Do you wake up sweating during the night even when the temperature in your bedroom is cool? Night sweats are common, especially in people over the age of 65. In one study of almost 800 older people, 10% reported experiencing night sweats. Women were only slightly more likely to wake up sweating at night than men. Night sweats are not only bothersome to the person experiencing them, but their sleep partner was affected too. What causes night sweats?
What Causes Night Sweats?
Infections Cause Night Sweats
One common cause of sweating during the night is a low-grade or chronic infection. An infection can be associated with a low-grade fever that “breaks” during the night causing a person to wake up sweating. In some, but not all, cases, there are other symptoms of infection, and there may be a low-grade fever during the day too. Serious chronic infections such as tuberculosis can cause profuse night sweats.
Causes of Night Sweats: Medications
Certain medications cause night sweats including some antidepressants and antihistamines. The list of medications that trigger night sweats is long, so ask your doctor if you’re taking a drug that could be associated with sweating during the night. Don’t forget that alcohol and caffeine are common culprits.
Menopause Can Be Associated with Soaking Night Sweats
Women often wake up sweating at night when they’re going through menopause. Night sweats also occur during peri-menopause and may be the first sign of the hormonal fluctuations that occur as the change of life approaches. Some women experience night sweats several days before their menstrual period, when they’re pregnant, or while taking birth control pills.
Stress and Anxiety Can Cause Night Sweats
Night sweats are more common in people who have mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. In one study, people who experienced night sweats had lower scores on a mental health scale. Of course, having soaking night sweats can cause a person to become anxious, so it’s hard to know which causes what.
Causes of Night Sweats: Metabolic Problems
An overactive thyroid commonly causes soaking night sweats; and diabetes can do it too – especially if blood sugar levels drop during the night. An overactive thyroid can cause heat intolerance and sweating during the day too.
More Serious Causes of Night Sweats
Rarely, night sweats can be a sign of an undiagnosed malignancy such as leukemia or Hodgkin’s disease. Sweating during the night can also be a sign of HIV.
Less Serious, but Common Causes of Night Sweats
Don’t forget the obvious. Sleeping in a room too warm, exercising before going to sleep, drinking coffee or other hot drinks before bedtime, and eating spicy foods can cause sweating during the night. Make the necessary lifestyle changes and see if the night sweats resolve.
What Causes Night Sweats: The Bottom Line?
Night sweats have a variety of causes, and some of them are serious. If you have persistent night sweats that don’t resolve with lifestyle changes, see your doctor.
Medscape.com website. “Prevalence and Predictors of Night Sweats, Day Sweats, and Hot Flashes in Older Primary Care Patients: An OKPRN Study”
Medscape.com website. “The Prognostic Implications of Night Sweats in Two Cohorts of Older Patients”