What Are the Causes of Night Sweats

Everyone knows the feeling of waking up in the middle of the night, panting, completely drenched in sweat wondering what time it is, where you are, which dimension you landed in, and why you’re no longer wearing your yellow jumpsuit.

Catching your breath, you throw the covers off you in an attempt to cool down and contemplate changing your PJs (and your sheets tomorrow) while you try to figure out why the hell you’re so hot. It’s a gross feeling that’s hard to shake. But how do you know if you simply had a stressful intergalactic dream or if you actually have night sweats?

What exactly are night sweats?

Usually associated with a fever or other symptoms of concern, night sweats are repeated episodes of extreme perspiration and are usually associated with a medical condition or illness. Rather than simply sleeping warm, nocturnal hyperhidrosis (the fancy way of saying night sweats) has nothing to do with your sleeping environment and is actually the hypothalamus, the temperature regulator in the brain, mistaking the body as too warm. In fact, because of this mistake, night sweat sufferers may actually wake up feeling cold instead of hot.

If you’re frequently or regularly experiencing night sweats and soaking your pajamas or sheets, you should absolutely make an appointment and discuss with your doctor to find the correct diagnosis.

What causes sweating while sleeping?

Night sweats actually have nothing to do with the temperature of your sleeping environment, however there are a large variety of other causes.

  • Medications

Several medications including antidepressants, hormone-blockers and even occasionally aspirin can have night sweats as a side effect. Also, those on insulin who are experiencing low blood sugar can experience flushing and sweating.

  • Menopause

A frequent symptom of menopause for many women, hot flashes can occur at night and cause someone to wake up drenched.

  • Infection

Many infections, including tuberculosis and several bacterial infections, can lead to severe sweating at night.

  • Idiopathic hyperhidrosis

This condition in which the body produces too much sweat without any identifiable medical condition also affects people at night.

So what if you’re just sweaty at night?

If, after talking to your doctor, you’ve found that you aren’t having night sweats, but are actually just getting too hot at night, we have plenty of suggestions to help you figure out how to sleep cool.

If you’re using a topper or mattress protector, those can trap heat and make your sleep setup significantly hotter—trying to sleep without them could be a simple solution.

If you’re using flannel sheets or higher thread-count sheets above 250 or 300 count (which can also trap heat) you can try using a different style to see if that helps. Our percale cotton sheets and linen sheets are designed to breathe really well and sleep cool.

You may also want to look into switching out your duvet or comforter for just a light blanket or quilt.

Our last suggestion would be to look into a new mattress. There are plenty of mattresses out there have made cooling sleeping a priority. If you’re thinking about a foam mattress, look for an open-cell foam—these tend to be more breathable than closed-cell foams. The T&N Original Mattress and Mint Mattress also have graphite in them, a powerful conductor that pulls your body heat away from you, and cooling gel beads.

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Breanne DeMore
Breanne DeMore

Breanne DeMore focuses on content development at Tuft & Needle, an ecommerce mattress company with a focus on the customer and employee experience. She started her career as a journalist, covering various subjects including weddings, entertainment, women’s lifestyle and the beverage industry. After sleeping on a Tuft & Needle mattress for only two weeks, Breanne sought to join the company from College Times, a local Phoenix magazine, where she served as the editor-in-chief. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Pepperdine University, and now lives in Phoenix with her husband and the occasional glass of rosé.

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