Sweat Playbook

Night Sweats: Should You Be Concerned?

by Dennis Madden
sweating at night
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You have probably woken up drenched in sweat at one point in your life. Maybe it was a nightmare, anxiety or you were too enthusiastic and buried yourself under 10 pounds of blankets. But what if you soak through your sheets regularly? True night sweats can be a symptom of a medical condition, and they're much different than going to bed hot and waking up with a little sweat on your brow.

Causes of Night Sweats

First, you have to understand the difference between symptomatic night sweats versus simply sleeping in an environment that's too hot. The difference is important. Night sweats may be a symptom of one of the conditions mentioned above. Sweating at night because it's July and your air conditioning is busted is a normal reaction.

Extreme sweating is related to a variety of conditions, like hot flashes resulting from hormone imbalances, infections and metabolic disorders, notes the Cleveland Clinic. Basically, something is tampering with your body's thermostat resulting in a maximal and misguided effort to cool itself. In many of these cases, especially in the more severe ones, excessive sweating will not be the only symptom. Are you in any pain that can't be explained? Soreness, fever, chills or excessive fatigue? Really you are looking for anything that is abnormal. No one knows you better than yourself.

Last but not least, according to the Mayo Clinic, extreme bouts of sweating throughout the night can be a symptom of some serious medical conditions, including multiple cancers, HIV/AIDS, and cardiac disorders, or they can be a side effect of certain medications. The point is not to scare you, but to encourage a conversation with your doctor following this article if you're concerned. The actual causes vary with each condition and can be physiologically complex.

Maybe You Just Need to Chill Out

Most people seem to prefer sleeping in cool temperatures, says the National Sleep Foundation. It's the secret reason why we love staying in hotels — guilt-free use of maximal AC! If you don't have a cool and cozy cave to crawl into, here are a few ideas you can try if you're uncomfortably hot at night. Although obvious, consider this first: Are you sleeping under too many blankets or are you wearing too much to bed? Kick off the comforter and shed your flannel PJs.

Not all homes are equipped with modern air conditioning and the price might be a barrier, but if you live in an area like the Midwest where you may only need to suffer a few months of unbearable heat, then consider a window unit for your room. Fans work too, and they come with the bonus in the form of white noise if you live in a full house or have rowdy neighbors. Finally, try taking a cool shower right before bed and consider using an antiperspirant with 24-hour (or longer) protection.

Take-Home Message

Try to cool down your environment by lowering the temperature or cutting down on some layers. As with anything worth perfecting, it'll take some experimentation, but a sweat-free night's sleep is totally worth it. If you are still concerned, especially if your sweating is accompanied by other symptoms like unexplainable aches, persistent fever or weakness, please go see your health care provider.

This article was brought to you by Colgate-Palmolive Company, the makers of Speed Stick products. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of the Colgate-Palmolive Company.

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