Do night sweats disrupt your sleep? Sweating at night isn’t really a sleep disorder, but there’s no doubt that waking up with nightclothes and bedding soaked with perspiration can disturb your nighttime slumber.
One cause of night sweats or nocturnal hydrosis is menopause. Research published in 2017 found that menopausal women reported significantly poorer sleep quality compared to non-menopausal women. Of course, if you are a man, this doesn’t apply and, believe it or not, it doesn’t necessarily apply if you are a woman, either.
There are many causes of night sweats. Eating spicy food or drinking a hot beverage before bedtime can bring on a night sweat. Heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease is another possible cause. So is a bedroom that’s too hot or sleeping under too many blankets.
Other causes of night sweats
Since we are dealing with sleep disorders, it should be noted that one cause of night sweats is obstructive sleep apnea. If you snore, suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness or are overweight, and you also suffer from night sweats, consider the possibility of sleep apnea.
If you are a woman and going through menopause, don’t take it for granted that your night sweats are caused by menopause. The hormonal changes taking place in your body — the reduction in estrogen and progesterone — can also cause or aggravate sleep apnea.
Night sweats are also an acknowledged side effect of a number of medications including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), thyroid hormone supplements, corticosteroids, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
How to tackle night sweats
If you suffer from night sweats, the first step is to try to determine the cause. Talk to your doctor. Ask about any medication you’re taking, and have a thorough examination to try to determine the underlying cause.
It’s also worth eliminate anything in your lifestyle that might be causing your night sweats. Try reducing your alcohol consumption and avoid overly spicy food.
Try to keep your bedroom cool and well-ventilated. If weather permits, leave the window open, or try using a fan. Sleeping naked may help keep your temperature down during the night, too. Instead of wearing pajamas, try sleeping under a duvet and keep a few blankets nearby. If you get cold during the night you can simply grab an extra blanket. If you feel warm, you can toss one (or more) aside.
Making your bed each day and sleeping in a bedroom free of clutter can also help improve sleep. Choosing the right bedding could help keep your temperature down during the night. Some mattresses, particularly those made from latex or memory foam, can trap body heat. This can make hot flashes and night sweats more intense. Try a traditional inner-spring mattress instead.
Research has found that exercise and yoga may help reduce the sleep disturbances associated with menopausal hot flashes. Women who practiced 90 minutes of yoga over a 12-week period or attended three aerobic exercise classes each week for 12-weeks enjoyed small improvements in sleep quality and reduced insomnia severity.
Finally, the North American Menopause Society recommends cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as an effective nonhormone treatment for hot flashes and night sweats. CBT normally involves sleep education, sleep restriction therapy, and stimulus control. It also helps correct unhelpful thoughts and beliefs about sleep.
Summing it up
- Night sweats are a symptom, not a disorder. Determine what’s causing your night sweats.
- Cut down on alcohol.
- Avoid overly spicy food.
- Sleep in a cool room.
- Sleep with the window open if the weather permits, or use a fan.
- Take a cool shower just before bedtime.
- Change your nightwear and any bedding, if necessary.
- One cause of night sweats is menopause. Ask your doctor about hormone replacement.
- Another cause of night sweats is sleep apnea. If this is a possibility, a sleep study may be required.
- CBT may be an option. If you can’t afford a therapist, try an evidence-based CBT self-help book.
- Eat a balanced diet and try to exercise regularly.