If you’re waking up a lot damper than you’d like, then you're part of the 10% of people who regularly suffer from night sweats in the UK. Medically speaking, night sweats are severe episodes of excessive sweating that can drench your pjs and even your sheets on a fairly regular basis. Concerning? Yes – and quite frankly less than ideal from a practical perspective. Night sweat causes can be as simple as your heating being on a little too high or having a particular heart pounding nightmare however, sometimes the root cause can be a little more complex. Turns out like with many things sleep related there are a ton of different potential causes from the mundane to some health conditions.
More often than not if you’re sweating at night, your body’s natural temperature regulation system is disrupted, and these could be the reasons why…
- You’re simply too darn hot.
Whilst it might feel amazing to be wrapped up in thick pjs, socks and a high tog duvet our bodies actually sleep better at a slightly cooler temperature. Layering on the layers at night can be counterproductive and raise your body’s resting temperature beyond its optimal level causing you to wake up in order to rectify the issue. READ: take some layers off! This also goes for those of you who like to whack that thermostat up as the sun sets. Having the house warm and toasty is fantastic for when you’re up and about in the evening but when it’s time to hit the heigh the temperature to reach for is between 18 and 22 degrees at a maximum. Closely linked to body temperature is exercising too close to bedtime. Whilst we absolutely recommend (and applaud) those of you fitting in a stress busting work out last thing at night, it might not be the best thing for your sleep patterns. When we exercise, the body temperature rises and depending on how long you leave it before climbing into bed your body might have enough time to cool itself down (thermoregulate) causing you to sweat during the night as it tries to cool off. This is especially common when combined with a hot shower, at least we hope you’re showering before bed after working out…
- The wrong things are on the menu.
Sadly, not all dinner ingredients are created equal in the sleep stakes. Unfortunately, if you’re eating or drinking alcohol and spicy foods before bed you could be setting yourself up for a fall. Alcohol can interfere with many of the body’s natural processes and regulation cycles, one of them being temperature which as we’ve already established is crucial for restorative sleep. Your favourite tipple has an annoying habit of increasing your heart rate and dilating your blood vessels which all contribute to increased sweat gland activity. Spice isn’t always nice, especially not before bed due to similar reasons of messing with your internal temperature. So, in the interests of keeping night sweats at bay, step away from the vindaloo and singha beer *sobs*.
- You’re having nightmares.
With anxiety and stress levels being at an all time high during the pandemic it’s no surprise that the number of people suffering nightmares (or even night terrors) is on the rise. If you’re one of the unlucky ones, you’ll know that you’re much more likely to wake up sweaty and with a racing heart as your body struggles to differentiate between a perceived threat in your dream or an actual one in real life. Practicing a dedicated and consistent sleep ritual before bed can be one way of soothing an overactive mind, leading to less nightmares and more restorative ZZ’s overall.
- You’re dealing with massive hormonal changes!
Oh, the glamour mother nature throws at us! Be it you’re pregnant, have just had your baby or going through the menopause all these big life events come with one thing in common – huge hormonal shifts! These fluctuating hormone levels can raise adrenaline and your body temperature at the same time leading to excessive sweating. Unfortunately, there’s not a huge amount that can be done to combat these biological changes but as always, try to control the controllable. Make sure your bedroom environment is set up to be as optimal as possible i.e., not too hot to start with!
- You’re dealing with a medical condition.
Chances are if you’re in this category you’re already aware of what’s causing your night sweats. Some types of conditions and their medications such as: sleep apnea, hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), obesity, internal infections, a fever or even cancer can cause night sweats and is something that can be chatted through with your doctor.
THE BOTTOM LINE…
What can we do about it?! Remember what we said earlier about controlling the controllables?! Turn that thermostat down, workout in the morning (where possible), make sensible food choices as often as you can and try to reduce as much stress from your routine as possible.