If you’re consistently waking up in the middle of the night drenched in your own sweat, you’re likely suffering from sleep hyperhidrosis. Sleep hyperhidrosis is a medical term for “night sweats,” a condition that entails repeated episodes of extreme sweating that often soaks through clothes and sheets.
Getting overheated from sleeping under thick blankets or turning your heater too high wouldn’t be considered sleep hyperhidrosis. In those cases, your perspiration is likely connected to your bedroom environment and not with an actual medical condition.
Causes of night sweats
Again, true night sweats involve severe hot flashes that are not environment-related. The causes of night sweats may include:
- Infections (tuberculosis is the most common infection associated with night sweats)
- Idiopathic hyperhidrosis (a condition in which the body chronically perspires excessively without any exact medical cause)
- Medications (i.e. antidepressants, psychiatric drugs, aspirin, acetaminophen, and many other drugs)
- Hormone disorders (i.e. pheochromocytoma, carcinoid syndrome, and hyperthyroidism)
- Hypoglycemia (aka low blood sugar)
- Neurological conditions (ie. autonomic dysreflexia, posttraumatic syringomyelia, stroke, and autonomic neuropathy)
- Cancers (lymphoma is the most common cancer associated with night sweats)
When to be concerned by night sweats
In many cases, night sweats aren’t a cause for concern. They can be alleviated by methods such as keeping your bedroom cool and ventilated, avoiding sweat triggers (i.e. spicy foods, cigarettes and alcohol), using breathable sheets and light quilts, and/or trying a cool shower before bedtime.
However, if you think your night sweats are caused by serious infection, cancer or a neurologic condition, you should mention them to your healthcare provider. Moreover, if your night sweats are accompanied by unexplained weight loss, high fever and chills, body aches and pains, diarrhea or stomach pain, and/or chronic or bloody cough, seek medical attention immediately.
Whether your night sweats are becoming bothersome or they’re linked with a more serious health issue, your doctor will help you come up with an effective treatment plan for your specific situation.