What Are Night Sweats?

Excessive sweating during sleep is referred to as night sweats.
Dehydration, which can be caused by excessive drinking, can lead to headaches and night sweats.
A diagram of the human skin, including sweat glands.
People with night sweats have to change sheets often.
Menopausal women may experience night sweats triggered by a hormonal imbalance.
Article Details
  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 30 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Night sweats refers to excessive sweating during sleep. Light sweating typically wouldn't be characterized as night sweats. Night sweats are more akin to hot flashes one experiences at night. It's a common problem that affects men and women alike and can be caused by a host of conditions from medically benign things like a hot bedroom or sleeping under too many blankets all the way to more serious medical conditions like excessive stress or anxiety, side effects from medications, or even neurological problems.

Mild sweating at night would not be characterized as "night sweats." The amount of sweat produced from this condition is excessive. It can vary greatly from lightly sweating into one's pajamas to soaking the bedsheets and bed. Sometimes the amount of overheating and perspiration that one experiences in a night sweat is so great that it wakes them up in the middle of the night prompting them to move over to a dry part of the bed or possibly even to change their bed clothes. If it's clear that the overheating is a result of a hot environment, wearing lighter pajamas or using lighter blankets or keeping an open airflow in the bedroom can prevent future episodes. If the sleeping conditions are not hot however, there may be medical causes.

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A variety of medical conditions or medically-related situations can contribute to the occurrence of night sweats. Perhaps the most common or most obvious is stress and anxiety. Stressful waking lives can manifest in dreams that cause great anxiety and result in night sweats. For women in menopause, night sweats can occur just as hot flashes during the day occur. Night sweats may be a byproduct or side effect of certain medications or combinations of medications. Those who suffer from idioathic hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating generally, may also sweat excessively during the nighttime hours. Infections, hormonal imbalances, certain cancers, and even neurological problems can also cause night sweating.

In most cases, night sweats are harmless — the result of a hot environment or a temporarily stressful period in one's life. Medical professionals, however, recommend that those who suffer from these nusances for a prolonged period seek the advice of a medical professional as it could be a symptom of a more serious medical problem.

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Discuss this Article

ladylove
Post 9

I'm 20 years old and I've been dealing with night sweats for the past three days. I don't go to sleep stressed or with anxiety. I wake up and me and my sheets are soaked in sweat! I love sleeping, but now I dread waking up in sweat. I'm so young and I honestly don't know what the problem is.

anon344101
Post 7

I've had horrible, horrible nightmares so real that when I wake up at 4 a.m., I am drenched and have to change my clothes. It is winter right now, but I wake up drenched in sweat and feeling extremely hot. I was so scared. I am scared of the depression I am in. I wish someone could help me, or be with me and love and care for me.

I am severely depressed. I've begun to smoke and drink heavily to ease the pain, but last night I felt I was not drunk enough to ease the nightmares. I have to be very, very drunk so as not to feel so much physical pain.

anon343109
Post 6

This just started with me. I wake up sweating. My bedclothes are drenched. This is so depressing.

anon324107
Post 5

I had it twice, after months of the worst-- and I mean worst -- girlfriend-induced stress, so much that my girlfriend, the cause of my despair and suffering, thought that I had peed in the bed. At first, she couldn't believe it was sweat, but also helped her to realize how much physical suffering her coldness has put me thorough. I never had it again though.

My hair was drenched in sweat, and the sheets were, of course, soaked. I had to take a quick hot shower then sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag!

anon317664
Post 4

PMS and/or PMDD can also cause night sweats.

anon109555
Post 3

I am suffering from extreme night sweats again. Stress does trigger the problem. I had the same last year and as the stress in my life passed so did the sweats. It is no joke when you wake up soaking wet. I only wish the stress in my life would ease up so I can go back to normal!

anon80000
Post 2

is feeling hot at night to be considered as night sweats? i would like to know.

6pack
Post 1

I believe night sweats can also be caused by anxiety or stress. Last year, I went through a very stressful time and experienced night sweats, which I had never before experienced, for about 2 weeks. When the stress passed, the night sweats went with it. I've had another bout with stress more recently. It's not as severe as the last experience and this time, I'm not getting night sweats but, it seems, that every time I wake up I'm extremely hot -- almost on the verge of sweating.

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