What Are Common Causes of Night Sweats and Insomnia?

Stress can cause insomnia.
Dehydration, which can be caused by excessive drinking, can lead to headaches and night sweats.
Any virus that causes a fever can prompt night sweats and insomnia.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Many common conditions create night sweats and insomnia. First, night sweats frequently lead to insomnia because episodes of heavy sweating can cause the individual to wake up at night. He or she may need to change his or her clothes or sheets because they’ve drenched them in sweat. This nighttime interruption disrupts the sleep cycle and makes it difficult to resume sleep, resulting in exhaustion. In other instances, things like stress and anxiety disorders, pregnancy or menopause, infections, hormonal imbalances, sleep apnea, or medications are most commonly associated with concurrent emergence of these two conditions.

Stress or anxiety disorders are linked to night sweats and insomnia, which means that most people may be vulnerable at some point in their lives to developing these symptoms. Night sweats don't necessarily happen to all people with anxiety, but they can be an added unpleasant symptom that worsens sleep problems. The key to symptom reduction is lowering underlying stress, which might involve a variety of self-help or therapeutic treatments.

Women who have experienced pregnancy or menopause can attest to the challenges of these symptoms. For perimenopausal women, the frequent hot flashes often affect the ability to sleep. Night sweats also elevate stress levels, so the body may be less likely to get adequate sleep.

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A variety of common infections may result in temporary night sweats and insomnia. Any type of virus accompanied by a fever may cause excess sweating and extreme wakefulness, and these conditions are usually resolved as the body effectively eliminates the virus. Certain viruses, like HIV, can’t be cured and might continue to produce these symptoms. Bacterial infections are also known for causing sleep problems and sweating, and some most commonly associated with these symptoms include tuberculosis and any infection that causes cysts or organ inflammation. Symptoms are usually temporary and go away with treatment.

Hormonal imbalances create nighttime perspiration and poor sleep. One of the most common offenders, aside from hormone changes in pregnancy and menopause, is higher than normal levels of thyroid hormone or hyperthyroidism. The thyroid hormones regulate body temperature, and elevated levels can raise body temperature significantly.

Other sleep disturbances have been associated with these symptoms. Some people who experience sleep apnea report these problems, and this condition often complicates matters because it already makes it difficult for a person to get a good night's sleep. Treating apnea may resolve all of the symptoms, however.

Many people take medications that affect sleep. Night sweats and insomnia have been associated with a variety of antidepressants, with corticosteroids like prednisone, and with drugs like tamoxifen. Not all people taking these medications report excess sweating and insomnia as side effects. People who suffer these symptoms regularly may want to speak to a medical professional to discuss possible medication changes.

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