Sweating in sleep: why it happens and how to treat
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night because of
sweating? Even with air conditioning on, you were still sweating. Night
sweats are the unnatural occurrence of sweating when asleep. Normally,
when an individual is sleeping, their metabolism slows down and the
temperature decreases because you aren’t active but resting, thus night
sweats usually do not occur. This condition is uncomfortable and if a
person wakes up from sleeping because of it, it may be difficult to go
back to sleep.
What causes night sweats? The different causes explained
The reason why medical conditions cause night sweats is still largely
unknown. However it is thought that biological factors that are
released into the bloodstream might influence the region of the brain
that controls the temperature, the hypothalamus. They may work to reduce
the temperature set point.
Acute and chronic infections may cause night sweats. Infections such
as tuberculosis, endocarditis (infection of a heart valve) or
osteomyelitis (bone infection) can cause night sweats.
A low blood sugar level (hypoglycaemia) often caused by diabetes
medications or the diabetes condition itself can cause night sweats.
Some prescription medications e.g. antidepressants and blood pressure
medications can contribute to night sweats. So when you come in for an
assessment with one of our physicians ensure you bring in all your
Hormone imbalances and disorders may also result in night sweats.
Hyperthyroidism is one cause since it increases metabolic activity and
results in increased heat production and sweating. For the same reason
an over functioning pituitary gland can also result in increased
sweating. A pheochromocytoma results in excessive sweating, increased
heart rate and headaches. These conditions can all be investigated
through conducting blood tests.
Rarely cancer, e.g. lymphoma can result in night sweats. If you have
recent weight loss and associated fevers your physician will exclude
this through investigations.
Another rare cause for hyperhidrosis/night sweats is neurological
conditions e.g. stroke or a focal neuropathy. During your assessment
with a doctor they should conduct a neurological assessment to exclude
Those who suffer from psychological disorders like depression and
anxiety may be more susceptible to having night sweats. In addition many
of the medications for depression and anxiety also contribute to the
What causes night sweats in women?
The “hot flushes” that commonly accompany menopause can cause
hyperhidrosis. This occurs because of a change in a woman’s hormones
during menopause and peri-menopause. Other causes of night sweats in
women are variations in hormone levels that occur before their period
commences, with oral contraception pills or during pregnancy.
How can you stop sweating in sleep?
It is important to be clinically assessed by a doctor who can exclude
any of the underlying medical causes outlined above. After clinical
assessment and appropriate investigation treatment might be commenced to
control the night sweats.
At night what you cover yourself with can also make a difference. Use
something that is made from thinner, comfortable material. A cotton
sheet will work well in warm climates. Wear comfortable pyjamas that are
made of cotton and with short sleeves if possible.
Still sweating? Get in touch!
If you have tried using a clinical strength anti-perspirant and are still suffering sweat problems then we can help. Contact us
now to book an appointment for treatment at one of our clinics (or if
you have any questions) using the form on the right-hand side of this