I don't want to be a sweaty mess all the time!
June 10, 2015 5:37 PM   Subscribe

In my quest to become the worst person to share a bed with in the world, I have taken to sweating profusely while I sleep. It's gross, and I can't seem to stop. How do I best deal with this?

For the past couple of years, I have been experiencing intermittent night sweats, and I would really like it to stop, or at least be easier to deal with. While it's not every single night, when I experience it, I wake up head to toe drenched and freezing cold, so it's pretty unpleasant. What can I do?

I have talked this over with my doctor, who sent me for blood work to check my thyroid, hormone levels, fasting glucose, H1AC, and a variety of other stuff. All came back normal. I have switched anti-anxiety medications, stopped taking birth control pills, nothing has helped. I'm 29, so I doubt this could be menopause. I'm not usually sweaty or easily overheated when I'm awake--in fact I'm usually cold.

In terms of my sleeping arrangements, I have a memory foam mattress, which I know can trap heat. However, I started getting night sweats before I got the mattress. My comforter is down, but it's thin, and I try to sleep in a cool room. I have tried sleeping with just a sheet, but I find it cold and uncomfortable. Is there anything else I can do to help my body cool down while I'm asleep?

It's probably completely unrelated, but I am already pretty unpleasant when I'm asleep. I grind my teeth like mad, I steal blankets, and I sleep fight. My partner is very patient.
posted by inertia to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Have you recently taken to eating anything - or not eating anything, when you used to eat something - close to bedtime?
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:47 PM on June 10, 2015

Also any recent drastic weight loss or gain? Any new exercise habits?
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:47 PM on June 10, 2015

Also (sorry) your birth control pills: you stopped taking them after the night sweats started, as you say, but did you recently change types?
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:48 PM on June 10, 2015

Response by poster: In the past three years, I've lost a considerable amount of weight, but slowly, through diet and exercise.

I was taking birth control pills (Safyral) for about a year and a half before I stopped taking it, thinking it was the cause of the night sweats, among other things. I took about a six month break from hormonal contraceptives, and recently got a hormonal IUD. Nothing seemed to make a difference, unfortunately.
posted by inertia at 5:53 PM on June 10, 2015

Hmm. Well I asked the first two things because they are things that I have experienced in the past at various stages, and have caused what could be considered more-than-normal sweating at night (though they were temporary in all cases). I ask about the third thing because when my girlfriend changed pills a while back, all sorts of wacky shit happened, and it seemed like anything that plays with your hormones could conceivably make you all sweaty at night. So I'm just a dead end, sorry!
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:59 PM on June 10, 2015

I used to think sweating at night was normal. Then I tried melatonin... and solved it. The NIH discusses melatonin as a sleep-cycle regulator, which it has also helped with; reducing my night time body surface temperature from "furnace" to "cool to the touch" was an unexpected benefit. Link: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/940.html
posted by ZakDaddy at 6:00 PM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Are you having nightmares? Maybe some kind of stress reduction?
posted by amtho at 6:07 PM on June 10, 2015

Response by poster: I'll try not to threadsit--but no, no nightmares. I've been getting night sweats for a couple of years now, and I don't seem to get it more when I'm stressed.

And I have tried melatonin, I used to take it quite regularly for a while. It helps me sleep, but doesn't seem to effect the sweating. Maybe I just need to sleep with ice packs on my feet.
posted by inertia at 6:15 PM on June 10, 2015

Did the doctor's blood work include Babesiosis, and do you have any risk factors? I believe night sweats/chills are a symptom and they're typically intermittent.
posted by pie ninja at 6:23 PM on June 10, 2015

There are a few items on the market that are supposed to keep your head cool. Here's one. I think that if you have coolness at the part that sticks out of the blankets, it could keep the rest of your body cool but you could still have all the blankets that you like.

And not to be alarmist, but as someone with a small handful of autoimmune disorders and having read a couple of relatively recent memoirs about unusual AI disorders and how disruptive they are, in your shoes I would seek out an autoimmune specialist and talk to them.
posted by janey47 at 6:27 PM on June 10, 2015

As anecdata, this happened to me beginning in my twenties and I was mystified. I think maybe my doctor did some bloodwork and found nothing. What I did eventually figure out is that it only happens if I overeat during the day, particularly sugary stuff. I have assumed it is somehow metabolism-related. It might be worth just seeing if there's any link with your diet.

(you would think this sort of realization would keep me away from candy, but you would be wrong....)
posted by chocotaco at 6:53 PM on June 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Okay, this is really weird but this also happened to me starting in my late-ish 20s and into early 30s and then one day it just... stopped. I also had lots of bloodwork/tests done and nothing out of the ordinary popped up. I have since wondered if there's some sort of major hormonal shift that happens in those years for women that might cause this?
posted by joan_holloway at 7:03 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sleep apnea can cause night sweats
posted by H21 at 7:05 PM on June 10, 2015

Just adding to the speculation... are you taking any OTC meds at all near bedtime (not just melatonin)? I started having a "drenched in sweat" reaction to naproxen only recently, after taking it uneventfully for years, and it took me a while and several changes of sheets to figure it out.
posted by dorque at 7:13 PM on June 10, 2015

How about trying a pillow like this?
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:34 PM on June 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

This happened to me! I would wake up drenched in sweat many times each night. I kept a pile of clothes and towels/sheets at the foot of my bed because I would wake up shivering and soaked in sweat. It was miserable. My doctor found nothing, so I did trial and error on myself. Tested my blood glucose at different points during the day/night, took my blood pressure and pulse at night when I woke up from the sweats, etc. Everything was perfectly normal.

Eventually I figured out that this was related to sinus problems I was having. When I did a thorough sinus rinsing (plus taking mucinex and allergy pills as needed) the night sweats stopped immediately. As best I can tell, I believe the sinus problems were causing sleep apnea like symptoms (although I never snored), and my body was overheating as a result of me not being able to breathe while I was asleep. I still have some sinus issues, but I've got enough of a handle on it that the night sweats have never come back. Also, these were intermittent as well (sort of came in waves). Among other factors, it seems like at different points in the menstrual cycle my sinuses were more or less congested (or maybe the congestion was just a different consistency--sorry for the tmi).

This may very well not be the case for you since it's kind of a random thing, but I'm throwing it out there since it took me forever to figure this out. You might also consider trying to go in for a sleep study if you can't resolve this.

As a more general thing, I would recommend sleeping in as little clothing as possible. You might also try sleeping in a slightly warmer room, but sleeping with only a sheet.

Good luck! I know how incredibly miserable this is, so I hope you find an answer soon.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:32 PM on June 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Did this coincide with a move, by any chance? This happened to me only when I lived in this one apartment in an old, badly ventilated house (or maybe it was badly insulated, as well, not sure which is relevant here). The bedroom in particular would trap and slowly accumulate heat (that didn't at all get to or stay in another room). Year-round, wasn't a radiator issue.

Oh and to sleep - a wool blanket, cotton sheets.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:58 PM on June 10, 2015

I had terrible night sweats when I was on Lexapro. Wake up with the bed soaked, swab myself off with the sheet and roll over to the other side. Wake up with that side soaked through too and hope it had been long enough for the first part to dry at least a little...

Got off the Lexapro, and now I only do night-sweats when I'm fighting off a fever.
posted by Because at 2:30 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Your doctor almost certainly covered this, but just to be certain -- have you been screened for TB?

I would ditch the down comforter, however thin, in favor of a cotton blanket, and, as cotton dress sock mentioned, cotton sheets. I would put a wool blanket under the bottom sheet, as a mattress pad to insulate you from the heat of your memory foam mattress. Most importantly, you need air moving on your body. It doesn't have to be at gale force: just a light current can make a big difference. If you don't have a ceiling fan, station a tower fan by the side of your bed.
posted by timeo danaos at 2:43 AM on June 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I find that an oscillating fan near my bed helps with this. If I remember to turn it on, I don't wake up soaked.
posted by amro at 2:59 AM on June 11, 2015

Try wearing Uniqlo airism to sleep, this may help a little. There are cool/sweat absorbing sheets you can use too.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 3:35 AM on June 11, 2015

Me too. It was my light down comforter. Cotton sheets and a light cotton quilt solved it.
posted by sockermom at 5:38 AM on June 11, 2015

I have night sweats, but can keep it under control with the following:

- If I take a shower before bed, I sweat more in my sleep. So I shower in the mornings.
- All cotton pyjamas (no tee-shirts or jersey, but crisp cotton), or flannel
- All cotton sheets
- Sleep in a cool bedroom with a duvet or comforter over me so there's no gaps for air
- Exercise lots so my sleep is deep

I don't know why they started in my late twenties too - but these are my methods.
posted by shazzam! at 5:43 AM on June 11, 2015

my husband began getting night sweats after he lost 70 pounds (slowly, over 2 years, the healthy way with diet and exercise). All his bloodwork is normal but I can't help but feel it's somehow tied to the weight loss. And now you've mentioned you lost a good deal of weight too. hmmmm
posted by TestamentToGrace at 6:27 AM on June 11, 2015

Someone else mentioned Lexapro; I had horrible night sweats when I was taking a high dose of Pristiq. Cut down from 200mg to 150mg and the sweats literally disappeared overnight.
posted by Salamander at 6:43 AM on June 11, 2015

I wish I knew. I've gotten intermittent night sweats on and off starting around age 30 (so, over ten years now) and I can discern no pattern. I'm also not easily overheated when awake and generally tend to run cold.

Bloodwork has found nothing with my thyroid, hormones, glucose, etc. All the other usual suspects (medication, menopause, weight loss) do not apply. No pattern consistent with whether I've been drinking or not, whether I eat dinner early or late, whether I've taken any sort of medication for anything that day or not, how warm or cold the room is, what kind of covers I'm using, whether I'm sleeping alone or next to another warm body, my mood, the weather, or whether Mercury is in retrograde. All I know is that I periodically wake up drenched.
posted by desuetude at 7:19 AM on June 11, 2015

Okay, you made me giggle, at least you are keeping your sense of humor with this. I too am awful to sleep with (occasional night sweats, full on sleep conversations, rarely still, etc.). Night sweats can be a sigh of anemia. Iron can help. But, I get them when I'm stressed out and, since you are grinding your teeth, I think that this is probably what is happening. Have you tried yoga? Not the hot room, tight pants, athletic yoga, but the soothing, stretching, breathing yoga? It can help. Also, long walks, prayer, worry dolls, and great sex.
posted by myselfasme at 7:24 AM on June 11, 2015

This happens to me too, I'm so tired of changing my pajamas in the middle of the night. It's down to two factors: either the room itself is too cold (from the a/c, in the summer, from the world in general in winter) in which case adding another light blanket helps; or the entire house is too hot, in which case I turn the a/c lower, or crack a window in the winter.

in general i am a gross horrible sweaty gorilla person year round so i'm kind of used to it already, but something that helps me sleep a lot is having an icepack on my forehead. i have a bunch that came with a soft cloth pouch and a long elastic so i can wear it like a golf visor and it stays on my face despite my crazed thrashings and t-rex dreams. on bad nights i will get up to change it like 3-4 times but usually i just yank it off and throw it across the room in my sleep when it starts heating up.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:00 AM on June 11, 2015

I had this happen about a year and a half ago, and it turned out that I was having fevers every night, and then they were breaking while I slept. I had another unrelated weird thing happen, so i went to the doctor and my white blood cell count was elevated. So maybe it's fevers? (They never figured out what mine were about, and they went away)
posted by Stewriffic at 9:19 AM on June 11, 2015

my husband began getting night sweats after he lost 70 pounds

This reminds me that I also had another briefer stint of night sweats that seemed to be correlated with weight loss. In my case, the weight loss was of the unhealthy, eating-disordered kind, and the night sweats started when I began to eat a little more normally. My doctor said that this can happen when you're metabolism is re-calibrating or something like that. Apparently blood sugar spikes or crashes (I can't remember which, might be both) can lead to night sweats.

On that note, if you're in the habit of eating right before bed, I would try to avoid that, or at the very least make sure you eat something that's not likely to lead to sharp changes in blood sugar (like oatmeal instead of ice cream).

I know you mentioned a fasting blood glucose test being normal, but if you enjoy doing experiments on yourself* you can pretty cheaply buy a self-administered blood sugar testing kit. I would recommend using it a couple of times before a meal, right after a meal, right before bed, and then when you wake up from a night sweat.

I should mention that IANAD/IANYD, and this is mostly just conjecture combined with some googling and tidbits of medical info from professionals.

*I do, but I'm weird like that.
posted by litera scripta manet at 3:40 PM on June 11, 2015

I had to take oral steroids recently and they made me sweat like a pig at night. In fact, I developed acne on my 38-year-old face because my head was lying in sweat so long.

I took the full round of steroids and I still sweat about once a month at night, but nowhere near as bad.

Just another anecdote for you to consider.
posted by tacodave at 4:16 PM on June 11, 2015

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