What Are Night Sweats?

Night sweats are more than just a nuisance; they can also signify a medical condition. Hormonal imbalances, cancers, or infections can cause night sweats. Symptoms similar to night sweats, such as hot flashes or flushing, can also indicate a health concern.

If you experience night sweats, you should discuss this with your healthcare provider. There is a wide range of causes and solutions that should be explored, some of which may require immediate treatment.

Symptoms Involved in Night Sweats
Verywell / JR Bee

Defining Night Sweats

Feeling sweaty or overheated at night can be described in several ways. You may be experiencing clear-cut symptoms of night sweats or several different conditions, including hot flashes and flushing.

  • Night sweats are defined as sweating so profusely that your bedclothes and linens are damp and need to be changed.
  • Hot flashes are sudden, intense, warm sensations that may begin in the chest or arms and move upward to your face. They can occur at any time of the day, not just at night.
  • Flushing is the sudden rise in body temperature that can cause a rosy or reddening appearance to the skin.

Describing detailed symptoms to your healthcare provider may help identify a diagnosis sooner.


If you or your child are experiencing night sweats, you might want to consider recent changes in your environment or other symptoms such as fevers, weight loss, pain, or anxiety.


Your sleeping environment can cause night sweats. This is especially common for young children, who often do not select their pajamas or blankets.

Excessively heavy pajamas, too many blankets on the bed, or a thermostat set at a high temperature can cause sweating and a general feeling of being too hot.

If the rooms in the house are not heated or cooled to the same degree, your child may be sleeping in a warmer space than you intended. Sleeping without air conditioning or where you can't adjust the temperature can result in an overly hot room at night.

Medical Conditions

Recurrent sweating at night without an environmental cause is something that you should not ignore. Typically, if a medical condition causes night sweats, your symptoms will not improve by lowering the temperature a few degrees or sleeping with lighter blankets.

The most common medical conditions that can cause night sweats include:

  • Menopause/perimenopause: Altered levels of estrogen and progesterone during menopause and perimenopause interfere with the body's normal temperature regulation. While menopause usually causes hot flashes more often than sweats, it is among the most common causes of sweating at night.
  • Infections: Any infection that causes a high fever, whether bacterial, viral, or parasitic, can make you feel hot and sweat day or night. Life-threatening illnesses, such as osteomyelitis or endocarditis, can cause night sweats, extreme sweating, jitteriness, vomiting, and overall weakness.
  • Weight gain/obesity: Weight gain can make you feel hot and lead to sweating. This is more common during physical activity and can be noticeable at night.
  • Diabetes: High and low blood sugars can cause sweating, which can worsen at night due to heavy sheets or pajamas. Diabetes causes hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), and overtreatment of hyperglycemia can result in low blood sugar.
  • Thyroid disorders: Hyperthyroidism usually causes weight loss and agitation, and it is often associated with a feeling of being overheated, potentially resulting in sweating during the day or night.
  • Inflammatory and autoimmune disease: Fevers, inflammation, and intermittent discomfort are all characteristic of autoimmune conditions such as lupus and inflammatory bowel disease. Night sweats and flushing can be a part of the flare-ups.
  • Sleep disorders: Conditions that disrupt sleep, such as restless leg syndrome, nightmares, and sleep apnea, can cause night sweating, often due to tossing and turning.
  • Anxiety: Severe agitation and insomnia at night can cause sweating, sometimes triggered by excessive tossing and turning.
  • Idiopathic hyperhidrosis: Sometimes, people sweat excessively without a known medical cause. For example, idiopathic hyperhidrosis causes excessive sweating, especially during anxiety.
  • Autonomic disorders: Impairment of the autonomic nervous system from conditions like autonomic neuropathy, spine disease, pituitary disease, head trauma, or a stroke can cause fevers, chills, flushing, and sweating.
  • Tuberculosis (TB): An infection characterized by cyclic fevers, TB may be recognized based on the complaint of night sweats.
  • Cancer: Most cancers can cause night sweats, but lymphoma and leukemia, cancers of the white blood cells, are most typically associated with night sweats.
  • HIV/AIDS: A severe immune deficiency, HIV, can cause intermittent sweating, chills, and fevers. These symptoms usually accompany opportunistic infections or cancer that occur due to AIDS, but they can occur even when there is no obvious viral infection or cancer.
  • Adrenal gland disease (pheochromocytoma): A tumor that causes excessive autonomic nervous system function, pheochromocytoma, can cause sweats and flushing, and it can also cause a rapid heartbeat, and high blood pressure, and anxiety.
  • Pregnancy: While not a medical illness, pregnancy can cause unpleasant symptoms, including discomfort when trying to sleep, a sense of feeling too hot, and sweating during the day or night.
  • Drug or alcohol withdrawal: Alcohol and drugs may cause sweating, and withdrawal can cause severe temperature dysregulation, manifesting as fevers or intermittent sweating.

Treatments for some of the above issues may also cause night sweats. For example, hormone therapy—for menopause treatment or other problems such as fertility problems or cancer—tends to cause more dramatic symptoms than menopause because hormone levels change with these drugs tend to be more abrupt.

Several medications are also associated with night sweats, including antidepressants, chemotherapy, thyroid replacement, and Tylenol (acetaminophen).

When to See a Healthcare Provider

You should call your healthcare provider about nights sweats that don't resolve, especially if accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Disruptive sleep
  • Nearing the age of menopause
  • Signs of an infection (fever, shaking, chills, pain)
  • Known or suspected diabetes
  • Known or suspected autoimmune disease
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Going through drug or alcohol withdrawal


Night sweats can be disruptive and frustrating and signify a medical condition. Environmental factors such as heavy blankets and hot rooms can cause sweating at night. Additionally, hormonal imbalances and certain cancers can cause drenching night sweats.

Although it may seem trivial, seeing your healthcare provider for night sweats is essential, especially if you have a fever, shaking, chills, or pain.

A Word From Verywell

Night sweats can interfere with your sleep, resulting in fatigue and feeling run down. Cooling sheets can help with temperature regulation. If your child has night sweats, first determine whether there is an environmental cause. If you or your child continue to have night sweats for a week or longer without an environmental reason, you should see your healthcare provider and get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the most common cause of night sweats?

    Environmental factors such as heavy blankets are a common cause of night sweats. However, hormonal changes in women in one of the top reasons for night sweats.

  • Can you have night sweats without fever?

    Several medical conditions cause night sweats without a fever. However, contact your healthcare provider if you have night sweats accompanied by fever, shaking, chills, and pain.

  • Are night seats a symptom of Covid?

    Since Covid can cause a fever, night sweats can occur if you have the virus.

19 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.
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Additional Reading

By Serenity Mirabito RN, OCN
Serenity Mirabito, MSN, RN, OCN, advocates for well-being, even in the midst of illness. She believes in arming her readers with the most current and trustworthy information leading to fully informed decision making.

Originally written by Lisa Fayed