Waking Up Drenched? What Causes Night Sweats and When to Be Concerned

Updated on September 29, 2020

Night sweats are probably more common than you think. That’s because they are under-reported, according to a study published in the National Library of Medicine. In a study, 41% of patients in a primary care setting reported having sweats during the night.

Do you sometimes wake up drenched in sweat? You’re probably fine but how do you know? Read on to learn whether your night sweats mean you should seek professional attention.

What Causes Night Sweats?

Night sweats are very common and not an indication of something serious, in most cases. Even though this is the case, night sweats can be worrying.

The treatments for night sweats depend on the underlying cause. It may be sufficient to improve your sleeping arrangements and lifestyle.

Your Mattress

A mattress should provide you with a comfortable surface to sleep on. It should aid restful sleep but often it’s the very thing that is causing your night sweats.

Your mattress could seem cool and soft to the touch before you get into bed. After a while, your body heat and the mattress together create an uncomfortably warm environment.

The heat created can cause your body to try to use its natural defense against the heat. Sweat is produced on the surface of your skin. Its evaporation cools your skin in normal conditions but when confined in bed it simply wets your skin any clothing and the bedding too.

Try a mattress that keeps you cooler. An open-cell mattress allows air to circulate and so keeps your body cooler.

Memory foam mattresses can be more comfortable but may also be hotter. Try a gel-infused foam that is lower density. Less than 4 pounds per square foot is best and opt for a latex foam rather than man-made polyurethane.

Your Bedroom

Even if your mattress is fine, your bedroom could be the cause of your night sweats. Keep your bedroom comfortably cool rather than toasty warm. Too much heat in the bedroom can cause you to sweat more.

Set you thermostat to below 70 degrees. Even as low as 60 degrees is a comfortable temperature for sleeping.

Your Bedtime Regime

Check your bedding and what you wear for bed. Are you creating a hot and humid sleeping environment without realizing it? Wear breathable pajamas and don’t pile too many blankets on your bed.

Use cooling fabric. Man-made fibers can get hot and tend not to be breathable. Linen or cotton are best for keeping you cool, and they also wick away body moisture so you won’t feel wet.

Have a bedtime routine that is relaxed and free of stimulants. Avoid a bedtime alcoholic drink, heavy meals and caffeine before bed.

Stress and Anxiety

The cause of your night sweats may be found during your day. Stresses and anxiety during the day can result in night time sweats. The treatment for stress-induced night sweats is to address the stress rather than doing anything about your bed or bedroom.

Find out what is causing you to worry. Is it a work-related matter or perhaps a problem with a personal relationship? Address this issue or seek counseling to help resolve it.

Include exercise and relaxation in your daily routine. Relaxation techniques include qigong, meditation or breathing exercises. Eat a nutritious diet and keep your alcohol intake moderate too.

Viral Infection

If your night sweats have begun recently and you’ve not suffered from them for many weeks, they may be the result of a mild viral infection.

Cold and flu viruses cause coughs, a sore throat, sneezing, and a runny or blocked nose. They are often associated with a raised temperature and it’s this that can be the cause of night sweats. These symptoms are short-term and will pass after a few days.


Are you taking some medication for a condition other than night sweats? If you are, the night sweats could be a side effect of this medication.

Heat inducing drugs include antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs. Check the side effects of the drugs you are taking for any mention of night sweats. Even aspirin can cause sweating.

More Serious Issues

Sleep apnea is a condition whereby you wake frequently during the night. It can be associated with snoring, restlessness, and insomnia. Sufferers report being very tired during the day and waking up with a sore throat or headache.

This condition can also be associated with night sweats. If you have the other symptoms seek medical advice.

Menopause is a hormonal issue and is often associated with hot flushes. These may happen during the day or night. The menopause is not the only hormonal issue that can be associated with night sweats.

Low testosterone, thyroid problems, and carcinoid syndrome are all hormone disorders that can be indicated by night sweats.

Some cancers can be associated with unexplained sweating. They are rare are can be confused with flu-like symptoms.

Some serious infections of the heart, lungs, and bones can cause night sweats. Similarly, HIV, brucellosis and some diseases borne by tics can have similar symptoms.

Some serious neurological illnesses such as stroke have night sweats as one of the minor symptoms. There are often much more obvious and serious symptoms too.

If you experience persistent symptoms, seek medical attention.

Don’t Sweat

If your night sweats cannot be explained by any of the more common and trivial causes, or they persist, seek medical attention. You needn’t suffer in silence. There may be a solution to your night sweats.

Browse our website for more fascinating medical tips.

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