true hyperhidrosis, while excessive sweating because of restrictive or thick clothing can be easily fixed by wearing lighter clothing to bed. Once you know what is causing the night sweats, it becomes much easier to find a solution.
When it comes to environmental reasons, only warm temperatures or uncomfortable clothing or bedding can cause excessive sweating. But when it comes to medical reasons, there can a million conditions causing hyperhidrosis. The latter is true night sweats while the former is just sweating too much because it’s hot.
There are three factors that influence night sweats that are not because of an underlying medical condition. These are as follows:
Warm or Uncomfortable Clothing or Bedding
If you wear thick or uncomfortable clothing to bed in summer or sleep with several layers of bedding, it shouldn’t be a surprise if you wake up sweating. Excessive sweating at night is primarily caused because of uncomfortable bedding that gets too warm or restrictive clothing that doesn’t allow air circulation. That is the reason why sleep experts recommend sleeping either naked or in light, loose, comfortable clothing that allows the air to circulate and keep you cool. This is truer during hot summers.
Your sheets should be made of cotton or linen, which are not only best for the skin but also help keep you cool on hot nights. Ditch the silk or satin sheets during summer, and stick to skin-friendly, breathable materials for a bed. This helps in thermoregulation, the process of your body maintaining a consistent temperature.
Warm Bedroom Temperature
Summer is the time when the indoor temperature rises too quickly. If your bedroom temperature is too high when you go to bed, it can interfere with your sleep and cause you to sweat excessively. The feeling of sweat drenching your clothes and the sheets is icky and will most certainly wake you up in the middle of the night. Use the thermostat or the air conditioner to set the room temperature between 60 and 70 degrees.
When you’re down with a cold or a fever, your immune system works to help in the recovery process. This involves raising the core body temperature, which causes excessive sweating when you sleep. In all three of these cases, the sweating can be easily stopped without much effort.
There is more than one medical reason that can cause hyperhidrosis. In women, menopause and hormonal changes are famous for causing hot flashes and night sweats. Hyperhidrosis is also common during pregnancy, or when there is a hormonal condition like hyperthyroidism. Treating the condition usually gets rid of the night sweats to some extent if not completely.
Another common factor behind hyperhidrosis is obesity. Overweight people tend to sweat excessively, and that’s true even when they are trying to sleep. This is because excess weight makes it hard for the body to thermoregulate, causing night sweats. Losing weight is usually the solution to weight-related hyperhidrosis.
Sleep apnea is also responsible for causing night sweats. It is one of the most common sleep disorders, in which breathing momentarily stops and then restarts, causing snoring, choking or gasping. This happens because the tissues at the back of the throat relax more than they should and block the upper airway. Since there is no permanent cure for sleep apnea, the recommended treatment option is CPAP or BIPAP therapy, where the individual is required to wear a mask connected to an air machine when they sleep. The key to relief is to stick to this treatment. Individuals who find it uncomfortable to wear the mask do not stick to the treatment, and are also at greater risk of night sweats.
Other medical conditions that cause night sweats are GERD, anxiety, as well as the reaction to certain medications. It has nothing to do with environmental overheating.
Treating Night Sweats
The easiest way to deal with night sweats is to stay cool when you sleep. If lowering your bedroom temperature isn’t much effective, you can invest in a cooling mattress or buy a temperature regulator for your bed. Managing your medical conditions can also go a long way in keeping night sweats under control.