Night sweats and sleep
What are night sweats?
Sleep is essential for our overall health and wellbeing and a key factor in ensuring a good night’s sleep is the way our body regulates our core body temperature to keep it consistent throughout the night so that our sleep disruption is minimal.
However, one common problem that many people experience is night sweats, which will disrupt sleep and leave you feeling damp and uncomfortable.
Although we all lose moisture whilst we sleep, this is not the same as night sweats, which is excessive sweating during sleep. Night sweats are often accompanied by a feeling of overheating, and this can make it very difficult to fall asleep.
Over a prolonged period, this can be very debilitating, leading to a feeling of dehydration, fatigue, and loss of concentration during the day. In some cases, night sweats may be a symptom of an underlying health issue, such as an infection or other health problems.
Both men and women may experience night sweats for many of the same reasons and others differ. Generally speaking, men do not experience night sweats as often as women, conversely men tend to have a lower tolerance for heat than women.
What causes night sweats and hot flushes?
Causes of night sweats includes:
Including hypoglycaemia, some heart conditions, hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), cancer.
Such as tuberculosis.
Such as osteomyelitis.
Such as those experienced during menopause or increases in hormone production, such as hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or diabetes.
Such as anti-depressants and some cancer treatments and treatments for another underlying medical condition.
Stress and anxiety:
With women nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, with men being significantly less likely to report or seek help for mental health issues and causes of night sweats.
A sleep disorder which already disrupts sleep patterns on its own, but a recent report showed that up to 33% of patients with sleep apnoea also suffer from night sweats.
Including alcohol and tobacco use, as well as spicy or hot foods.
What specific factors cause women to experience night sweats?
The most common factors and causes of night sweats in women is perimenopause and menopause and this is caused by hormonal changes, as oestrogen production slows down and almost stops. Up to 80% of women can be affected by night sweats during this time.
What specific factors causes night sweats and hot flashes in men?
In addition to the general factors given above, men can experience night sweats due to low testosterone levels, which affects around 38% of men aged 45 years or older.
Can children get night sweats?
Night-time sweating is not only common in teenagers, who are going through hormonal changes, but is also fairly common in babies and small children.
It can mean different things as your child may be fine and dry all day but whilst fast asleep, they might have local sweating (scalp, face or neck) or general sweating over the entire body.
What can cause night sweats in children?
Small children are not able to regulate their body temperature in the way that older children and adults can, so it is important to ensure they are not tucked up with too many blankets or that the room is too warm.
Babies under 1 year old should not have pillows or duvets. There are some common contributing factors to night sweats in children, including cold viruses, asthma, allergic skin reactions and tonsillitis. If your child is experiencing other symptoms along with their night sweats, then seek the advice of your doctor.
Tips to help reduce night sweats and other symptoms
If night sweats are due to an underlying health condition, treating the condition will usually help to reduce them. You can also take some additional measures to help you to sleep more comfortably. These tips are generally useful to ensure a better night’s sleep, even if you are not experiencing night sweats!
Use bedding made from natural materials to avoid night sweats:
Natural materials are better for sleep because they are breathable, whereas synthetic fibres tend to trap heat. For example, a traditional mattress is more likely to assist you with temperature regulation than one made with memory foam.
If you have a memory foam mattress, then consider a wool topper, which will help to dissipate trapped heat but will also keep you warm in the cooler months. Opt for duvets and pillows filled with natural materials.
Yet again, a wool duvet and wool pillows are a great choice because wool is breathable, temperature regulating and moisture wicking. It also has the added benefit of being dust mite resistant, so is ideal for those whose sleep is disrupted because of allergies due to these pesky critters!
Team up your wool filled bedding with bedlinen made from 100% natural fibres, such as cotton, linen or hemp. For children, opt for bedding made from natural fibres, wherever possible.
Wear comfortable night clothing to help with night sweats:
Noose pyjamas or nighties made from a breathable, moisture wicking fabric, such as 100% cotton, can help to keep you cool whilst you sleep, whilst allowing sweat to evaporate more quickly and regulate your body temperature.
Sleep, exercise and general health:
By exercise, we don’t necessarily mean going to the gym and lifting weights – even a gentle stroll several times a week or gardening, as being outside in the fresh air will help.
Carrying excess weight may cause night sweats in some people and being overweight can cause other conditions, such as sleep apnoea, which can be a contributory factor to night sweats.
Foods to avoid before bedtime:
spicy food, chocolate, high fat foods and citrus foods too close to bedtime can trigger an over production of acid in your body, which leads to acid reflux, a contributing factor in night sweats, causing hot flashes.
Drinks to avoid before bedtime:
alcohol and caffeine can all affect sweating and your internal temperature Avoiding them, particularly if late at night, may help to reduce night sweats. If you, like many of us, love to have a hot drink before bedtime, then try to stick to herbal or other non-caffeinated teas to avoid night sweats.
Always seek advice from your doctor if you are experiencing night sweats that happen frequently, disturb your sleep or are accompanied by other symptoms.
If you would like to talk about natural soft bedding options to help achieve a more peaceful sleep, then please call 01752 345399 or get in touch via email. The team will be happy to help.
Ref: Sleep Foundation, NHS, Healthline