Chronic Conditions 6 MIN READ 148 VIEWS March 6, 2023

Night Sweats: Should You be Concerned?

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Night Sweats

Excessive perspiration is another name for night sweats which means continuous episodes of sweating during sleep. It can be very uncomfortable and unexplained for the most part but this condition may not be as harmless as everyone thinks.

If the sweats are heavy enough to soak all your clothes and bedding during sleep, it can be a sign indicating something serious. It is normal to sweat more during hot temperatures or if you are wearing too many layers of clothes. According to research, most people experience sweating during sleep. It is a simple bodily response that can be distinguished from similar conditions like flushing and hot flashes.

Often night sweats are followed by other symptoms like fever, cough, pain, weight loss, or diarrhoea. It is better to get diagnosed and treated accordingly.

Common Underlying Causes of Night Sweats

Many women, men, and children, generally face mild sweating at night. Some of the most common reasons for night sweats are:

1. Infections

Many infections can cause sweating while sleeping, ranging from mild fever viruses to severe life-threatening health problems. Some of these infections are:

  • Tuberculosis affects the lungs through the transmitted bacteria.
  • HIV infection is a chronic disorder that damages the immune system.
  • Endocarditis is a bacterial infection that leads to the inflammation of heart valves.
  • Osteomyelitis is a bacterial infection where bone inflammation occurs.
  • Brucellosis is a bacterial infection spread through animal or animal products.

Some general infections also cause moderate sweating at night while sleeping along with fever, chills, fatigue, and joint or muscle pains.

2. Cancer

Night Sweats are mostly associated with an early symptom of lymphoma cancer, even if it is rarely the case. There may also be other symptoms like fever and sudden weight loss at play. Leukaemia and prostate cancer may also trigger heavy sweating at night.

Cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgeries, and drugs may cause excessive perspiration.

3. Low Blood Pressure

Diabetic patients may experience night sweats as their medications, such as insulin or  sulfonylureas, lower the blood glucose, which triggers the adrenaline thereby causing sweating. Excess sweat production occurs due to lower blood pressure (hypoglycemia). The most common symptom of nocturnal hypoglycemia is immoderate night sweatings.

4. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

When the muscles related to the oesophagus stop working properly or are dysfunctional, there is an increase in sweating while sleeping along with an acid reflux. It rises to the oesophagus and causes a burning sensation near the heart, commonly called heartburn.

5. Hormonal Disorder

Rapid night sweating may also be an indicator of some hormonal disorders like:

  • Hyperthyroidism: excess thyroid hormones
  • Carcinoid syndrome: hormones produced through tumours of the lungs or gastrointestinal systems
  • Pheochromocytoma: catecholamine hormones overly produced by adrenal gland tumours

Other than overly sweating, the hormonal disorder can also get identified through shortness of breath, tremors, sleep issues, head or abdominal pains, and increased heart rate.

6. Anxiety

Anxious people tend to have a high level of sweating throughout their days as they experience different types of stress – physical or emotional. The increase in anxiety or stress can also lead to sweating at night while sleeping as a side effect of psychological pressures.

Other symptoms like tension, fear, sleep deprivation, a weakened immune system, and stomach aches can also follow sweaty nights.

7. Alcohol or Caffeine

Alcohol can very well be behind night sweats in most cases due to its adverse effects on the nervous system. It fluctuates heart rates, blood pressure, and body temperature, which triggers unregulated sweating. This excess night sweating may result from alcohol intolerance or sudden withdrawal.

Caffeine also has similar tendencies, which reflect sweating. Drinking caffeinated drinks before bed can also make you sleep-deprived.

8. Hyperhidrosis

Intensive physical activities, high temperatures, and warm clothes can be the daily reasons for night sweats. But sometimes, the nerves that trigger sweat glands are activated without any external factors. This condition appears without any specific cause. Sweating all over the body or in some particular area is seen during hyperhidrosis disorder.

Idiopathic hyperhidrosis disorder is more excessive perspirations that happen without any known reason. Secondary hyperhidrosis is the night sweats that are related to underlying medical conditions.

9. Certain Medications

Rapid sweats while sleeping can be a side effect of many medications. If the night sweats duration aligns with the start of your medicinal use, then it is probably to blame. Antidepressants are known to have night sweats side effects. Steroids like cortisone and prednisone might also have these effects. Common pain relievers and cough medicines can also trigger sweating.

10. Neurological Conditions

In rare cases, neurological conditions may precipitate a lot of sweating. It may occur as a reaction to these health disturbances. Neurological disorders like:

  • A stroke occurs when there is a blockage of blood supply to a part of the brain or blood vessels of the brain burst.
  • Autonomic dysreflexia is an abnormal nervous reaction to stimulations.
  • Autonomic neuropathy occurs when there is damage to the nervous system that handles automatic responses.

These issues can also set off other symptoms like loss of consciousness, reduced appetite, dizziness, weakness, etc.

Female Night Sweats Causes

After a certain age, women tend to experience many hormonal changes related to female reproduction, which also gives rise to night sweats as a byproduct.

1. Menopause/ Perimenopause

Every woman goes through a menopausal transition that affects their body for a long time. The warm waves may hit suddenly or develop over time. Hot flashes, night sweats, and flushing are some of the conditions that women go through during or before menopause. It may occur after menstruation has stopped for around 12 months.

The reduction of oestrogen and progesterone hormones activates these fluctuating conditions. The changes in hormones like the hypothalamus that regulates body heat get affected, which results in night sweats and hot flashes. People with primary ovarian insufficiency may also experience these conditions suffering due to similar reasons.

Other symptoms may include vaginal dryness, weight loss, weekend bones, mood swings, sudden body changes, etc.

2. Pregnancy

During pregnancy, hormonal levels fluctuate, which also results in night sweats. During the first and third trimesters, heavy night sweating is common. Even after the baby gets delivered, these hormonal changes need time to settle.

3. Menstrual Reaction

People who have menstruation may also face night sweats during periods as the oestrogen decreases. It is one of the symptoms other than cramps, mood changes, and muscle pains.

Male Night Sweats Causes

More frequently, men face some night sweats differently from women. It may correspond to certain gender-specific factors.

1. Lower Testosterone

It is common for most older men to have low levels of testosterone, known as male hypogonadism, which provides a higher sweating response. It can be just like the similar experience of hot flashes and night sweats in women but they get triggered by different hormones. Testosterone regulates sex drives and sperm production and also strengthens bones and muscles.

Other symptoms accompanying this condition are low energy, increased body fat, decreased libido, mood swings, etc.

2. Sleep Apnea

When the breathing stops involuntarily during sleep, it is called sleep apnea which has a greater chance of affecting men. It may occur multiple times during night sleep, so you may not have realised these conditions if alone. Obstructive sleep apnea is when tissues around your throat block the airways and central sleep apnea is when other medical conditions affect the nervous system to function smoothly.


Most people experience night sweats for simple reasons like drinking hot drinks or eating spicy food before sleeping. After eliminating all the practical reasons like bedding issues, sleepwear, and other external simulation, you can identify the internal problems. It is more important to figure out the real reasons behind these occurrences. Even if they are uncomfortable and annoying, these types of sweating may be a clear indicator of your health circumstances.
Men and women may face the same night sweats but under different circumstances. Children can also suffer from these conditions as a side effect or symptom. If you are soaking wet every night with sudden extreme adverse health changes, it may be the time to meet professionals. Night sweats for more than a few days or accompanied by severe pains may also need proper medical help from a specialist.

Frequently Asked Questions About Night Sweats

Night sweats can have underlying manifestations of common infections to serious health conditions. Night sweats with other symptoms like fever, weight loss, and pain can mean dangerous health disorders.

It’s important to see a medical professional when night sweats are accompanied by other threatening symptoms that would make sleeping uncomfortable.

Excessively sweating each night with soaking clothes or bedding and sleep deprivation can be considered abnormal.

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