There are certain times during the year when we become accustomed to having hot and sweaty nights. In the heat of summer, most of us struggle to get our eight hours, as we toss and turn while cursing the lack of air conditioning or its ineffectiveness. The feeling of waking up bathed in a film of sweat is not a pleasant one; it’s often enough to make us wish fall would hurry up and arrive, already.

However, there are times when it’s cold out and you still wake up sweating. Or, during summer, it’s not a “thin layer” of sweat, but more like a poltergeist has thrown a bucket of water over you during your slumber. Rather than being related to issues around the heat of the room, the call – so to speak – could be coming from inside the house: it’s you that’s sweating and for no external reason.


Many of us find ourselves struggling with “night sweats” whatever the weather, and there are a variety of health issues that can cause them. However, it’s first important to ascertain the difference between feeling sticky between the sheets and a full blown night sweat.

Night Sweats Are Extreme

Night sweats, diagnostically speaking, are far more extreme than sweating that is caused by external or environmental factors. If you wake up a little bit hot and uncomfortable, then it’s probably the season or your bedding that is the problem. Try introducing a fan at night or switching to bedding that is made of more breathable materials, such as cotton.

Night sweats will be severe enough to feel more like you’ve been soaked rather than just drizzled with sweat. With clinical night sweats, you’ll sweat to the point where you could wring your clothes out of a morning and they’d still be damp to the touch. You’d have to change your bedding, sometimes more than once per night.

So What Causes Them?

As with many health conditions, there are a variety of reasons why you could find yourself sweating up a storm when you should be sleeping. As always, you should consult with your doctor if you have a symptom that concerns you, but here are a few guides on the conditions you should be focusing on eliminating.

Hyperactive Thyroid

An overactive thyroid gland (known as hyperthyroid) can be the cause of night sweats, especially if you have a sudden onset. Other symptoms include weight loss and itchiness. Hyperthyroid is relatively common but the good news is, it’s also very treatable. A doctor will usually perform a blood test to monitor your thyroid levels and then prescribe treatment from there.

Viral Illness


There are a number of viruses that can cause night sweats. Some have names, such as influenza, glandular fever or even HIV and other STIs, whereas others can cause symptoms without you ever having much idea of what the problem was. Sweating and a fever are the primary signs to look out for. Some viruses can be diagnosed with testing; for example, you could consult with the likes of for HIV and other STIs, or your general practitioner will be able to run tests for glandular fever. If the results are positive, then treatment options should be able to reduce the occurrence of night sweats.

Hormonal Changes

We often associate the menopause with ‘hot flashes’, which can of course occur at night and cause night sweats. However, it’s not just the menopause that can cause overheated nights – any hormonal change could be responsible. For example, if you’re pregnant, just began a new method of birth control, or have a condition such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, then night sweats could be a primary symptom. You can do a pregnancy test at home, or talk to your doctor to rule out any other hormonal causes.

Medication Side Effects


A number of medications have been known to cause night sweats, so if you just started a new course of something then that should be your prime suspect. Drugs used to treat diabetes, certain antidepressant medications, or even simple aspirin can cause you to sweat at night. Speak to your prescribing doctor and they should be able to guide you in the right direction.

Certain Cancers

It would be remiss not to mention the fact that certain cancers can cause night sweats, particularly lymphatic and blood cancers. These are often accompanied by a number of other symptoms – including weight loss and fatigue – though they won’t always be painful. Usually, a doctor will try and rule out other causes – as they are far more likely – rather than testing you for these cancers, so it’s important to discuss the issue with a doctor.


We all know that one of the major physical symptoms of anxiety is clammy hands, so the link between anxiety and sweating is already well-established. If you struggle to sleep due to anxiety, then spending the night tossing and turning in a panicked state is liable to cause night sweats. There’s also the fact that antidepressant medications are often used to manage anxiety and, as mentioned above, these alone can cause night sweats. Speak with your doctor or try some self-soothing techniques such as those mentioned on if you think this may be the issue.

How Do You Cope With Night Sweats?


If you have a diagnosis, that doesn’t necessarily mean your time struggling with night sweats is over. Medication may take the time to have an effect, or it might just be something you have to live with.

Coping with night sweats is all about management. This can involve techniques like keeping the room cool, sleeping with little clothing or bedding, and ensuring that air is always circulating in the room. You might also want to invest in bed linings that are waterproof, so the problem doesn’t mean you are constantly having to buy new mattresses.

Hopefully, the situation will be temporary and you’ll be able to return to a peaceful – and dry – night of sleep in the near future.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This div height required for enabling the sticky sidebar