Why do I sweat at night? This is why women, men and children experience night sweats

Some causes are nothing to worry about, while others may need medical attention...
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  • As the temperatures rise, we might all be battling warmer nights trying to get comfortable as we fall asleep.

    While many of us like to fall asleep to the cooling whirr of a fan, we might wake up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat and wondering when we got so hot.

    Oftentimes, sweating a lot at night is a normal reaction to a hot evening. But sometimes, there can be a health issue causing night sweats, meaning it’s always good to get it checked out.

    Why do I sweat at night?

    Night sweats can happen for a variety of reasons, but one cause may be that hour beading is causing you to sweat a lot at nighttime.

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    If you sleep on a memory foam mattress for example, you may be more prone to sweating at night as the material can often lock heat in causing you to overheat. Synthetic or satin sheets can also cause more sweating, so it’s best to opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics, such as linen sheets.

    It’s important to note however that night sweats don’t just mean sweating at night – the NHS defines night sweats as when you sweat so much that your night clothes and bedding are soaked through, even though where you’re sleeping may be cool.

    Causes of night sweats in women

    For women, sometimes hormonal changes can make you sweat more at night.

    Many women experience hot flushes during the menopause for example, which can cause temperature changes that can lead to excessive sweating. They can happen throughout the day and night, so if you are of menopausal age (45+), it could be a reason for sweating a lot at night.

    Vicki Whiteley, Director of Aesthetics at The Whiteley Clinic, said, “Most women will experience hot flushes when going through the menopause. They’re often described as a sudden feeling of overwhelming heat that seems to come from nowhere and spreads throughout the body. Women may also experience sweating, palpitations, and flushing of the face.”

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    Pregnancy can also be a cause for night sweats. During pregnancy, your hormones of course are changing all the time. When your estrogen drops during prengnacy, your body often believes you are too hot, and then instructs your body to start sweating to help you cool down. This type of sweating generally occurs at night.

    Vicki explained, “Many women experience increased sweating during pregnancy, as hormone levels and blood flow tend to increase, which causes the body temperature to rise. As a result, the body then sweats more to cool down. Some women may also experience an increase in sweating after pregnancy as the body releases excess fluid and hormone levels return to normal.”

    But there are other things that can also bring about excessive sweating at night for women.

    As such, night sweats in women may occur because of:

    • due to pregnancy
    • due to the menopause
    • anxiety
    • with the use of medicines such as antidepressants, steroids and painkillers
    • alcohol or drug use – you may sweat more after a night of drinking
    • hyperhidrosis – a common and normal condition where you sweat more than is normal
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

    Night sweats after c section

    If you’re experiencing night sweats after giving birth via a Caesarean section, or after giving birth in general, rest assured that it is totally normal.

    Post-partum, your body is going through a lot of changes and is doing its best to recover. This can often mean that your body has low levels of estrogen, which can cause night sweats, as your body begins to adapt to no longer being pregnant – and all the physical changes that come with having a baby!

    Night sweats in men

    Night sweats can occur for many reasons in both men and women.

    In both genders, you may sweat too much as a result of lifestyle factors, medications, or even mental health issues.

    Night sweats in men can occur because of:

    • anxiety
    • medicines such as antidepressants, steroids and painkillers
    • alcohol or drug use – you may sweat more after a night of drinking
    • hyperhidrosis – a common and normal condition where you may sweat more than is normal
    • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

    Things like having a hot drink before bed, sleep apnea and more rarely, certain cancers and neurological conditions can cause night sweats too.

    Causes of night sweats in children

    Children can often experience night sweats, or they may never experience them at all. Like adults, they are a variety of reasons why children might sweat more at night time.

    Often, your kid will experience one type of sweating, either local sweating in one part of their body such as their head or neck, or general sweating, which is where they sweat all over.

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    Most of the time this is down to some very normal causes, such as a room that’s too warm, blankets or bedding that are too heavy for the weather, non-breathable night clothes, hormone changes as they get older, or perhaps because of their genetics – they could well simply take after you if you sweat a fair bit at bedtime too.

    Sometimes it may be due to more serious issues such as allergies, asthma, lung issues, and in rare cases, some childhood cancers. However, this much less likely, and would normally come accompanied with other worrying symptoms.

    When to see a doctor about night sweats

    If your excessive night sweating is not helped by wearing lighter night clothes, changing your bedding, opening windows or avoiding triggers (such as hot drinks), or if your sweating at night leaves your pyjamas and your bed soaked through, it’s a good idea to seek professional help with the issue.

    The NHS advises seeking help if:

    • they are happening regularly, or they are waking you up
    • you are having night sweats and losing weight too, without meaning to
    • have night sweats and a cough, diarrhoea, and/or a high temperature
    • are worried for whatever reason
    • feel generally tired and/or unwell