10 Things Your Body Is Trying To Tell You If You Sweat In Your Sleep
A good night's rest can become unpleasant pretty quickly if you don't feel like you're able to regulate your temperature. Sweating in your sleep, however, is not necessarily the sign of a medical problem. Still, your body could be signaling you to make some changes — so it's important to pay attention.
While people you know may not be talking about it, night sweats are not at all uncommon. "Sweating in your sleep is actually common in men, women and children," Janette Nesheiwat, M.D, board certified in family and emergency medicine, tells Bustle. Night sweating is not, therefore, necessarily a red flag.
"While sweating in your sleep, or night sweating, can be a sign of an underlying medical problem, that's not necessarily always the case," board certified anesthesiologist Dr. Brian Kerr, tells Bustle. "Night sweating can be caused by external factors like your mattress (does it hold heat), too much clothing at night, or the person you may be sharing your bed with." A process of elimination after changing up your habits and sleep environment may help you figure out what issue is causing these symptoms.
If night sweats are combined with any other noticeable health changes, it is important to see a doctor. But if sweating in your sleep is a new, and not necessarily bothersome, issue, then you may simply need to make a few changes to your nighttime routine.
Here are ten things your body is trying to tell you if you sweat in your sleep, according to experts.
1. You're Carrying Daytime Stress With You
Just as anxiety during the daytime can cause you to sweat, if you take daytime worries to bed with you, you may end up sweating in your sleep.
"[Some of us] have not mastered the art of taking care of ourselves, and wear it as a badge of honor to work too hard and sleep too little," Wendie Trubow, MD, MBA, president of Five Journeys, tells Bustle. "This takes a toll on the adrenals, and can lead to fatigue, heart palpitations and, most importantly, night sweats."
2. You're Sleeping In The Wrong Clothes
As the seasons change, it's particularly important to pay attention to your sleep environment. Night sweats could be your body simply asking you to cool down a bit.
"Some people are hot natured while others sleep much cooler," Dr. Sujay Kansagra, Mattress Firm’s sleep health expert, and the director of Duke University’s Pediatric Neurology Sleep Medicine Program, tells Bustle. "But as each person has their own individual preferences, it is important to understand how to find the best sleep environment and attire." If you're sweating at night, try changing your pajamas and bedding. There are even special sheets designed to help keep you cool at night.
3. You Need To Change Up Your Sleep Environment
Besides your bedding and sleep clothes, the temperature in your room itself could be causing your night sweats. If you've been having trouble with sweating in your sleep, your body might simply be asking you to turn down the temperature (even if you feel cozy).
"The ideal temperature for a good night’s sleep is 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit," Dr. Kansagra says. "Turning down the thermostat is one way to improve your sleep quality, as too warm of a sleep environment can lead to sweating and sleep disruptions throughout the night." Try a night or two with a temperature change to see if your symptoms improve.
4. You May Be Experiencing Menopause
When it comes to body temperature, hormones can be major influencers. If you're having night sweats along with some other hormonal symptoms, you may be experiencing the effects of early menopause.
"Menopause can cause hot flashes, sweating due to changes in estrogen levels," Dr. Nesheiwat says. If the sweating doesn't abate, and you are also experiencing irregular periods or mood changes, talk to your doctor about the symptoms.
5. You May Be Experiencing Medication Side Effects
If you are on prescription medication, it's possible that your night sweats are due to side effects.
"Another common cause of night sweating is medication," Dr. Kerr says. "Night sweating can be a side effect of certain medications, including antidepressants and testosterone supplements." If your night sweating is particularly bothersome, bringing the issue up with your doctor may be helpful.
6. You Could Have A Sweating Disorder
Sweating in your sleep may be particularly noticeable, but if you also sweat during the day, it's possible your body is signaling to you that you have a sweating disorder.
"Night sweating can be caused by a wide variety of things — including a condition called hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)," Dr. Kerr says. If you notice sweating on your palms, underarms, and other areas throughout the day and night, it's worth mentioning these symptoms to your doctor.
7. You Could Have A Thyroid Problem
Sometimes, sweating in your sleep is a noticeable symptom that may point to the need to look out for other changes to your health. One of these diagnoses night sweating could point to is hyperthyroidism.
"[Hyperthyroidism] is a condition when the thyroid produces too much thyroxine hormone, because the brain thinks that there is not enough in the blood," board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, tells Bustle. Some other symptoms to look out for include increased appetite, tremors, anxiousness, and poor sleep.
8. You Could Have Low Blood Sugar
Blood sugar problems can be a culprit when it comes to sweating at night. Hypoglycemia, the medical term for low blood sugar, can be particularly notable.
"This is defined as low circulating blood glucose [...] and is generally associated with too high blood insulin levels," Dr. Shainhouse says. "In diabetics, this can be caused by taking too much insulin or other diabetes medications, skipping a meal, or exercising harder than usual." Hypoglycemia can be an issue on its own, however, and can be noted at nighttime with nightmares and confusion upon wakening, along with night sweats.
9. It Could Be A Sign of Lymphoma
While most of the time night sweats are due to simple, easy-to stop causes, sometimes they're a signal from your body that something quite serious is going on.
"One of the earliest signs of a cancer, lymphoma in particular, can be night sweats," Erum Ilyas, MD, MBE, FAAD, tells Bustle. "I think of night sweats as a ‘check engine light’ that can tell you to look for an underlying cause. Sometimes the sweats will be one of several symptoms such as chronic itching, fatigue or tiredness and shortness of breath." Luckily, this is relatively rare. But if your night sweating is persistent, it's important to talk to a doctor.
10. It May Signal Tuberculosis
Another rare but serious cause of night sweats is tuberculosis — an infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs.
"One important and dangerous cause of night sweats is tuberculosis (TB)," Chirag Shah, MD, co-founder of Accesa Labs, tells Bustle. "[...] One of the early symptoms of TB is sweating at night and, if one is concerned about a possible TB exposure, getting medical care and a tuberculosis screening test is essential." Of course, it's not very likely that you've contracted TB, but if you've noticed any other tuberculosis symptoms, it's worth checking in about.
For most people with night sweats, the problem can be solved relatively easily by changing your sleeping environment. Like any other health issue, however, if the symptoms are persistent or particularly bothersome, it's always worth it to see a doctor. It's much better to find out that the problem is small than let a larger issue go undiagnosed.