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The Truth About Night Sweats

Posted by Janet Vanderveen on

When it’s hot outside, it’s often difficult to sleep comfortably. Waking up soaked with perspiration is not uncommon, as sweating is the body’s natural cooling system that prevents us from overheating. If you are suffering from true night sweats however, extreme perspiration can leave you with soaked sheets and damp pajamas on a regular basis. 

Nocturnal hyperhidrosis, or night sweats are usually not serious but there are some conditions that should be treated by a doctor. Determining the cause of night sweats is necessary to find the proper treatment. Sweating at night can be caused by a variety of things.

What Causes Night Sweats?

As a rule, night sweats are considered to be mild when sleep is not disturbed and there is minimal discomfort. During the night, there is no need to change clothes or bedding. When the condition is severe, sleep is disturbed and perspiration is so extreme that it is necessary to change clothing and bedding.

When you experience excessive sweating it causes dehydration which can affect your overall health. Chronic dehydration reduces the amount of essential amino acids needed by your body which in turn affects the production of melatonin. Melatonin is linked to a normal sleeping and waking schedule and if your melatonin levels are low, it becomes difficult to fall asleep and/or stay asleep. A vicious cycle starts in which one problem affects another.

 

There are medical conditions such as infections, stroke, idiopathic hyperhidrosis (sweating too much)  acid reflux and hyperglycemia (low blood sugar) that can be linked to night sweats. Conditions such as menopause, anxiety and certain medications can also contribute to the problem. If you are experiencing extreme sweating at night, it is important to seek medical attention and get a diagnosis so a doctor can determine if there are any underlying issues that should be treated.

Research has established that people who suffer from night sweats can have sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. Nocturnal sweating can lead to disruptive sleep which can exacerbate the problem of sleep apnea.

>>> To determine if sleep apnea is the problem, take our sleep quiz<<< 

Treatment

Treatment for night sweats depends on the underlying cause and consists of both prevention and management. Adjusting medication and correcting hormone imbalances are examples of how the problem may be treated medically.

If there is no direct determined cause for excessive sweating at night, these are a few ideas that might help: 

  • Sleep in a cool place with light, breathable sheets and pajamas. The National Sleep Foundation recommends setting the temperature between 15 - 22 degrees Celsius.
  • Avoid using heavy blankets or comforters
  • Try to avoid eating 2-3 hours before bedtime and don’t drink alcohol or drinks with caffeine
  • Use a fan or air conditioner or keep your window open to let in a cool breeze
  • Drink plenty of water during the day and get regular exercise
  • Take time to relax and unwind before bedtime with simple relaxation techniques or meditation

People with untreated sleep apnea have night sweats three times more often than the general population. Research has shown that CPAP can yield good results in dealing with night sweats and the chance for becoming dehydrated at night is reduced. 

If you would like more information about sleep apnea check it out here.

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