If you’ve ever woken up with your pajamas and sheets soaked with sweat, despite a perfectly comfortable bedroom temperature, then you’re well acquainted with the discomfort of night sweats. Despite suffering from these unpleasant fits, though, most people don’t really understand what causes them – or what to do about them. Luckily, by gaining a better sense of what may be causing your night sweats, you can devise a management plan that meets your particular needs.
What Are Night Sweats?
Hyperhidrosis is a condition characterized by excessive sweating that affects 2-3% of the population and can be a lifelong problem. In fact, it typically develops either around puberty, when it involves the palms and soles of the feet, or in later adolescence, in cases involving the armpits. Typical cases of hyperhidrosis, however, just occur during the day, while night sweats are a unique manifestation present only during sleep.
One of the major differences between night sweats and daytime hyperhidrosis is that, while there are some potential underlying causes of daytime hyperhidrosis, night sweats are more likely to be caused by serious illness – though they can be idiopathic. Night sweats also tend to impact the entire body, not just the armpits, palms, or soles of the feet, which is why you wake up to find your entire bed damp.
Considering the Causes
Night sweats can be caused by a variety of conditions, but the most common – and an especially benign reason – is the start of menopause. In fact, about 75% of perimenopausal and menopausal women experience occasional night sweats due to hot flashes during sleep. This is remarkable since, generally speaking, only about 3% of the population otherwise experiences night sweats.
Outside of menopause, other causes of night sweats include certain infections, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), certain cardiovascular conditions, and even anxiety. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can also cause night sweats and those with the condition are actually three times more likely to experience this phenomenon than the general population.
Perhaps most concerningly, night sweats may also be an early sign of cancers such as lymphoma and leukemia. This happens because, as with infectious activity, the immune system is triggered to fight the cancer and may actually cause fever-like symptoms overnight. It’s important to note, however, that these periods of inflammatory activity may not be with associated with a measurable fever.
Finally, night sweats may be caused by endocrine conditions – this is why they’re so common during menopause. Many women also experience night sweats during pregnancy, but it can also indicate other endocrinological conditions, like diabetes and thyroid disorders.
Managing Night Sweats
If you’re experiencing night sweats on a regular basis, you’re probably feeling frustrated – and doing a lot of laundry – but there’s a number of things you can do to reduce the severity of your symptoms. The best solutions will depend in part on the cause of your night sweats, but most of these strategies will help with symptoms regardless of the source.
To minimize night sweats, the first thing you should do is address your sleep environment. Avoid heavy blankets and restrictive clothing and instead wear pajamas made from loose, natural materials. It can also help to turn down the heat in your room. One of the challenges many people with night sweats experience is that they are comfortable during the day and even when they get into bed, so you may not be inclined to adjust your thermostat. However, people usually sleep better in cooler rooms, so while a lower temperature may seem chilly at first, you’ll likely find it helps you sleep soundly.
Another step you can take to put an end to night sweats is to start using cooling technologies. For example, our Cooling Gel pillow doesn’t absorb heat so your head won’t get too hot while you’re sleeping. We’ve all been there – flipping the pillow over, and flipping it again because we want to lay on the cool side. This pillow puts an end to that, and it’s made from memory foam, for optimal comfort. Or, for a full body cool, our Gel Fusion mattress topper offers a similar experience and can make your current mattress more comfortable.
Using temperature-controlling bed coverings has been shown to significantly improve sleep quality, specifically in women going through menopause. In a study by the North American Menopause Society, as reported by the International Hyperhidrosis Society, 83-94% of women experienced better sleep, as well as improved mood and better familial relationships. While this study was specific to menopausal women, using this type of bed covering can help anyone experiencing night sweats sleep better, even if it doesn’t eliminate them.
While cultivating a cooler sleep environment will benefit anyone with night sweats, there’s a growing array of products targeted specifically at women going through menopause. One such product that’s catching on are cooling wristbands, such as Pebl, Grace, and Embr. These wrist bands are designed to help women manage their body temperature at night. However, with such a simple mechanism, many others could benefit from these devices and some individuals with autonomic dysfunction even use them to manage their temperature during the day. Certainly, for women going through menopause, a wrist band is a less invasive approach to symptom management than HRT.
Finally, anyone experiencing night sweats should consider monitoring their symptoms to identify potential triggers. Many people find that drinking caffeine late in the day or eating spicy foods can trigger night sweats, as can smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Certain medications, including treatments used to reduce fever, can also cause night sweats, so ask your doctor if that’s a side effect of any of your current treatments. Changing to a different prescription may minimize your symptoms.
Stop Suffering and Start Sleeping
Night sweats can severely disrupt your sleep, but at Perfect Cloud Mattress, we believe that you don’t have to suffer in silence. Our products are designed to create the most comfortable sleep environment possible, emphasizing temperature neutral rest and stress-releasing memory foam, with unique solutions for every individual. Learn more about Perfect Cloud Mattress products today and start sleeping soundly.