Everyone needs a quality night’s sleep. If you find yourself waking up to excessive sweat that you didn’t expect, then you might be experiencing night sweats. And is that normal?
To break down commonly asked questions around night sweating, LifeSavvy spoke with Dr. Abhinav Singh, Medical Director at the Indiana Sleep Center and co-author of Sleep to Heal: 7 Simple Steps to Better Sleep, as well as Nilong Vyas, MD, board-certified pediatric sleep coach, founder of family sleep consulting service Sleepless in NOLA, and medical reviewer for Sleep Foundation.
If you’ve been experiencing night sweats and want to know whether or not you should be worried, here’s what to know.
What Are Night Sweats?
Night sweats are, well, sweating at night. That’s probably not that shocking to you. But there is a bit of nuance. A small amount of sweating wouldn’t really fall into the night sweat category. Instead, it’s a more significant occurrence.
Singh told LifeSavvy that night sweats are episodes of sweating that occur during sleep are significant enough to wake you up and disrupt your sleep cycle. Simply put, if you’re tossing and turning in the middle of the night and waking up to find your body sweaty and your sheets damp, you could be experiencing night sweats.
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Cooling bedding could help.
What Causes Night Sweats?
According to our experts, there are several factors that can cause night sweats. Singh and Vyas gave a few examples of what could be causing night sweats.
Some of the simplest causes are the temperature of your room and warm clothing. But if you’ve already ditched those things and switched to cooling bedding and thin, lightweight pajamas, the reasons could be a bit more difficult to remedy.
For some, menopause could be to blame. Vyas explained that night sweats and hot flashes in women are “secondary to changes occurring in the hypothalamus, and pituitary glands in the brain that regulate temperature in direct response to declining levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen.”
In other words, night sweats can occur as a result of shifts in your brain chemistry in response to your hormones.
Outside of menopause, though, infections, fungal conditions, medications such as hormone therapy and anti-depressants, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and night terrors, anxiety, stress, or low blood sugar could all be causes of night sweats.
Less common causes of night sweats include serious heart infections such as endocarditis (inflammation of the inner lining of the heart), or cancer such as lymphoma (a cancer caused by the lymphatic system).
Ultimately, the best way to discern what is causing your night sweats is to consult with your physician.
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Snag a bedroom fan to cool off.
Can You Stop Night Sweats?
You might be wondering if night sweats are something that you can stop on your own. Singh emphasized the importance of nailing down the root cause of night sweats before deciding how to put a stop to it.
There are, of course, simple changes you can make in case the cause is simply environmental. Opt for cooling bedding and lightweight pajamas. Sheets made of bamboo are good options for hot sleepers, and as for sleepwear, opt for silk or satin for its cool feel.
Once you’ve got your bedding and pajamas down, try lower the temperature of your room and introducing a fan. Typically, 64-68 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for sleep, and the white noise of an oscillating fan can be beneficial for its cooling ability and its sound.
If, however, after trying these easy fixes, you are continuing to sweat, the experts recommended checking in with a doctor.
Cooling Bed Pillows
You can even get cooling pillows.
So, Are Night Sweats Normal?
While night sweats can be normal if they aren’t common and don’t disturb sleep, if they become disruptive to your rest or you find yourself waking in damp bedding, you might want to contact your doctor. The causes can be difficult to discern on your own making fixing your night sweats difficult solo.
If you’ve been struggling, now might be the time to get in contact with your doctor.