Key Takeaways

  • Many things can cause you to sweat at night, including menopause, medications, infections, sleep disorders, stress, and your sleep environment. 
  • If you are sweating at night often and it is affecting your sleep, experts recommend talking to your healthcare provider.
  • To get relief from sweating at night, try lowering your bedroom temperature, wearing loose and lightweight clothing, and avoiding sweat triggers like spicy foods or alcohol before you go to sleep.

Sweating is normal and one of the main ways that your body stays cool. Whether you’re doing a hard workout or tanning outside on a hot summer day, sweating is a normal, expected response to your daily activities.

But you may find yourself sweating at unexpected and relatively inactive times—like when you’re in bed trying to sleep at night.

Here’s what experts say about the causes of night sweats, including when to talk to your healthcare provider about them and how to get relief if you’re sweating in your sleep.

What Causes Night Sweats?

Margarita Oks, MD, a pulmonologist and the associate director of the Sleep Center at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York told Verywell that sweating in your sleep is also called “night sweats.”

This nighttime sweating is defined as episodes of very heavy sweating while you’re sleeping—even to the point where the sweating soaks your clothes and bedding.

There are a few things that cause night sweats. Here’s a rundown of the most common causes of sweating at night.


Denise Pate, MD, a board-certified physician and medical director with Medical Offices of Manhattan, told Verywell that during menopause, people go through major changes in their bodies’ production of hormones like estrogen and progesterone.

These hormonal changes lead many menopausal people to have changes in their body temperatures which lead to symptoms like hot flashes, excessive sweating, and night sweats. 


According to Oks, some medications have sweating as a possible side effect.

Common medications that can cause you to break out into a sweat at night include antidepressants, pain relievers, diabetes medications, and steroids.


Pate said that several infections and illnesses can also cause night sweats, including HIV, fungal infections, osteomyelitis (a bone infection), endocarditis (an infection of the heart’s inner lining), and tuberculosis (a bacterial disease of the lungs).


In people with an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), the gland makes more thyroid hormone than what the body needs.

According to Pate, when the thyroid gland is pumping out too much thyroid hormone and working too hard, it can raise the body’s temperature and metabolism, which can cause people to sweat. 


Pate said that sweating at night can be a symptom of certain types of cancers or a side effect of cancer treatments.

For example, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and leukemia are types of cancers that often cause night sweating.

Sleep Apnea

According to Pate, people with sleep apnea—a serious sleep disorder that causes their breathing to stop or get very shallow while they're asleep—may have night sweats because of the extra effort that’s needed to breathe at night.

Anxiety and Stress

When you’re feeling mentally anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed, you may have physical symptoms of anxiety, too.

For example, emotional stress can lead to an increase in your heart rate and respiration. If you are feeling emotional stress before bed, Pate said it can also cause sweating while you’re asleep.


Lifestyle behaviors like what you eat and drink before bed can also make you more likely to get night sweats.

For instance, if you have an alcoholic beverage before bedtime, Pate said your body will try to metabolize the alcohol, which can make you sweat while you sleep.


Oks said there are several things in your living space that can make you more or less likely to get sweaty at night, like the temperature in your bedroom, the material of your pajamas, and the number of blankets on your bed.

How Common Is Sweating at Night?

Since many people do not tell their providers that they’re sweating at night, there have not been a lot of research studies on night sweating in the general population. Pate said it’s difficult to say exactly how many people experience night sweats.

However, Pate also said it’s probably not that uncommon or even unexpected—especially if the room that you’re sleeping in is too hot if you’re using too many blankets, or if you’re wearing several layers of clothing to bed.

“Night sweats are estimated to affect up to 41% of menopausal women and up to 80% of people with certain medical conditions such as tuberculosis and lymphoma,” Pate said.

Research has found that night sweats are influenced by such factors as age, sex/gender, medical issues, and medications. Air quality can also play a role.

How to Get Relief From Night Sweats

If your night sweats are not getting in the way of your daily life or sleep quality, Pate and Oks said that there are some changes that you can make to your sleep environment and daytime lifestyle that may help.

Here are some expert-recommended tips to get relief from night sweats: 

  • Keep your bedroom cool. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends a room temperature of 68 degrees for sleeping, but some people may be more comfortable with a higher or lower temperature.
  • Use a fan or crack open a window. Using a fan or opening the window can help circulate the air and keep your bedroom and body cool while you sleep.
  • Wear clothing that’s made from breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics. Loose, lightweight clothes that are made from breathable materials such as cotton or bamboo can help you stay cool and dry at night. 
  • Use moisture-wicking bedding. Sheets, pillowcases, and mattress covers made from moisture-wicking materials like bamboo or linen can sop up any moisture and prevent heat retention. 
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to help regulate your body temperature and reduce the risk of dehydration, which can worsen night sweats. 
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods before bed. Avoid foods and drinks that can raise your body temperature and make you sweat, especially late in the day or close to bedtime.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Stress and anxiety can cause night sweats. Practicing relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga can help reduce stress and improve sleep quality.

When To See a Provider for Night Sweats

If you’re only getting night sweats occasionally and it’s not disrupting your sleep or life quality, it may not be a reason to worry.

But if the above adjustments don’t help and your night sweats seem to be getting worse or more frequent, it’s time to see your provider, especially if it’s affecting your ability to sleep.

“If night sweating is acute in onset (started suddenly), quickly progressive, and is associated with other symptoms then this should be discussed with a physician sooner rather than later,” said Oks. “If night sweating is associated with environmental conditions, then this is not as concerning and can be managed independently.”

Either way, seeing your provider is the first step to figuring out what’s causing them and getting relief.

What This Means For You

Night sweats can be common and are often a sign that something about your sleep environment is making you too hot—for example, your bedroom is too warm or you’re sleeping in clothes or bedding that’s not letting your body cool off.

However, sweating at night can also be a symptom of an underlying health condition or even a medication side effect. If you’re having night sweats often and can’t seem to get relief, reach out to your provider.

By Alyssa Hui

Alyssa Hui is a St. Louis-based health and science news writer. She was the 2020 recipient of the Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association Jack Shelley Award.

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