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Why Am I Sweating at Night? Common Causes and Solutions
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Why Am I Sweating at Night? Common Causes and Solutions

"Why Am I Sweating at Night?" Common Causes and Solutions for the Average Hot Sleeper

Waking up drenched in sweat can be an uncomfortable – and sometimes concerning – experience. Night sweats, also known as nocturnal hyperhidrosis, are extremely common and can stem from a variety of causes. Understanding the reasons behind night sweats is the first step to finding long-term, personalized solutions.

Common Causes of Night Sweats

  1. Body Temperature Rising During Sleep

    • Cause: A warm or heat-trapping sleeping environment. Heat-trapping fabrics like polyester or other fossil-fuel-based synthetics, thick or full-body sleepwear, or even just an incorrectly set thermostat can cause your body to overheat. Foam mattresses are made with petrochemicals, and have extremely low heat resistance (i.e., they absorb your body heat and hold it instead of releasing it). Pillows stuffed with foam and encased with polyester, no matter how cool of a shape its in, will heat up underneath your neck and head.
    • Solution: Experiment with the room temperature (and possibly use the auto setting to stay within a min and max temperature); sleep in the nude or wear breathable, lightweight sleepwear; and use more breathable / moisture-wicking / temperature-regulating bedding like Eucalyptus Lyocell, bamboo viscose, modal, linen, or even a low-thread-count cotton. Remember: the higher the thread count, the more suffocating your sheets can be (less free space for air flow in each square inch of fabric!). You can also consider a natural latex mattress instead of foam for superior breathability, heat resistance, durability, and back support.
  2. Stress and Anxiety

    • Cause: Stress and anxiety can trigger the body's fight-or-flight response, leading to a busy mind, increased heart rate, and sweating as a physiological response.
    • Solution: Practice relaxation techniques before bed, such as deep breathing, meditation, stretching, journaling, showering / taking a bath, a cup of "sleepytime" tea, or reading a book. Avoid screens, phone applications (which are designed to simulate your stress hormones), and difficult conversations at least an hour before bed. And if you sleep with a partner, never go to bed angry! (We stole this last tip from your grandmother.)
  3. Hormonal Changes

    • Cause: Hormonal fluctuations, especially in women during menopause or pregnancy, can lead to night sweats.
    • Solution: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be an option for menopausal women. For pregnant women, dressing in layers and using a fan can help. As always, switching away from microfiber/polyester/synthetic fossil-fuel-based bedding (which is effectively just heat-trapping plastic) and replacing your foam mattress and pillow will help.
  4. Medications

    • Cause: Certain medications, such as antidepressants, antipyretics (fever reducers), and some blood pressure drugs, can cause night sweats.
    • Solution: Consult your doctor about adjusting the dosage or switching medications if night sweats persist.
  5. Medical Conditions

    • Cause: Medical conditions like infections (e.g., tuberculosis), hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and some cancers (e.g., lymphoma) can cause night sweats.
    • Solution: Seek medical advice to diagnose and treat any underlying conditions. Your doctor may order tests to identify the cause.
  6. Dietary Factors

    • Cause: Consuming spicy foods, caffeine, sugar, or alcohol before bedtime can increase body temperature and cause sweating.
    • Solution: Avoid these triggers in the afternoons and evenings, and opt for lighter, milder foods, and lesser portions. Try to avoid caffeine altogether after 12pm, and alcohol should be limited to 1-2 drinks (anything beyond that also causes you to release more cortisol, a waking hormone).
  7. Sleep Disorders

    • Cause: Conditions like sleep apnea can disrupt normal breathing patterns, leading to night sweats.
    • Solution: A sleep study may be necessary to diagnose sleep apnea. Treatment options include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy or lifestyle changes.

Practical Solutions for Night Sweats

  1. Optimize Your Sleep Environment

    • Temperature Control: Keep your bedroom cool, ideally between 60-67°F (15-19°C).
    • Bedding Choices: Use moisture-wicking sheets and light, breathable blankets. Consider cooling pillows or mattress toppers, but be wary of "cooling" additives – fabrics are naturally heat-resistant or heat-trapping, so do some research to find out which are which. No amount of "proprietary cooling technology" marketing mumbo-jumbo will make polyester or foam magically not trap and hold heat.
    • Ventilation: Ensure proper airflow by using fans or opening windows.
  2. Healthy Sleep Habits

    • Consistent Routine: Maintain a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Have a morning routine that incorporates 16-32 ounces of water, direct sunlight (you'll release melatonin 13 hours after you view sunlight in the morning), and some physical activity like stretching or cardio.
    • Wind-Down Routine: Create a calming pre-sleep routine to reduce stress and promote relaxation. A warm shower close to bed time can counterintuitively cause your body to regulate its temperature better throughout the night.
  3. Lifestyle Adjustments

    • Hydration: Stay well-hydrated throughout the day but reduce fluid intake before bed (no fluids about 30-60 minutes before sleep is a good call). In other words, have that cup of tea about an hour before you plan to sleep.
    • Exercise: Regular physical activity can help regulate your body temperature at night, but avoid vigorous exercise too close to bedtime.
  4. Medical Consultation

    • If night sweats persist despite making these changes, consult a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

We've all been there: night sweats are the worst. But the good news is that there are many practical and free solutions to try. By optimizing your sleep environment, selecting better bedding, maintaining healthy sleep habits and routines, watching your diet, exercising daily, and seeking medical advice when necessary, you can reduce the frequency and severity of night sweats.

While it may be tempting to just tweak 1-2 things, identifying your own personal root cause is the key to finding lasting relief. At first, it might seem like nothing works, but with continuous experimentation, we're confident you can find something that works for you – and the additional uninterrupted sleep each night will dramatically improve your physical, mental, and emotional health over the long-term.

Hope this post helps!

- Your bed friends at Sheets & Giggles

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