How do I cure my night sweats?
November 1, 2007 10:23 AM   Subscribe

How do I stop the night sweats? I am a female, 20s, not on or coming off of any medications or substances, though I do take vitamins. For the past couple winters (weirdly, only in winter, maybe once or twice in warmer weather) I have regularly had night sweats. Sometimes I wake up and everything is soaked, a pain not just for me but for my boyfriend as well. The only thing that helps a little is sleeping nude without blankets, but then I'm freezing and can't sleep anyway. I'm not sick. What could be causing this?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (25 answers total)
8 causes of night sweats (
posted by Craig at 10:38 AM on November 1, 2007

Judging from google results, there are mild to serious potential causes and only a doctor can give you a definitive answer. Some of the listed possibilities are serious enough that I wouldn't really hesitate to get a professional opinion.
posted by empyrean at 10:38 AM on November 1, 2007

Like empyrean, I think you should see a doctor, but I did experience these in my 20s and nothing was seriously wrong with me. They went away of their own accord. No cause was ever found.
posted by desjardins at 10:51 AM on November 1, 2007

My first fear would be lymphoma. That's just me though.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 10:53 AM on November 1, 2007

I get night sweats if I go to bed too soon after eating - an empty-ish stomach makes for better sleep, for me.
posted by anadem at 11:05 AM on November 1, 2007

as already stated above, it could be lymphoma. tests can determine whether this is the case, go to a doctor. if you cannot really afford, consider that credit card debt sucks, lymphoma sucks worse
posted by matteo at 11:08 AM on November 1, 2007

I sweat at night if I can't move around, especially if I get trapped on my back (I start struggling and having panicky nightmares). Adding an electric mattress pad keeps me warm enough to sleep with only lighter blankets, it sounds like that would help you, too. Also I don't ever tuck my blankets in, tucked in blankets = trapped = nightmares = hell.
posted by anaelith at 11:24 AM on November 1, 2007

Wow anaelith---I thought I was the only one who freaks OUT if I wake up hot. I usually puke my guts out too. I often keep my windows open in winter just to combat it...but then I have 2 cold dogs who snuggle up on either side of me and trap me in blanket hell.

What vitamins are you taking, and when are you taking them? If I take my multi after about noon it screws me up until the next day. Could also be a vitamin D deficiency, since you're not getting normal sun in winter, could be some weird offset of SAD, could be lots of things. Oh, and I can't take melatonin, it wrecks me. If I want to make sure I sleep extra soundly, I take valerian, but just 1 cap, not 3 like the bottle suggests.
posted by TomMelee at 11:27 AM on November 1, 2007

The first thing I thought when you said you were taking vitamins was that niacin (vit B3) can cause flushing or sweating. However, this is only happening in the winter? Maybe it has something to do with your heater. I know if I try to sleep in a t-shirt or something with a similarly high neckline, I always wake up sweating. My solution is a tank top or to go topless and several layers of blankets that I can throw off in the night if needed. A fan might help, too.

Night sweats *are* a symptom of some pretty ominous-sounding conditions, though. Could be low blood sugar, could be something else. I think, though, that since your symptoms are seasonal, it's probable that WHEN YOU GO TO YOUR DOCTOR, he or she will tell you it's something minor.

(note emphasis)
posted by eldiem at 11:32 AM on November 1, 2007

follow up from the OP
I would be worried it was lymphoma or some other disease, if this didn't happen virtually only at winter, if it was accompanied by no other symptoms of illness, and if it hadn't been happening for a couple of years--if it was lymphoma in particular I should be dead now. I don't sweat abnormally throughout the rest of the day. I just wake up at night soaked in a cold sweat. It is not accompanied by nightmares.

I appreciate linking to the article, but I have read similar things and I don't have any of the causes listed there.
posted by jessamyn at 11:47 AM on November 1, 2007

My first thought was hot flashes, which could be a symptom of early menopause. According to this some women still have periods during early menopause (at least at some point).

Nth-ing going to a doctor.
posted by 6550 at 11:55 AM on November 1, 2007

Do you eat high-carb snacks at night? I have no scientific evidence for this (except perhaps the hypoglycemia reference on the article) but if I have a hot fudge sundae within an hour or so of going to bed there is a good chance I will have a soaking wet pillow and sheets a few hours into the night.

Once I finally gave up my nightly ice-cream-fest my night sweats have all but disappeared.

Before-bed ice cream also puts me into a near-stupor sleep that is deeper and MUCH harder to wake from than a "normal" night's sleep.
posted by chocolate_butch at 11:59 AM on November 1, 2007

Seeing the follow up, if it is hot flashes perhaps you sleep much warmer in winter by the time you've got all the blankets on than in summer. You might try sleeping with fewer blankets for awhile, at least on your side of the bed. Not enough to be cold but just not too warm.
posted by 6550 at 11:59 AM on November 1, 2007

Things that help me with this problem: no late night eating. All natural bedding: cotton sheets, wool blankets, silk-wool-cotton mattress padding. (Synthetic fibers are non-absorbent and do not help regulate body temperature in the same way as wool.) Cool temps at night, in the bedroom, glass of water before bed. My partner and I sleep under the same sheet, but I have a light wool blanket and he has a duvet.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:11 PM on November 1, 2007

it could be lupus
posted by goo at 12:23 PM on November 1, 2007

It's never lupus.
posted by sun-el at 12:26 PM on November 1, 2007 [2 favorites]

Here's my thought based on this sometimes happening to me. Your body's cold because it's winter and it's time for sleep. You like to be warm, so you put on a ton of blankets or turn up the heat, or both. As you're sleeping, things even out in your body, and suddenly your environment is too hot, so you sweat.

At least that's why I always thought I get sweaty at night in the witner sometimes.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:34 PM on November 1, 2007

/me hugs sun-el.

Get thee to a doctor! (Says the boy who had Lymphoma.)
posted by cmiller at 12:35 PM on November 1, 2007

For a less ominous cause, consider the climate of your room. If the bedroom door is open all day, and then you shut it at night when you sleep, a few cycles of your furnace kicking on may raise the temperature in your room beyond the comfortable level when you first snuggled in and fell asleep. Your BF be less sensative to temperature and not notice the effects as much as you.
posted by A Long and Troublesome Lameness at 12:38 PM on November 1, 2007

Wear a night cap.

At night your head is cold so your body is heating up to compensate hence the sweats.

I used to have this problem -- like you, only during winter -- as did a few friends and this was the solution.
posted by i_cola at 1:44 PM on November 1, 2007

My down comforter sometimes makes me sweat like a pig.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:51 PM on November 1, 2007

I am in my 20s as well and also occasionally have night sweats. If I have them several nights in a row I pop an off brand cheapo Walmart anti-menopause pill. Embarrassing as hell to buy the pills but one usually stops them in their tracks and I won't have them again for months.
posted by CwgrlUp at 5:29 PM on November 1, 2007

Do you change your diet or exercise patterns or get more stressed in winter? Traditional chinese medicine says it's a lack of "yin." Another key sign of this is hot palms and feet. I know this doesn't sound scientific, but hey, maybe science will eventually find some micro-nutrient deficiency that explains this pattern.

I got night sweats and hot palms when I was doing Bikram yoga (exercising for 90 minutes in a 105 degree room). I was sweating gallons, which I guess depleted the "yin," and I was really craving some of these foods. (It was really noticable how much I suddenly wanted seaweed salad and pears all the time. And it wasn't confirmation bias, since I hadn't read this list yet.)

From this website about night sweats & hepatitis C (which I'm assuming you don't have, since that would be year round):
Symptoms of yin deficiency include night sweats, fatigue, restlessness, insomnia, flushed cheeks, warm palms and soles, a dry mouth, red lips, and low-grade afternoon fevers. Therefore, TCM approaches night sweats by fortifying yin. Those trained in TCM utilize a variety of techniques and/or herbal prescriptions to tonify the yin. Countless case studies document night sweats disappearing under the care of a TCM practitioner. Although less potent than acupuncture or Chinese herbs, consuming the following foods can also help fortify yin:

· Grains – barley, millet
· Beans – adzuki beans, kidney beans, black beans, black soya beans, mung beans
· Protein – eggs, beef, pork, duck, oyster, clams, crab, octopus, fish
· Flavorings – sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, walnuts
· Vegetables – asparagus, artichokes, peas, regular and sweet potatoes, seaweed, yams, tomatoes
· Fruits – apples, pears, pomegranates, watermelon, bananas, avocadoes
This link about night sweats and HIV has herbs to boost yin.

Since both those links associate night sweats with serious diseases, it really might be worth asking your doctor about it.
posted by salvia at 5:46 PM on November 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

This may be so obvious as to be stupid of me to even suggest, but I have the exact same thing going on and I KNOW it's because I have steam/radiator heat in my apartment over which I have no control and it comes on full blast at various points in the middle of the night and I end up having to kick all the covers off and open a window until I get cold again.
posted by Jess the Mess at 6:40 PM on November 1, 2007

I get these all the time, have done for years, and I do not have lymphoma, hep, an auto-immune disease, hyperthyroidism, um, or anything else wrong with me except asthma. If I do have cancer I've had it for at least 15 years and it's not been found.

I've also asked my doctor and I don't get much of a response - usually it's "sleep with fewer bedclothes".

I do, however, suffer occasionally from low blood sugar symptoms. But unless I get up and eat in the middle of the night I'm not sure what can be done.

So I live with it, basically.

Of course, I am not you - you may have a serious condition, ask your doctor, etc. But it does seem that some people just get night sweats - like me.
posted by jasperella at 3:15 AM on November 2, 2007

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