6 Causes of Night Sweats And How to Fix Them

At what point should you be concerned about your night sweats?  Learn about the different causes of night sweats.

Experts say that your body experiences a variation of temperature when you are asleep. You are probably asking yourself if the night sweats you are experiencing are normal. The answer you are looking for is in this article.

Night sweats are harmless sometimes. However, when it reaches particular extremes, you need to consult a doctor.

We are going to look into night sweats. We will find out when you should be worried. We will also dig into the causes and remedies for night sweating.


What are Night Sweats?

Night sweats is a condition where you experience extreme perspiration that results in your clothes and bedding being soaked.

Night sweating is associated with many conditions like menopause, pregnancy, diseases, and infections. However, it is evident with people without these conditions.

Experiences with night sweats

The body has mechanisms to regulate its temperature.

Sweating is controlled by both thermoregulatory and non-thermoregulatory mechanisms.

Sweating is a natural response of the body to control the high temperature. When the limit set by the body is surpassed, it triggers a reaction called the hypothalamic response. The natural limit the body has set is called the Thermo-Neutral Zone.

Circadian variation can influence night sweating. It also affects temperature regulation during the night. Physical conditioning can also reduce sweating after exercise. There is enough evidence that the hypothalamic responses can be altered after a few days of exercising in a hot environment.

The hypothalamus is located in the brain. It is responsible for vital functions like the release of hormones and regulation of temperature. Hormonal imbalance and night sweats are an indication that the hypothalamus is not properly working.

In the evening, the body temperature falls to allow you to sleep.  A complete sleep cycle consists of three non-rapid eye movement stages and one rapid eye movement phase. The third non-rapid eye movement is the deep stage.

The sweating happens during the non-rapid eye movement. Sweating reduces during the rapid eye movement stage. This is the stage where dreams occur. It reduces further in the absence of emotionally-charged dreams.

Sweating reduces in the non-rapid eye movement stage despite the increase in activities in this stage of sleep. This stage of sleep is associated with brain glucose metabolism, increased heart rate, increased temperature in some parts of the brain, and increased activity of the skin. Therefore, night sweats mostly occur during the first stage of sleep.

Night sweating is enhanced by different triggers. These triggers disrupt the mechanisms which aid in the regulation of temperature. We will discuss those causes below.


Main Causes of Night Sweats

Menopause

Perimenopause is the period when the body is transitioning to menopause. In this period, the ovaries slow down the production of estrogen. Estrogen is composed of different hormones responsible for sex drive and pregnancy.

Menopause

The Perimenopause period is associated with hot flashes. The hot flashes may continue even after menopause. 75% of women experience these hot flashes with sweating. The remaining 25% experience hot flashes alone.

A hot flush is a feeling of intense warmth. It is felt in the chest and the neck region. The hot flushes are triggered by low levels of estrogen in the body. The hot flushes are more severe in women who undergo surgical menopause than in natural menopause.

The mechanism behind the hot flushes is not very clear. Experts are still exploring why low estrogen levels during pre-puberty do not lead to these hot flushes. The only explanation is that older women have a thinner thermoneutral zone.

The thermo-neutral zone in normal women is 0.4° C. A slight fluctuation in temperature does not lead to a compensatory mechanism. The reverse is true for women in the menopause stage. A little temperature change when they are asleep leads to sweating.

Cancers

Night sweats are a symptom of cancer. The night sweats associated with cancer are persistent. Hot flushes during menopause happen in irregular intervals. Cancer patients are left soaked in sweat. Sweating in cancer is accompanied by other symptoms such as headaches and weight loss.

Cancers and night sweats

The common types of cancer associated with night sweats are leukemia and lymphoma. These types of cancer have other symptoms. These symptoms include fatigue and daytime sweating.

Cancer may lead to fever. The body has thermoregulatory mechanisms to maintain its temperature. These mechanisms trigger sweat when you experience a fever.

Cancer medication may also lead to night sweats. These treatment methods include chemotherapy and drugs. When medicine is applied, it alters the level of hormones in the body. Night sweat is a side effect of these treatments.

Medication

Medication side effects

Some of the medication that causes night sweats includes the following.

  • Pain killers

Pain killers reduce fevers. They cause blood vessels to dilate. It makes it easier for the skin to lose heat. It causes sweating.

  • Migraines medication

Migraines medication like sumatriptan increases the level of serotonin in the blood. High levels of Serotonin affects the thermoregulatory mechanism of the body. It leads to night sweats.

  • Diabetes medication

Sweating can be a sign that you have low sugar levels if you have diabetes.  Diabetes medication causes an increase in blood sugar. Sweating is a reported side effect of diabetes medication.

  • Cancer medication

Different types of cancer from the ones mentioned above include breast and prostate cancer. Medication for these types of cancer causes hot flushes similar to the one experienced by women during menopause.

Lupron injections for prostate cancer patients cause low levels of estrogen and testosterone in women and men, respectively. Low levels of these hormones cause night sweats.

Menstrual Period

The body goes through the fluctuation of hormones during the menstrual period. The variations start to happen as a result of the premenstrual syndrome. The premenstrual syndrome affects the moods, behavior, emotions, and health of a woman.

night sweats while Menstrual Period

During this period, there is a change in the level of Serotonin and other sex hormones. This change affects the hypothalamus. It is the part of the brain that is responsible for regulating body temperature.

Therefore, it makes the body to react to small changes in temperature. An increase in temperature leads to night sweats.

Depression

Anxiety can increase the responsiveness of the sweat glands. It makes the thermoneutral zone narrower. Slight temperature changes result in sweating as a corrective mechanism. A fall in core temperature enhances sleep.

Night sweats with Depression

A fall in core temperature is associated with depression. Depressed patients experience more night sweats than healthy people.

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Hyperhidrosis

It is a condition where one experiences excessive sweating. The sweating can soak your clothes and even drip off the hands.

Night sweats with Hyperhidrosis

The body automatically triggers the sweat glands to release sweat when the body temperature rises.

There are two types of hyperhidrosis. The first type is the primary focal hyperhidrosis. In this type of hyperhidrosis, the nerves signaling the sweat glands overreact. The situation worsens when you are anxious or depressed.

The other type is secondary hyperhidrosis happens as a result of a medical condition. The medical conditions include diabetes, cancer, infections among many others.


How to Stop Night Sweats

Some cases of night sweating can be avoided. You can achieve this by avoiding triggers and proper sleep hygiene.

Avoiding Triggers

  • Avoid smoking and drinking.
  • Avoid eating spicy food.
  • Avoid using heavy blankets and beddings.
  • Avoid stress and anxiety.
  • Avoid wearing tight or restrictive clothing.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep Hygiene

  • Exercising during the day and not a few minutes before sleeping.
  • Use of a bedside fan.
  • Use of the right blanket and beddings.
  • Use of the right type of pillow. Bamboo and buckwheat pillows help keep your body temperature cool.
  • Calming routine before bed to reduce stress.
  • Drink cool water..

Other methods of treatment include:

  • Hormone replacement therapy.
  • Sleeping medication to prevent you from being woken up.

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Conclusion

Night sweat is a condition of excess perspiration during the night. The sweating leads to soaked clothes. It can be caused by different triggers. These triggers interrupt the body mechanism meant to regulate its temperature.

Some of the causes of night sweats include menopause, cancer, menstrual cycle, medication, hyperhidrosis, and depression. Most of these causes affect the sensitivity of the sweat glands or the functions of the hypothalamus.

The nerves in charge of sweating tend to overreact. Therefore, a slight temperature change may lead to thermoregulatory mechanisms. It is what causes night sleeps. Treatment methods to improve night sweats include proper sleep hygiene and avoiding triggers of night sweats.

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