Night Sweats: What Are They?
The term “night sweats” refers to a group of symptoms which occur during sleep. These include:
• excessive daytime perspiration (sweating)
• rapid heart rate (HR) increase or irregular heartbeat (palpitations), especially after physical exertion or emotional stressors such as nightmares, social situations, and anxieties.
• increased blood pressure (BP)
• increased body temperature (hyperthermia).
In some cases, these symptoms may be accompanied by other symptoms such as:
• nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, headache, dizziness or weakness.
These symptoms are generally considered to be non-specific signs of anxiety. However, they may indicate underlying conditions such as:
• hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
• high levels of adrenaline (stress hormone) in the body.
These symptoms usually get better or go away altogether after a period of rest. If these symptoms worsen or persist, see your doctor immediately.
What causes night sweats?
Night sweats are caused by excessive sweating during sleep (nocturnal). While there are many non-serious causes of night sweats, such as anxiety and sleep disturbances, there are also serious medical conditions, such as infection or cancer that can cause night sweats.
Common causes of night sweats include:
Night sweats can be caused by a number of factors. These include:
Night sweats are generally not dangerous, but should still be taken seriously since they can be a sign of a serious underlying condition.
How to treat night sweats?
Treatment of night sweats depends on the cause. If the night sweats do not go away after the cause is eliminated, you should speak to a doctor about treatment options.
Treatments may include:
How can you prevent night sweats?
The best way to prevent night sweats is to identify the underlying cause and eliminate this from your life as much as possible. In some cases, however, this may not be possible and you must manage the symptoms. If you suffer from night sweats as a result of anxiety, there are several things you can do to prevent or treat symptoms:
How to reduce anxiety and stress at night:
Some tips to help you sleep better and reduce your anxiety levels include:
1. Manage your time more effectively during the day.
Do not over-commit yourself with tasks. Avoid taking on too much work or other responsibilities at work, home or school.
2. Set your alarm to go to sleep at the same time every night, even on weekends.
Your body has a sleep cycle and if you do not allow it to complete this cycle, you will not feel well-rested even after 8 hours of sleep. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, weekend or weekday.
3. Avoid large meals close to bedtime.
Even if you are very hungry, do not eat 2-3 hours before bedtime.
4. Relax before bed.
Do not engage in stimulating activities such as video games or movies for at least an hour before bedtime.
5. Practice good sleeping habits.
A good way to do this is by going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, including on weekends. Go to bed only when you are drowsy, and if you still can’t fall asleep, get up and do something until you feel sleepy again, then return to bed.
6. Use your bed only for sleep and intimacy.
Do not watch TV, use the computer or engage in other activities in your bed. Your bed is for two things: sleep and intimacy.
7. Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet.
In addition, eliminate any other triggers, such as your bed being too soft or uncomfortable.
Manage your stress levels:
1. Try to avoid stressful situations and people who cause you anxiety if possible.
If you can’t avoid them, find a way to manage the situation and reduce your anxiety.
2. Try deep breathing exercises to help calm yourself when you feel stressed or anxious.
3. Exercising can help with relieving stress and anxiety.
How to manage your condition if you have a medical condition
1. If night sweats are a symptom of a medical condition you have, make sure you follow the treatment method for that condition.
If this doesn’t work, see a doctor for other options.
Sources & references used in this article:
The man with night sweats by T Gunn – 2010 – books.google.com
Prevalence and predictors of night sweats, day sweats, and hot flashes in older primary care patients: an OKPRN study by JW Mold, M Roberts… – The Annals of Family …, 2004 – Annals Family Med
Menopausal hot flushes and night sweats: where are we now? by DF Archer, DW Sturdee, R Baber, TJ de Villiers… – …, 2011 – Taylor & Francis
The prognostic implications of night sweats in two cohorts of older patients by JW Mold, F Lawler – The Journal of the American Board of …, 2010 – Am Board Family Med
‘You know I’ve joined your club… I’m the hot flush boy’: a qualitative exploration of hot flushes and night sweats in men undergoing androgen deprivation therapy for … by CU Eziefula, EA Grunfeld, MS Hunter – Psycho‐Oncology, 2013 – Wiley Online Library
Menopausal age and symptomatology in a general practice by B Thompson, SA Hart, D Durno – Journal of biosocial science, 1973 – cambridge.org
Case 4-2014: A 39-Year-Old Man with Night Sweats and Abdominal Pain by DP Hunt, VV Muse, A Ly – New England Journal of Medicine, 2014 – Mass Medical Soc
Men and women’s perceptions of hot flushes within social situations: Are menopausal women’s negative beliefs valid? by MJ Smith, E Mann, A Mirza, MS Hunter – Maturitas, 2011 – Elsevier