Does IBD Cause Night Sweats?

Many people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) experience night sweats. It may be a part of IBD that occurs every night or might be a problem that comes around from time to time. Night sweats could happen more frequently during a disease flare-up or perhaps when switching between medications or changing the dosage of an existing medication. No matter when or how often the sweats take hold, it is a problem that needs to be dealt with in order to get a good night's sleep.

Waking up several times at night because of being hot and sweaty is annoying as well as demoralizing. Awake and uncomfortable the task is now to change clothes and possibly even bedding. What's more, there's a risk of waking up a bedmate or a roommate in the process. The day after a poor night's sleep is stressful, and people with IBD also don't need to add more stress to their lives.

Black woman sleeping in bed
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Sleep and IBD

Sleep is intimately connected to the course of IBD. While this is a topic that is still being studied, it's accepted that people who have IBD need quality rest in order to keep their symptoms in check. In fact, some studies have shown that disturbances in sleep can be the first sign of a flare-up. Waking in the night, being unable to fall asleep, or insomnia may start happening before even other hallmark symptoms such as diarrhea show up. Using a sleep tracker may help some people keep tabs on sleep and aspects of it such as the quality of sleep and how many times there is an awake period during the night.

Why Do Night Sweats Happen?

One of the many symptoms of a flare-up of IBD (or, in fact, of many of the potential complications of IBD) is a fever. During the night, the fever may spike several times, causing body temperature to rise and lower. If you're wearing pajamas and are also covered up with a sheet and blanket, you'll probably start to sweat. At first, you may not wake up, but then your body temperature will lower, you'll start to feel cold and uncomfortable, and then eventually you'll wake up soaking wet.

If you are experiencing night sweats, it should be brought up at the next doctor's visit. In the larger scheme of problems that affect people with IBD, it might not seem like a major issue, but it is important. Even if you are feeling well, discuss sleep disturbances with your physician before the situation gets out of hand or becomes a larger problem.

Tips for Managing Night Sweats

The best way to deal with night sweats that you can't prevent is to be prepared for them. Minimizing discomfort and getting back to sleep as quickly as possible is the best way to proceed. Some tips for dealing with night sweats include:

  • Stay in the dark. Don't turn too many lights on when you get up with the night sweats, because this will only wake you up further. Adjusting the lighting in the bedroom and the bathroom to minimize bright light will help in falling back asleep faster.
  • Change it up! Have a change of clothes and bedding close at hand, so that you can get dried off and get back to bed as quick as possible. Keep 3 sets of bedding so that there's one on the bed, one clean, and one that's being laundered.
  • Plan ahead. Keep some cold water by your bedside to help cool you off when you wake up.
  • Stack 'em up. Try sleeping on some thick towels or an extra blanket to avoid getting your bedding wet. If the towel or blanket become saturated, you can remove them and your bedding underneath will still be cool and dry.
  • Keep it clean. Use a mattress protector under your sheets and on your pillows to help keep your mattress clean.
  • Cool it. Keep your room cool and avoid bundling up in clothing and blankets.
  • Fresh air helps. Air circulating in the room with a ceiling fan, a window fan, or even an open window may help keep the room from feeling stuffy and too warm.

A Word From Verywell

Sleep is vital for everyone, but people with IBD are especially prone to issues with sleep. Getting up to go to the bathroom, vivid dreams, and night sweats can all impact sleep. Talking about sleep with a gastroenterologist might not seem intuitive but it's an important aspect of IBD that should be managed. In some cases, working with a sleep specialist can help in order to get more quality sleep and thereby help reduce some of the secondary potential effects of loss of sleep, such as a negative impact on symptoms of IBD.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

  2. Kinnucan JA, Rubin DT, Ali T. Sleep and inflammatory bowel disease: exploring the relationship between sleep disturbances and inflammation. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2013;9(11):718-27.

  3. US Department of Health and Human Services. Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

By Amber J. Tresca
Amber J. Tresca is a freelance writer and speaker who covers digestive conditions, including IBD. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 16.