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What Causes Night Sweats

If you suffer from night sweats, you most likely understand how frustrating and puzzling this sleep disorder can feel. You may research and discover many causes, including but not limited to menopause, medications, and infections. These are just a few of the possible causes, as sweating at night can be a symptom of several different illnesses.

Night sweating can occur in both men and women despite the attention brought to menopause, but the symptoms, causes, and treatments can be vastly different for different people. With this guide I hope to provide you strong baseline of understand for what causes night sweats in some of the most common situations.

Use the following category list to skip down to a specific area of concern:

Night Sweats Causes
Are You Feeling Like This At Night?

Menopause and Puberty

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The most common cause of night sweats in women is probably menopause. When a woman is transitioning into menopause, it is common to experience sudden hot flashes and night sweating. This can sometimes occur for several years before the actual start of the menopause. Pre and post-menopause night sweats are perfectly normal too, but over time they will diminish. I know this doesn’t make them any easier to endure, however, so you might visit my articles on menopause night sweats treatment and natural remedies for night sweats in women for more information on how to help with this type of sweating at night.

It is worth noting that when children enter adolescence, the onset of puberty may also trigger this symptom with a similar fluctuation of changing hormones.


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Antidepressants are known for causing this side effect. Doctors say that 8% to 22% of people taking a wide variety of antidepressant medications experience sleep hyperhidrosis. Fever reducers or antipyretics, such as acetaminophen, have occasionally been linked to nighttime bouts of sweating. Many other prescription drugs list night sweating and hot flashes as a possible side effect as well. The following medications have been found to cause night sweats:

  • hydralazine
  • niacin (in high dosage)
  • nitroglycerine
  • prednisone and prednisolone (cortisone medications)
  • tamoxifen

If you are taking any of these medications and you are experiencing sweating while sleeping to a degree that makes healthy sleep difficult, I urge you to discuss the matter with your doctor.


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Infections also play a major role in night sweating. Tuberculosis is most commonly associated with this type of sweating, but bacterial infections can also play a role. If you are consistently enduring night sweats, you should discuss the matter with your doctor for diagnosis and possible treatments.

Infectious diseases such as HIV or AIDS are also known to trigger this uncomfortable condition.


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Continuing studies suggest various forms of inflammation can wreak havoc on our bodies and play a pivotal role in aging. Any kind of inflammation in your body can cause you to sweat excessively, but in particular Endocarditis may cause severe night sweats. Endocartitis is an inflammation of the inner heart valves.

But again, any inflammation could be the culprit, so you might have your doctor evaluate for any kind of source of inflammation in your system. One indicator of inflammation in the body is a high level of C-reactive protein found in blood plasma.

Hypoglycemia or Diabetes

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In general, experiencing a period where you suffer from unusually low blood sugar may cause you to perspire. This is especially true if you experience low blood sugar while asleep.

In particular, individuals taking oral anti-diabetic medicines or insulin may suffer from night sweats as a result of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose).

One common and serious cause of undiagnosed night sweats is Diabetes or Hypoglycemia. Diabetes and night sweats isn’t uncommon, so if you can’t determine the cause of your night sweating and it persists, you should make sure your doctor addresses this possibility.


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I don’t want any of my readers to panic, so understand that this is probably not the most likely cause of your night sweats. However, you should understand that this is commonly one of the earliest symptoms of cancer, especially of lymphoma.

But keep in mind that other symptoms, such as a fever and unusual weight loss will also occur around the same time as the sweating. As always, please have a medical professional evaluate you before you jump to conclusions in either direction (assuming your sweating at night is or isn’t derived from the presence of cancer).

Idiopathic Hyperhidrosis

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One of the most mysterious and frustrating causes of sleep hyperhidrosis is idiopathic hyperhidrosis, also known as primary hyperhidrosis. This is simply when you suffer from chronic and excessive perspiration for no identifiable reason at all. It is essentially a medical condition in itself and not a symptom of anything else.

While there is no current cure for idiopathic hyperhidrosis, there are treatments and in some cases certain surgical procedures that may help. For more information and night sweats treatment options for this type of excessive sweating please read my sections on idiopathic hyperhidrosis: Idiopathic Hyperhidrosis

Neurological Conditions

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While neurological problems are less likely to be the source of your sweating while sleeping, they still have been found to be the cause for some people. Among the neurological problems associated with severe night sweating are the following:

Please visit those trustworthy, authoritative sources for more information on those complex conditions.

Hormone Disorders

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While I’ll discuss gender-specific hormone disorders below, there are also some gender-neutral hormonal problems that manifest themselves with excessive night sweating. These include carcinoid syndrome, hyperthyroidism and pheochromocytoma.

Night Sweats in Men

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Andropause, also known as male menopause, is caused by the reduction of testosterone levels as men age. Andropause generally occurs in middle-age or older men. Men may experience a plethora of different andropausal symptoms, such as sweating, anxiety, depression, lack of concentration, and insomnia during this time. As a man’s hormones fluctuate over time, cold sweats can also occur. Andropause may also occur as a result of dramatic shifts in lifestyle, such as being an intense, competitive weight lifter who suddenly gives up lifting. For more on andropause, please visit my night sweats in men guide.

Other causes of night sweats men commonly experience include low blood sugar during the night, stress, acid reflux or alcohol consumption. In most cases these should only cause sweating occasionally at night. Anytime you experience sweating at night on a regular basis and you’re not sure of the cause it is important to consult your physician.

Night Sweats in Women

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While menopause is the primary cause of night sweats in women, it isn’t the only possible cause. If a woman suffers from low blood sugar, she can experience sweating at night. Night hot flashes can also be caused by other hormonal disorders, or conditions that cause a fluctuation in hormones, like pregnancy.

There are other situations or conditions that can also cause low estrogen symptoms
, which may lead to night sweating. Certain medical conditions, like polycystic ovarian syndrome, can cause low estrogen symptoms as can treatments for certain medical conditions, for example a hysterectomy, radiation or chemotherapy to treat cancer in the abdominal area. Extremely low body weight and body fat can also throw a woman’s hormones out of balance causing estrogen levels to drop.

When Your Sleep Environment Causes Night Sweats

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While there are many medical reasons for night sweating, one of the more common causes of night sweats is because your room or sleeping environment is simply too hot. This cause is extremely typical, and it usually provides no reason to worry. If you experience excessive sweating while sleeping, you may consult a doctor, but often it is perfectly harmless. Please consult my guides to bedding and sleepwear for more on improving your sleeping environment.

Treating Your Night Sweats

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Turn down the thermostat, take off a few blankets, sleep in a cooler room, change into cooler pajamas –- try to do something to cool yourself down. If you are worried about a serious medical condition, consult a doctor to find the appropriate solution for your situation. While I offer some natural remedies for relief and some more aggressive night sweats treatments, always begin with an open and honest discussion with your doctor.

Most cases of night sweating are typically harmless. Men and women can experience this condition differently, but in many cases, the causes can be similar. Try not to worry about mild sweating at night or waking up in a cold sweat, it’s usually nothing. Try to find a method to help you eliminate your particular cause of night sweats. If nothing helps, consult a doctor to pinpoint your personal night sweats causes so you can treat them effectively and start sleeping better.