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Night sweats

Waking up during the night drenched in perspiration is a night sweat. Night sweats are much more than simply being too hot in your bed.

Summary introduction

Night sweats are episodes of excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) while asleep, that leave you, your nightwear and your bedding soaking wet.

Night sweats can affect people of all ages – adults and children.

They often go away without the need for treatment but if you’re worried, see your GP.

Causes of night sweats

In some cases, there’s no particular reason for night sweats. However, they can be a symptom of several conditions.

The most common causes of excessive sweating at night are:

  • Menopause
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Side effects of certain medications, including some anti-depressants and painkillers
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) – you’re at a higher risk of developing low blood sugar if you have diabetes
  • Substance/alcohol abuse or withdrawal

Occasionally, night sweats can be a symptom of a serious underlying health condition, such as malaria, Hodgkin’s disease and cancer.

Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about symptoms

You can book an appointment with a Spire private GP today.

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Getting a diagnosis for night sweats

If night sweats are regularly disturbing your sleep and, as a result, you’re suffering from fatigue, see your GP.

You should also make an appointment with your GP if, along with night sweats, you also have:

  • A very high temperature and/or feel feverish
  • A cough
  • Regular bouts of diarrhoea
  • Unintentional weight loss

Your GP will ask about your general health and any family history of excessive sweating or night sweats. They may arrange tests to check for any underlying reasons for your sweating and, if required, will arrange appropriate treatment.

Treatments for night sweats

In many cases, medical treatment isn’t required for night sweats. To manage excessive sweating at night, try:

  • Losing any excess weight
  • Relieving anxiety or stress by taking time to relax throughout the day
  • Wearing loose fitting night clothes and using bedding made from natural materials
  • Keeping your bedroom cool
  • Avoiding possible triggers such as alcohol, spicy foods and caffeine, especially in the evening

Your GP or consultant may be able to suggest other ways to control excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) at night.

If your night sweats are menopausal, they may discuss treatment to relieve symptoms of the menopause, including HRT.

If your night sweats are a side effect of medication, your doctor may change your medication or alter the dosage.

If anxiety is causing your night sweats, you may be referred for anxiety treatment, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).