Alternative Names: Sleep Hyperhidrosis or Nocturnal Hyperhydrosis.
Night sweats is a common perspiration disorder that occurs during sleep and stops upon waking. Night sweats involve not simply sweating a lot at night, but literally drenching the bed. A healthy person produces between 500 and 1,000cc of sweat each day. A person with a perspiration disorder will produce much more. Although the causes of night sweats are many, generally they are symptomatic of underlying disease.
Sweating is a natural body function, but if it becomes bad enough to wake you up night after night, wet and shivering, it has gone beyond "natural" and the cause should be determined.
Causes and Development
- Menopause or Andropause. Menopause in women is the most common cause of night sweats. However, some men also suffer from night sweats during the male menopause, or andropause.
- Chemotherapy (leaches the body of estrogen, which brings on menopause)
- HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis, Hodgkin's Lymphoma and other fever-producing / immuno-suppressing disorders diseases
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This can be serious – if you also suffer from severe snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness, it might be time for a sleep study.
- Alcohol, some drugs (both recreational and medical), spicy foods. Some prescription drugs, like Zoloft, can cause night sweats.
- Hypothalamic lesions
- Cerebral palsy
- Spinal cord infarction
- Head injury
- Familial dysautomia
- Anti-nausea medication used during pregnancy
- Antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication
- Birth control pills
Unfortunately, sometimes there doesn't seem to be a definitive cause.
Signs and Symptoms
People suffering from night sweats wake up in damp or soaked bedding, feeling either too hot or slightly cold.
Treatment and Prevention
The best way to treat night sweats is to eliminate the cause. It may be necessary to go through the list of possible causes and eliminate them one by one. If no cause seems to be forthcoming, then you may suffer from Primary Hyperhydrosis. This disorder can become severe enough to interfere with day-to-day life, and consists not only of night sweats, but of excessive sweating throughout the day. If severe enough, your doctor may suggest surgery for the removal of the sweat glands.
Possibly beneficial lifestyle changes include avoidance of alcohol and spicy foods. Talk to your doctor about any medications that you are taking to see if they could be the cause. Sleep in a cool room and, if weather permits, leave the window open, or try using a fan. Get up and take a shower or a sponge bath; change your bedding and put on fresh nightwear; have a cold drink such as water or fruit juice. A cold shower before bed might prevent an attack of night sweats.
According to Chinese medical theory, night sweats are associated with a yin essence (body essence). The diminished state is due to a depletion of body fluids and nutrients. Symptoms include flushed cheeks, warm palms and soles, a dry mouth, red lips, small quantities of dark urine, a red tongue with slight coating, a weak and rapid pulse, and low-grade fevers. Chinese medicine
states that if there is a wasting away caused by a consumptive disease, then yin deficiency must be present. (For this reason, HIV
disease is therefore often diagnosed as a yin deficiency.)