why do we sweat so much at night

If you’re wondering why you sweat so much at night, then you’re not alone. In fact most people sweat it out while they sleep. Unless you’re waking up to find that your bed sheets are drenched every night, then it’s really no cause for concern.

Still, no one wants to sleep on dried-out sweat from several nights ago if they don’t have to. Nor does anyone want to launder their bed linen every day. Or have their precious sleep disturbed due to sweating.

Both adults and kids can suffer from night sweats. This is when you wake up to soaking wet nightwear and linen. But if you’re asking ‘why am I sweating so much at night’, then here are a few things to think about.

6 reasons why you might be sweating so much at night

Here are six of the reasons why you could be waking up due to feeling like you’re drowning in sweat.

  1. Menopause

Menopause can cause night sweats - it’s one of the most commonly mentioned symptoms. They may also be referred to as ‘hot flushes’ or ‘hot flashes’. Your doctor should be able to confirm whether this is likely to be the case for you.

  1. Medication

Some drugs can cause night sweats. If this is really bothering you, then your GP might suggest coming off that medication. Or replacing it with something else.

  1. Hypoglycaemia

Another possible medical cause of sweating so much during sleep can be low blood sugar. This is one best discussed with your doctor. It can often be down to causes like diabetes, insulin intake, missing meals, skipping carbs, drinking alcohol and exercising.  

  1. Hyperhidrosis

Say what? If you’re sweating too much in bed, then it could be down to hyperhidrosis. This is a term used to explain excessive sweating. There’s not always a clear reason for this if it’s not due to another identifiable cause.

  1. Alcohol

Bad news for many of us, we know. But drinking alcohol - especially when you overdo it - can lead to excessive sweating at night. The same applies to some recreational drugs - whether they’re legal or not.

  1. Anxiety

Anxiety and stress can do all sorts to the body. And can be the cause of sweating at night. If you can, try to deal with any worries you have during the day. Talk to someone, write things down, or find out how to deal with problems. It can all help you to have a better night’s rest.

6 ways to reduce sweating at night

The good news is that there are various ways to minimise your chances of experiencing night sweats. Even for those going through the menopause!

ways to reduce sweating at night
  1. Watch what you wear

Loose-fitting clothing is better when you’re prone to sweating. At any time of the day or night. Ditch synthetic fabrics in favour of natural, more breathable materials such as cotton, bamboo or silk.

  1. Buy new bedlinen

If your bed linen has been produced using man-made fabrics, then replacing it with natural fabrics can help. Cotton is preferable to synthetics, and bamboo is even better. The top choice, though, has to be silk.

If this leaves you wondering who on earth can afford pure silk sheets, there is a simple way to sleep on silk without such expense. Invest in a pure silk pillowcase, and you can reap many of the benefits of natural silk. It’s where you rest your head, and can make your skin and hair smoother.

Silk can also have a cooling effect, as it’s thermo-regulating. This means that sleeping on silk can help prevent night sweats, ensuring you sleep deeper and for longer.

  1. Don’t go to bed hot

If you retire for the night feeling hot, then your chances of waking up due to night sweats is surely increased. If you tend to feel the heat at night, avoid taking a late bath or shower that can raise your body temperature. The same goes for hot food and drinks, and exercise.

Anything that can raise your body temperature should be avoided during the last hour or so before bed. Getting between the sheets while you’re feeling overheated will only transfer that excess heat to your bed linen and mattress, where it may well be retained for some time.

  1. Watch what you eat

What you eat can also impact your sleep, by causing night sweats. Spicy food can be a culprit, so avoid curries and other hot dishes if you can. Especially if you tend to eat these later on in the day.

  1. Cut down on alcohol

If you’ve ever woken up after overindulging at the pub or a party, then you’ll know that too much alcohol can keep you up at night. More than one or two units can be enough to cause sweating during hours of darkness.

Cut it out altogether to see if you notice the difference. Or at least try to limit your intake when you really need to get a good night’s rest!

  1. Wind down

If you don’t deal with worries and anxiety during the day, then the chances are that those stresses will come back to bite you at night. Talk to a friend, write it down, take steps to deal with issues that concern you or make a plan of action.

Simple, self-care hacks like lighting a scented candle, reading a book or magazine or sitting down to enjoy a meal properly can help. Avoid screens an hour before lights out too.

When to see a doctor about night sweats

If waking to find that you’re drenched in sweat is happening often or you’re concerned about it, then it’s worth consulting your GP. The NHS also advises seeking advice if you’re also losing weight for no reason you know of. Or if you’re also suffering from a fever or diarrhoea.

In some cases, night sweats can be caused by medication. So your doctor may want to try something new if they suspect this to be the case.

For more tips about how to stay cool when you are asleep. We have the answers you need for a restfull and cooler sleep.

January 19, 2023 — Michelle Fletcher Smith