Getting good, uninterrupted sleep is critical to your wellness. Sleep can drastically improve your mood, boost energy and productivity, reset your metabolism and even affect your ability to fight disease. But achieving those golden eight hours of sleep is difficult if you keep waking up in the middle of the night, soaked in sweat.
Anyone who’s experienced night sweats is familiar with this routine: Fall asleep. Wake up sweating a few hours later. Begrudgingly get out of bed, peel off your damp pajamas and put a clean set of sheets on your bed.
Not only is dealing with night sweats annoying, it can also rob you of good, restful sleep. However, there are ways to stay cool while you sleep. We’ll break down the seven main causes of those irritating night sweats and the best treatments to help you sleep through the night. (For better sleep, you can also read about our favorite mattresses and pillows of the year.)
Read also: These Habits Are Wrecking Your Sleep Schedule
What causes night sweats? 7 potential reasons
The easy answer would be that your AC isn’t set low enough, but people who sweat in their sleep no matter what the temperature is (hi, hello) know it’s not that simple.
When you feel like you’ve tried everything — from frigid AC temps and fans on full blast to “cooling sheets” and sleeping in the nude — but nothing has worked, you may want to give up and accept daily sheet-changing as your destiny.
Not so fast: The first step to solving any health-related condition is understanding the cause. From there, you can work with a health professional or try home remedies to eliminate the symptom.
Night sweats can come about for a ton of reasons, really. Here are some of the most common:
1. Your bedding
Your sleep setup might honestly be the problem. Your sheets, mattress pad, pillows and mattress itself may be causing you to sweat at night. Look into cooling or temperature-regulating sheets — best-case scenario is you solve your night sweats; worst-case scenario is you get some nice new sheets.
2. Hormonal changes
When your hormone levels fluctuate wildly or are just going through a period of change, you might sweat at night. A common example? Women going through menopause. One of the unpleasant symptoms of menopause is night sweats, and it’s largely due to the decreasing levels of estrogen in a woman’s body. Pregnancy and menstrual cycles may also influence your body’s core temperature at night. For men, low testosterone might contribute.
Some prescription medications may cause you to sweat at night. If you’re on any prescriptions, ask your doctor if night sweats are a side effect.
4. Medical conditions
Likewise, many medical conditions can cause night sweats. According to Mayo Clinic, that includes hyperthyroidism, anxiety disorders, autoimmune disorders, sleep apnea, drug addictions, neurological conditions and more. Viral infections can also cause night sweats due to a fever.
Since we’re talking about sweat, hyperhidrosis — excessive sweating — deserves a special call-out. If you tend to excessively sweat during the day and at night, you may consider talking to your doctor about this condition and whether or not you could have it.
High levels of stress can manifest as physical symptoms, including night sweats. Stress-induced night sweats may be accompanied by scary nightmares or stressful dreams, rapid breathing, elevated heart rate and trouble falling asleep because of worries or anxiety.
7. Alcohol and diet
Drinking alcohol before bed can cause you to sweat at night, because alcohol affects your nervous system functioning and your core body temperature. While there’s little evidence to suggest that food alone can cause night sweats, it’s thought that certain types of food, especially spicy and high-fat foods, can make preexisting night sweats worse.
How to stop sweating during your sleep: 4 solutions
Tara Youngblood, a sleep expert and founder of Chili Technology (appropriately, a manufacturer of temperature-controlled bed accessories), says that ending night sweats for good is about attacking the root cause. Here, she offers tips for four of the most common causes of night sweats.
1. Take a second look at your mattress
“Your body is an engine,” Youngblood says. “It is constantly giving off heat while you sleep, [and] there are some materials that actually increase your body temperature while you sleep.” She points to foam as a common culprit, noting that some foam mattresses can reflect heat back to you, causing you to sweat more.
Read more: How to Tell if Your Mattress and Pillows are Ruining Your Sleep
2. Consider your blankets and comforters, too
“Make sure your covers aren’t working against you,” Youngblood says. “Your blankets could be restricting you from cooling off by blocking out the cool air your fan or AC is bringing.”
When you sleep under covers, you create a “cave” for your body to sleep in, Youngblood says, and it’s important to make sure that your cave stays cold with cooling blankets or airy materials.
3. Shift the temperature in your room
Make sure you are lowering the temperature in your room before bed. This activates your body to naturally cool down. If your room stays the same temperature all day, your body will become accustomed to the temperature and not lower in your sleep. If you’re unable to lower the temperature of your room, take a cool or cold shower.
4. Refrain from alcohol or heavy meals before bed
Alcohol and dense food before bed can crank up the heat at night, too, Youngblood says. Try to avoid both a few hours before bed to encourage your core body temperature to lower, which will reduce sweating during sleep.
More sleep tips
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.