Sweating At Night: Possible Causes And Prevention Reviewed

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Who hasn’t? You wake up in bed after an already often restless night sweating. Your pillow is wet and your hair sticks unpleasantly to your skin. And again you have to change the bed and take a long shower.

Especially in summer we often sweat more, but if you have this problem more often despite all your efforts, it can be worthwhile to get to the bottom of the cause.

Fortunately, the reasons for this are often harmless. With some aids, you can easily make your sleep more comfortable.

Nevertheless, you should not take night sweats lightly, especially in combination with other symptoms. You will find answers and support about this in this article as well.

The most important facts in brief

  • Sweating at night is normal. However, if you wake up sweating heavily and soaking wet, you suffer from heavy night sweats.
  • The amount of night sweat can vary individually. For some people, we can talk about a strong night sweat of less than one litre. People who are taller or who sweat a little more normally should use 1.5 litres per night as a guideline.
  • The cause of night sweats can be very different. Only very rarely are serious diseases such as cancer present.

Definition: What is night sweat actually?

Night sweat (medically also nocturnal hyperhidrosis) describes the unpleasant body function of sweating very heavily at night.

This usually involves people sweating to a great extent in their sleep.

It can happen that the sheets and covers are soaking wet that you have to change them almost daily.

For many sufferers it does not necessarily mean that they sweat excessively during the day.

Even though this may be the case for a small percentage, the heavy sweating often comes after falling asleep.

Backgrounds: What you should know about night sweats

How much sweating in the night is normal?

People normally secrete litres of fluid in the form of sweat every day.

Our glands ultimately ensure that our body temperature remains as constant as possible at the desired 37 degrees. Often we do not even notice that we are sweating.

We are also not spared this at night. Normally we secrete about 200 ml to 1 l of sweat at night.
This range is caused by environmental factors and the body’s own characteristics.
You can find out more about this in the subsection “What causes night sweats?

When do people sweat most at night?

Many people who sweat a lot at night report especially periods between 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning, when sweat is particularly annoying.
However, this does not apply to all people affected and can often have very simple causes.

What causes night sweats?

The reasons why you sweat at night can be many and varied. Fortunately they are mostly harmless and you can get some relief yourself with a few small adjustments.
Conditions in the bedroom
It is often the conditions in the bedroom itself that are the cause of heavy night sweats. This can be due to a ceiling that is too thick, for example.
There are studies that say that the heavier the blanket, the deeper the sleep.
And indeed, even at maximum summer temperatures, most people find it difficult not to sleep at least with an empty cover.
In this case, it might be worth investing in a blanket that allows sweat to evaporate more efficiently, or looking around for a heavy but still very thin blanket. You can find both in some shops, online and offline.

Often it is the temperature in the bedroom itself that makes you sweat more at night. According to sleep researchers, the optimal temperature is only 18 degrees Celsius.

If you have a thick blanket, you might even sleep optimally at 16 degrees. This is good news for all those who pay attention to their energy balance.
Of course there are people who prefer warmer conditions for sleeping. That’s why sometimes you have to try it out!
Of course, in our latitudes it is not easy, especially in summer, to always maintain the optimum temperature in the bedroom.

This is mainly due to the fact that many apartments are supposed to store heat earlier and are therefore more energy efficient.

Therefore, you should take this into account when buying or renting the apartment.

Some of the heat can also be kept away by appropriate blackout curtains and blinds. It is best to seek advice from a specialist.

Many of us also do not yet have air conditioning, which makes it even more difficult to solve the problem.

However, there are home remedies and tricks that can turn a summer hot bedroom into a slightly cooler refuge.

Tip 1

Ventilate well! You should also pay attention to the draft.

Some people prefer a slightly shorter airing, others leave the windows open all night. This depends on their own preferences and the environment.

People whose windows are on the east-south side should have the window closed again as soon as the first rays of sunlight arrive.

Tip 2

Spray the bedding slightly damp in the shoulder and foot area.

This especially helps you fall asleep and often allows you a calmer sleep, which can also ensure this,

Tip 3

Those who do not have an air conditioner may be helped by a fan. This is particularly effective if you use it with water.

You can either simply place a wet towel a few centimetres away in front of the fan, or place a bowl of water behind the fan and wait for the evaporating water to create a cool breeze.

Please make sure that you do not put wet materials on the fan, but keep a safe distance.

Medication

Some people who sweat heavily can easily attribute the problem to new drugs.

Usually you can already see on the package inserts whether the drugs have caused these side effects in some test persons.

If it is medication that you only have to take for a manageable period of time, it is often not worth changing it. These include above all antibiotics.

However, if you have a chronic condition and you take the medication after some time.

Sometimes the body just needs some acclimatization time – still leading to negative side effects, you should consult your doctor.

He can either regulate the dose or recommend alternative medication.

Physical diseases

However, sometimes sweat can also be a cause of physical illness.

Mostly the causes are infections that your body tries to fight against. In rare cases, however, more serious diseases cannot be ruled out.

Please remember that an accurate diagnosis can only be made by a doctor!

Mental illnesses

Strictly speaking, our brain is of course also part of our physical body, but since we like to treat our emotional level separately, we do the same here:

Stress

Who does not know this: you worry about whether you have done all the important tasks of the day well.

Or you have an important meeting or presentation tomorrow, or you simply feel burdened by personal relationships – be they romantic or friendly.

The consequences of this are that we cannot relax properly even when we are asleep and may sleep restlessly and sometimes wake up sweaty.

Anxiety disorders

Although the term is only associated in German-speaking countries with phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorder, which certainly take up a large part of it, it also exists in a general form.

Such an anxiety disorder manifests itself by the fact that those affected worry almost constantly and can only concentrate on negative scenarios.

This often manifests itself in the fact that the affected persons sleep restlessly and wake up bathed in sweat.

Traumatic experiences

People who have experienced terrible and very stressful things often process them during the quiet night hours.

Restless sleep, nightmares and heavy sweating are the result.

What different causes can night sweats have in men, women and children?

The above-mentioned causes can of course occur in any person, regardless of age and sex.
However, as some are more common in one population group, it is worthwhile to take a look at the small but subtle differences.
Men
Sweat-inducing metabolic diseases, from which men often suffer, are mainly diseases of the thyroid gland.
These can upset the hormone balance so much that the body constantly tries to regulate the various processes as best it can.
Sweat can be the result. But diabetes is also one of the most common causes.
So if, in addition to sweating, you also experience the obvious symptoms of extreme thirst and frequent urination, this can be a clear indication of diabetes.
Women
In women, however, hormonal changes are due to their normal physiology. Women in the menopause complain particularly frequently about hot flushes at night.

But also before or at the beginning of the period it can happen that women sweat more.

If it becomes a persistent problem, some women may benefit from hormone treatment.

Children

If you can exclude all environmental factors as a reason for your child to sweat a lot, be it a room that is too warm, a very thick blanket or more than comfortable pyjamas, then it does not necessarily have to be caused by an illness.

Some children often simply sweat more at night than others, the body often regulates this very individually.

However, if symptoms such as shortness of breath or the problems mentioned above appear, you should take a closer look.

In girls approaching teenage age, the heavy night sweats can also be a common harbinger of the first period.

But also boys go through hormonal changes during puberty, which make them sweat a lot.

What can you do for night sweats?

Since the causes of night sweats can be very different, the solutions must also be approached individually.
A warm bedroom requires you to cool it down so that your body does not have to work as an air conditioner. We have already mentioned some simple tips.

Illnesses as described above, however, require appropriate treatment.

Nevertheless, a cool bedroom can also help there. In case of doubt, it is therefore worth taking a number of measures.

When should you see a doctor about night sweats?

You should consult your doctor especially if the heavy perspiration occurs over a longer period of time.
Depending on the accompanying symptoms, your doctor will then normally carry out a series of tests to rule out more serious diseases.
It is therefore worthwhile to observe your body closely so that you can describe the additional symptoms to your doctor as accurately as possible. This makes it easier to diagnose and saves time.

If your sweat has a very unpleasant smell that cannot be explained by the usual bacteria, this can also be a sign that a disease is underlying.

Trivia: What else you should know about night sweats

Where do we sweat anyway?

People can sweat all over their body. Most sweat glands are located on the feet and palms of the hands.

However, the body’s own odorous substances are only secreted via the glands under the armpits and in the genital area.

Sweat itself usually only smells when it comes in contact with bacteria.

For example, because our feet often come into contact with unclean surfaces, we often have problems with ‘cheese feet’ in summer.

Therefore, it can also help to shave regularly, as this way the sweat does not come into contact with hairs, where bacteria can easily collect.

When people sweat at night, especially in the head and neck area, this is mainly because the rest of the body is covered either by a blanket or your nightie or pyjamas, which often absorb the sweat unnoticed.

Anyone who sleeps naked should therefore wash their duvet cover particularly often. Nightwear should also be washed very regularly.

What diet can help against night sweats?

Nutrition can play a big role if you sweat a lot at night.

Foods that contain a large amount of sugar are often associated with night sweats.

But spicy foods and even alcohol can also cause severe sweating.

Those who do not want to avoid these foods completely should nevertheless try to avoid them in the evening hours.

Also overweight, which can be additionally sudorific, can be reduced by an appropriate diet.

However, it does not have to be a cause of sweat, the personal

So if you are overweight but exercise regularly, you should look for other causes of heavy night sweats.

Why do some people sweat when they have an illness?

The body is normally aware that it is sick and the processes are not running as they should normally.

An effective way to get rid of bacteria and viruses is therefore to heat up their environment so much that they are not able to survive. Fever and sweat are the result.

Viruses also often like it dry, and beads of sweat will put a damper on them.

You should nevertheless avoid high humidity: Viruses multiply more easily in humidity.

What homeopathic approaches are there to reduce night sweats?

In homeopathy there are different approaches to relieve night sweats.

These include essential oils such as sage, rose, rosemary or tea tree oil, which can be added to various creams to reduce the amount of sweat.

Cooling peppermint oil can also soothe the skin and give a cool feeling.

If the sweat is nervous, Bach flowers can also help some people, which can have a calming effect on some people.

But various relaxation techniques can also greatly reduce stress.

Conclusion

Night sweats can be much more than an annoying problem. First of all, however, it is important to find out whether the causes are not to be found in simple environmental factors.

When you have investigated them all and can rule them out, you should do further research into their causes. We have compiled a list of the most common causes as a first aid.

Basically, only a long-lasting night sweat is cause for concern. However, it is necessary that you observe your body closely and react to the symptoms.

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