6 reasons for night sweats

Woken up with a fine sheen of sweat? This could be why...

You climb into bed after a long day at work and finally drift into a deep sleep, only to wake up a few hours later totally drenched in sweat. It’s not what sweet dreams are made of.

For many people, night sweats are caused by something totally trivial – like the temperature of your bedroom or the fabric of your PJs. But for others, a sweaty night’s rest might be down to your health.


What are night sweats?

The clue’s in the name, really. Night sweats are periods of sweating that can leave bed sheets and PJs damp or drenched. Frustrating, right?


What are the most common reasons for night sweats?

Sweat can be a sticky subject (pardon the pun), but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Here are six reasons you might be sweating while sleeping:

Menopause

For many women, menopause and night sweats go hand in hand. Why? Experts believe that a change in hormone levels can affect the body’s temperature control, which often leads to hot flushes and night sweats.

If you're going through menopause, you may also experience reduced sex drive, headaches, palpitations and more.

Flu

Tissues at the ready! The flu (referred to as the influenza virus in the medical world) causes an infection of the body's breathing system. This infection affects the nose and throat, and sometimes the ears, sinuses and lungs.

As well as getting night sweats and a sudden fever, people with the flu are likely to have a runny or congested nose, a cough, sore throat, muscle aches, diarrhoea, vomiting or headaches.

Anxiety

Bed doubling as a swimming pool? It could be down to anxiety. Feelings of extreme worry and fear can trigger a whole host of symptoms.

As well as causing you to sweat a lot, anxiety can cause an irregular heartbeat, muscle aches, insomnia and more.

Medications

Certain medicines, including some antidepressants, steroids and painkillers, can sometimes cause night sweats. Speak to your GP if you think your medicine is causing you to sweat at night. Don’t stop taking your medication without talking to your GP about it first.

Low blood sugar

For many people, sweating (including night sweats) is caused by low blood sugar (that’s hypoglycaemia if we’re being technical). This can occur in people with diabetes, especially those taking insulin.

If you’ve got low blood sugar, you may also have symptoms such as dizziness, feeling tired, feeling hungry and a fast or pounding heart.

Hyperhidrosis

This is a condition that makes you sweat a lot. It can affect your entire body, or it may only affect certain areas, such as your armpits, palms, soles of your feet or groin.

Your local pharmacist can help with over-the-counter antiperspirants and foot powders, but if these don’t work your GP may prescribe medication.


How do I help stop night sweats?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to stopping night sweats. Speak to your GP if you’re experiencing them regularly – you may not need any treatments but your GP will want to check if you have any other symptoms.

And remember, your body loses a lot of moisture when you sweat a lot, so make sure you keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Chin-chin.