Do you wake up feeling like you’ve been swimming laps in your pajamas? If so, you’re not alone: studies show that around 10% of us suffer from excessive perspiration while sleeping.
Fortunately, there are some techniques you can use to protect yourself (and your bedding) from night sweats.
Read on to find out why you’re breaking a sweat in your sleep (and what to do to put a stop to it).
6 Reasons You’re Waking up Sweaty
If you’re sweating at night, it’s likely happening because your body’s natural temperature regulation system is disrupted, which can happen for a variety of reasons. The most common causes are:
1. Your Clothes or Environment Are Too Warm
Those thick flannel pajamas and fuzzy socks are cozy while you’re chilling on the couch in the evening, but they’re likely to raise your body temperature beyond its optimal level if you wear them to bed.
Similarly, having the house nice and toasty is great for cuddling up and watching a movie, but not so great for sleep. Since body temperature drops while we slumber, most people sleep best in a room that’s between 65-68°F.
2. You Exercise Too Close to Bedtime
When you exercise, your body’s temperature rises. If you’re pumping iron too close to bedtime, your body may not have enough time to thermoregulate (meaning, cool itself down). This can cause perspiration at night as your body tries to cool off.
3. You Have Nightmares
If you’re prone to nightmares, you’re much more likely to wake up sweaty: the stress or fear that you experience in your dreams can translate to perspiration in real life.
To help with this, try addressing the underlying cause of your nightmares. Are you going through a stressful time in your life? If so, you may benefit from seeing a therapist, meditating and/or implementing a healthy exercise routine.
4. You’re Going Through Hormonal Changes
A common symptom of menopause is night sweats. This is due to shifting menopausal hormones, which raise adrenaline and body temperature.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, women who are pregnant can also experience night sweats due to the hormonal fluctuations associated with pregnancy.
If you’re a woman who’s pregnant or going through menopause, you should pay extra special attention to your bedroom environment and temperature to help with any potential night sweats.
5. You’re Eating or Drinking the Wrong Things Before Bed
Alcohol can disrupt many of your body’s natural regulation cycles, and temperature is one of them.
Drinking can increase your heart rate and dilate your blood vessels, which triggers sweating. If you drink alcohol too close to bedtime, the sweating will likely occur while you’re sleeping.
For similar reasons, eating spicy foods before bed can lead to night sweats as well. (This also is related to disrupting your body’s temperature regulation cycles.)
6. You Have a Medical Condition
Nighttime sweating can be due to a medical issue such as untreated sleep apnea, infections, hypoglycemia, cancer or obesity.
Some medications, such as antidepressants, psychotropic drugs and chemotherapy, can cause nighttime sweating as a side effect.
How to Reduce Nighttime Sweating
First and foremost, lower your thermostat. If you don’t have air conditioning, invest in a good-quality fan that you can keep near your bed — the white noise will also help drown out minor intrusive sounds.
Next, try sleeping in very light clothing that’s breathable and airy. Don’t pile up the cozy blankets on your bed; just keep it simple and light.
Optimize your schedule for dry nights by exercising in the morning or afternoon instead of at night. Although exercise at any time is great for your health, if you’re a late-night exerciser who experiences night sweats, there’s a reasonable chance that the two are linked.
In a similar vein, keep an eye on what you eat and drink before you go to sleep. Alcoholic beverages close to bedtime can interfere with your sleep and cause you to wake up sweating. Same goes for your favorite spicy foods: eat them at least a few hours before bed for best results.
Finally, stress reduction can play a big role in reducing nighttime sweats and improving your overall health. You can reduce stress by journaling, meditating, talking to a therapist or loved one and/or spending time in nature.
If your night sweats are a side effect of medication, talk to your doctor about trying an alternative.
And if you’re experiencing hormonal changes through pregnancy or menopause, or have one of the health conditions above, talk to your doctor about what else you can do to help reduce nighttime sweating.
Have you successfully overcome night sweats? Did we miss any of your favorite tips? Let us know in the comments.
(1) “Four Common Causes of Night Sweats." National Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/four-common-causes-night-sweats. Accessed 31 Dec. 2019.
(2) “Night Sweats: Should You Be Concerned?" Healthline, www.healthline.com/health/when-to-be-concerned-about-night-sweats. Accessed 1 Nov. 2019.
(3) Viera, Anthony et al. “Diagnosing Night Sweats.” American Family Physician, 1 Mar. 2003, www.aafp.org/afp/2003/0301/p1019.html
Do you wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat?
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