Night Sweats

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Night sweats are episodes of sweating at night while sleeping. Night sweats can vary from waking up feeling moist to waking and being drenched in sweat, requiring a shower and changing bedclothes in the middle of the night.

This article will discuss night sweats and their possible causes. It will also discuss when to seek an evaluation with your healthcare team if you’re experiencing night sweats. 

Woman experiencing night sweat, wiping face with hand cloth

invizbk / Getty Images

Symptoms of Night Sweats

How much people perspire at night can vary. There isn’t a formal classification of night sweats in terms of mild or severe, but there are varying degrees of how much someone may sweat at night.

With mild night sweats, you may feel warm and sweaty when you awaken, either in the middle of the night or in the morning, but the sweating is not all that concerning.

Moderate night sweats may wake you up with a need to wash your face but not change your clothes.

Drenching night sweats can wake you up covered in sweat. This usually requires changing your sheets and pajamas, and even taking a shower or bath to wash the sweat off. 

Causes of Night Sweats

Night sweats can have a variety of causes. The reason can be as simple as sleeping in a room that is too warm. Some people just naturally sweat more than others, and this is normal for them and nothing to worry about.

The purpose of sweating is to cool the body and help regulate body temperature, and also to release salt from the body.

Many conditions have the potential to cause night sweats. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Infection
  • Cancer
  • Medications
  • Hormones

Infections

Infections such as tuberculosis and other lung infections, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and COVID-19 can cause night sweats to occur.

Part of how the body responds to an infection is by increasing the body temperature, which results in a fever. This reaction can lead to night sweats.

Cancer

Night sweats associated with cancer are typically drenching night sweats, requiring a change of clothes and sheets.

Night sweats are often caused by leukemias (blood-related cancers) or lymphomas (cancers associated with the lymphatic system), but night sweats can also occur with other cancers, as well.

Hormones

Hormones are chemical messengers produced by glands to regulate body functions. They are a major cause of night sweats. This commonly happens following childbirth or during menopause, when hormone levels fluctuate significantly. Night sweats may be caused by other hormonal imbalances as well.

What Medications Can Cause Night Sweats?

Many medications are associated with night sweats. The most common medications that cause night sweats are:

How to Treat Night Sweats

Night sweats can be uncomfortable and disruptive to getting adequate sleep. Seek advice from a healthcare provider if the night sweats are drenching or you’re experiencing symptoms such as:

  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Unexplained fevers and/or chills
  • Itching skin
  • Shortness of breath

Some quick fixes to improving night sweats can be sleeping in loose-fitting, cotton clothing. Cotton is a breathable material that can allow for good airflow to cool the skin. Sweat-wicking fabrics are also available for sleepwear.

Try lowering the temperature of your bedroom by a few degrees to see if that helps. This can be done by turning on the air-conditioner, opening windows, or running fans to cool the air.

Other nonmedication strategies for reducing night sweats include relaxation and deep breathing techniques that help the body calm down before going to sleep.

If night sweats are caused by a hormonal imbalance, seeing a healthcare provider for hormone replacement therapy may improve symptoms.

Are There Tests to Diagnose the Cause of Night Sweats?


If night sweats are a recurrent problem, they become severe, or they co-occur with other symptoms such as the ones listed, diagnostic tests may be ordered to help find the cause. These include:

  • Blood tests: A complete blood count (CBC) may be done to check for abnormalities and a reaction to infection. Hormone tests, such as thyroid stimulating hormone, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, can check for an imbalance. Inflammation markers, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR or sed rate), may also be done.
  • Imaging studies: If any abnormalities are found on blood tests, imaging, such as computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or X-rays may be done.
  • Medications: A review of your medications may be in order if you’re having frequent night sweats. If something you're taking is the cause, you may be able to work with your healthcare provider to see about stopping them or switching to a different medication that may work but not cause night sweats. 

When to See a Healthcare Provider 

If night sweats have been a regular occurrence and are preventing you from getting adequate sleep, discuss this with a healthcare provider. 

You should notify your provider if any other symptoms are present along with the night sweats. These symptoms can include

  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fevers or chills
  • Recurrent infections
  • Shortness of breath
  • Itching skin

Summary

Night sweats is a common condition experienced by many people. Most causes of night sweats are benign, such as hormonal changes or medications. People with night sweats may find improvement in several ways, including by sleeping in a cooler room, changing medications, undergoing hormone replacement therapy, or waiting for an infection to clear. Work with your healthcare team to determine and treat the cause. 

A Word From Verywell 

Night sweats can be uncomfortable and a reason for lost sleep. There are many reasons that night sweats occur, but they usually aren't related to a severe illness such as cancer. Talk to a healthcare provider about your concerns. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes night sweats?

    Night sweats can be caused by medications, sleeping in a warm room, hormones, or infections. Sometimes cancer can cause night sweats.

  • When should I be concerned about night sweats?

    Most night sweats happen for benign reasons. You should be concerned about night sweats if other symptoms such as fevers, chills, weight loss, and itching skin are also experienced.

  • Are night sweats a sign of COVID-19?

    Although it’s not one of the most common symptoms, night sweats have been reported in COVID-19.

8 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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  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About HIV/AIDS.

  4. Jawad AS. Night sweats (nocturnal hyperhidrosis) causing wrinkled (pruney) hands in a patient with SARS-CoV-2 infectionJournal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. 2022;52(2):132-133. doi:10.1177/14782715221103671

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  8. PDQ Supportive and Palliative Care Editorial Board. Hot flashes and night sweats (PDQ®): patient version.

By Julie Scott, MSN, ANP-BC, AOCNP
Julie is an Adult Nurse Practitioner with oncology certification and a healthcare freelance writer with an interest in educating patients and the healthcare community.