Written on August 12, 2023 by Gillian Singer, MPH, Sexuality Educator & Certified Sexologist. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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According to the Mayo Clinic, night sweats are repeated episodes of very heavy sweating during sleep, heavy enough to soak your nightclothes or bedding. They're often caused by an underlying condition or illness.
Sweating is completely normal and is a necessary bodily function that regulates body temperature.
Though night sweats can also be caused by sleeping with too many blankets or in a room that is too hot, these reasons are not considered “night sweats,” despite happening at night. Other practical reasons include eating spicy food before bed, consuming hot beverages before bed, hot weather, and exercising before bed.
Night sweats can be caused by any number of things including but not limited to medications, lifestyle choices, illnesses, or health conditions. Even stress can cause night sweats. Hyperhidrosis is a condition in which the body excessively sweats for no apparent reason.
The most common cause of night sweats for people assigned female at birth (AFAB) is hormonal changes like the ones that occur during pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), perimenopause, and menopause. The Cleveland Clinic explains that by changing hormone levels during perimenopause and menopause, it will likely cause your hypothalamus (the part of the brain that controls your body heat) to have trouble regulating your body temperature. Think of it as a glitch in your body’s internal thermostat. You may feel sudden warmth or a flush in your face, neck, and chest. In response, your body tries to cool itself by sweating too much.”
Here are a few frequently asked questions about night sweats.
If you notice night sweats when you haven’t had them before, one thing to check is your medications. Have you started taking any new medications recently?
Medications that are known to cause night sweats and excessive sweating include, but are not limited to the following list [3,4]:
Many illnesses and disorders can cause night sweats. Consult the following list as outlined by The Mayo Clinic :
Night sweats aren’t typically considered common or prominent side effects of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The only likely STD that may cause night sweats is human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Even then, “Night sweats on their own aren’t usually a symptom of HIV. In fact, it’s very rare for night sweats to be the only symptom a person with HIV will have.” If your night sweats were a sign of HIV, you would likely have an accompanying fever, chills, joint pain, diarrhea, sudden unintentional weight loss, and/or swollen lymph nodes. Night sweats may occur when an HIV infection has progressed to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Night sweats often are no cause for concern. However, you are recommended to seek medical attention if you develop night sweats that happen frequently, disturb your sleep, or are accompanied by other symptoms. Night sweats that occur with a high fever, cough, or unexplained weight loss may be a sign of a serious medical condition.
A few lifestyle changes may help you manage night sweats. Consider the following :