Night sweats are episodes of excessive perspiration during sleep, intense enough to drench your clothes and bedding. It’s a common symptom during menopause. According to statistics, most menopausal women experience hot flashes and night sweats. However, menopause is not the sole cause of night sweats in women; multiple other conditions can trigger the problem. Other times, the sweating can be normal, e.g., if your bedroom is unusually hot or you wear too heavy clothes to bed.
Continue reading to learn about night sweats, including some main causes and prevention.
Why Do Night Sweats Occur During Menopause?
Menopausal transition sets in between 45 and 55 years, though it can start earlier in some women and lasts for 7 to 14 years. During this period, the ovaries produce lesser hormones (estrogen, progesterone). These hormonal fluctuations disrupt how the brain controls body temperature, leading to feeling hot and sweaty at nighttime.
A night sweat episode is often characterized by a sudden heat wave that spreads throughout the body, triggering excessive perspiration, rapid heartbeat, and sometimes, reddening of the skin.
What Are the 7 Main Causes of Night Sweats?
Menopause is not the sole cause of night sweats in women. Multiple other factors can trigger an episode, including medical conditions and lifestyle choices.
Here are seven leading causes of drenching sweating during sleep.
- Hormonal changes – Fluctuating hormones, e.g., during menopause, can trigger hot flashes and sweaty outbreaks. Other hormonal changes can also cause night sweats, such as during pregnancy or the menstrual cycle (premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)).
- Alcohol and diet – Taking alcohol and eating spicy or fatty food before bedtime can also result in episodes.
- Medical conditions and infections – There are multiple health conditions and infections that can trigger excessive night sweating, such as obstructive sleep apnea, cancer (e.g., lymphoma, leukemia), gastroesophageal reflux disease, HIV, Tuberculosis, osteomyelitis (bones inflammation), obesity, endocarditis (heart valves inflammation), rheumatoid arthritis, hyperthyroidism, etc.
- Idiopathic hyperhidrosis – Also known as primary hyperhidrosis, the condition is characterized by excessive sweating without any trigger or underlying condition.
- Premature ovarian insufficiency – Some women experience premature ovarian insufficiency, a condition whereby their ovaries stop working normally before age 40. This causes menopausal symptoms, including night sweats.
- Medications – Taking certain drugs can cause night sweats, such as antidepressants, hypertension drugs, antiretrovirals, hypoglycemia drugs, etc.
- Behavioral health conditions – Stress, anxiety, panic disorder, and other behavioral health conditions can also lead to night sweats.
Another possible cause of night sweats though less common, is neurologic conditions like stroke, neuropathy, syringomyelia, and autonomic dysreflexia.
There are multiple methods of prevention, depending on the cause. For instance:
- Hormonal therapy replacement can help treat hormonal-triggered sweating.
- Eliminating triggers, e.g., avoiding alcohol/spicy food/smoking before bedtime, wearing light and loose clothes to bed, and keeping your bedroom cool.
- Meditating before bedtime can help relieve night sweat-triggering stress and anxiety.
- Regular exercise during the day can reduce the severity of night sweats.
- Seeking treatment for any underlying conditions triggering excessive sweating can also help prevent the episodes.
If you’re experiencing menopausal-related night sweats, we encourage you to talk to one of our physicians by filling out the form below for a free consultation.