How can I stop sweating at night?
November 23, 2005 7:17 AM   Subscribe

How do I cope with night sweats?

Frequently over the last month or two, I've been waking up in the middle of the night, shivering and soaked with sweat. I mean soaked to the point that both my nightclothes and the bedsheets are noticeably wet to the touch. My doctor has told me that this is likely a side effect of the medication I'm on (cymbalta and amisulpride, if it's relevant) and that there's nothing she can do about it. But this is affecting both the duration and the quality of my sleep, because it's pretty hard to get back to sleep when you're lying in a cold puddle. It doesn't seem to be related to the temperature of the bedroom, although I've noticed that the sweating seems to occur more frequently and affect me more if I forego the nightclothes. Does anyone have any suggestions for how I could either avoid the problem, or cope more effectively with it? Stopping or reducing the medication isn't an option.
posted by talitha_kumi to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
I'm not sure there's a good solution other than keeping dry clothing right next to the bed and changing when the dampness wakes you up. That seems to be my husband's MO, for better or worse.

It seems to me that cotton clothing is better than no clothing, but you might also try a wicking fabric, like athletes wear? Like Under Armor?

Also, give your bed time to air out in the morning before you make it, to reduce odors and general yuck factor.
posted by SashaPT at 8:31 AM on November 23, 2005

FWIW, I just wanted to chime in and say that I've had the same problem, also due to medication. I haven't had any luck in finding a solution, but it has happened less frequently as time goes on (it's been a year now.) So perhaps there's some hope for you further down the track.
posted by different at 8:39 AM on November 23, 2005

I've had the same thing happen to me, mostly due to anxiety. It's a pain in the ass to have to launder my bedsheets every few days. All I can think to do is the same dry-clothing aftermath suggested by SashaPT. Anyone have any better ideas?
posted by jenovus at 8:45 AM on November 23, 2005

I had the exact same problem while going through a period of extreme grief. I kept two sets of clean, dry shirts next to my bed to change into, but also kept a hot water bottle at the end of my bed - still under the covers, but past my feet. It didn't make the bed too hot when I was falling asleep, but when I woke up freezing, I was able to curl around it and get warm quickly.
posted by meerkatty at 9:27 AM on November 23, 2005

"I'm not sure there's a good solution other than keeping dry clothing right next to the bed and changing when the dampness wakes you up."

Also my experience (and from meds). I wear pajamas and change if I wake up to too much dampness. Luckily for me, this tends to happen only when I'm starting or just have stopped meds.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:11 AM on November 23, 2005

I get this with colds. It's horrid and I really sympathise. Like everyone else here, I notice it's worse if I'm not wearing anything in bed. It's counterintuitive, but I find I sweat less the more layers I wear — pyjamas improve the situation, but add a dressing gown and it's even better. I can't say it'll work for you too, but worth a shot if nobody comes up with any sure-fire solutions. I hope it gets better for you, whatever you do.
posted by londonmark at 10:18 AM on November 23, 2005

I went through a similar experience at one point.

My solution was to buy a small mattress to go on the floor next to my bed (you should be able to pick one up relatively cheaply from any bedding store). Before going to sleep each night I made sure I had a clean towel and a change of nightclothes sitting on the mattress. On waking up, I'd undress, towel off, change, and move down onto the other mattress.

That at least meant that changing sheets and doing the obligatory load of washing could wait until morning, and I got the maximum hours of sleep possible.
posted by planetthoughtful at 10:21 AM on November 23, 2005

go get a second opinion. It could be a sign of something serious. Weakness and night sweats were symptoms of my father's lymphoma.
posted by jon_kill at 10:47 AM on November 23, 2005

I have this same problem, yet I'm on no medications at all. The only thing that I've found that helps is having a fan in the window. Of course, now that it's winter that has to go. I haven't found a good way to deal with this and it was extra sucky when it happened on a transatlantic flight.
posted by pieoverdone at 11:37 AM on November 23, 2005

Personally I'd trade my constant-sweats for night-sweats so you can always look on the bright side of that.

If you don't have a good and thick cotton mattress pad you should have one. Sheets straight onto the mattress are doing to get much wetter and more disgusting. Additionally you should look into lightweight sheets and blankets to put onto your body even if you pile more and warmer ones on top of them.

Lastly, when you get up in the morning don't make the bed. It may offend your sense of aesthetics but trapping that moisture (even if it no longer feels moist, it is) under a few layers gives the bacteria a much better breeding ground, requiring more regular sheet changes. And every other day gets old fast.
posted by phearlez at 11:49 AM on November 23, 2005

This is related to room temperature but worth a try. Wear a hat in bed one night. I've woken up in the same state as you if my head has got cold in the night. I'm assuming my body is heating up to try & warm my head & wearing a hat stopped the sweats.

No good if, as it seems, that your sweats are not cold-related but worth a try for a never know...
posted by i_cola at 12:07 PM on November 23, 2005

I typically get night sweats when sick and my fever breaks. My solution is to take ibuprofren about two hours before bed, causing the fever to go away before I ever even lie down. If I take it (or, say, Nyquil) right before bed, then my fever breaks even harder, causing me to sweat much worse.

Also, when are you taking your medication? If at night, perhaps ask your doctor if it's ok to take it in the morning, so that its effects are lower at night.
posted by dsword at 12:14 PM on November 23, 2005

I second the second opinion above - my night sweats were caused by Hodgkin's Disease. Even when the lymph node under my armpit had swollen too much to allow me to sleep, my original doc actually said to me "It's not like it's cancer." So find another doc just to make sure.

Now that the scary stuff is out of the way, I'd keep some old undershirts by the bed. I'd wipe down with one, put on another, and the third I'd lay across the sweat spot in the bed. That way you're dry, where you're laying is dry, and the bedside shirt helps wick up a little of the bedsweat.

Of course, then you have three shirts a day headed to the wash, but at least I was semi-comfortable at night.
posted by Moondoggie at 12:38 PM on November 23, 2005

Avoiding the problem is something that people with leukemia have been searching for unsuccessfully for years. Coping with it is another matter. Have you tried flannel sheets?
posted by Neiltupper at 5:23 PM on November 23, 2005

Cymbalta is a common cause of sweats- it's due mostly to the noradrinergic action.

If you are taking it for neuropathic or other pain, there may be other medications that work differently. If you are taking it for depression, consider something more selective serotonin...

But then, it's always important to weight the benefits and problems of a treatment.

But you should see your doctor about such things, and yes, to rule out other causes- especially if you go off potentially offending meds and the symptom persists.

Not Medical Advice- Opinion only. Your Mileage May Vary
posted by INFOHAZARD at 10:59 AM on November 27, 2005

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