Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night or when the alarm clock goes off in the morning drenched in sweat? From pajamas to sheets to pillowcase, everything is wet through and through. Well, if this sounds familiar and you can relate, then you probably know that this is typical for anyone who suffers from night sweats.
Now, it is a normal physiologic occurrence to have a night sweat or two if your bedroom is overly heated, you have too many blankets or are wearing pajamas that are too heavy, exercise right before going to sleep or consume a spicy meal for dinner. However, in most instances, night sweats occur in women as extreme hot flashes as they go through the rite of passage of menopause. Other less common causes of night sweats can be the following: tuberculosis, lymphoma, low blood sugar and a condition known as idiopathic hyperhidrosis, whereby a person sweats too much without a known medical cause.
What Causes Sweat
As humans, we have our very own internal air conditioning system. When the temperature dial soars outside or when we pump up the volume to exercise, we cool our bodies down by producing sweat. This type of sweat is normal and comes as no surprise but when it happens at night and we get uncomfortable to the point of losing sleep. Well, that’s not fun and can be quite disturbing, and even more so when you realize that each person has somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 to 4 million sweat glands. You could literally end up in a lake when you have night sweats.
Our bodily temperature control system is guided by a gland called the hypothalamus. When the temperature of our body soars, this will trigger our sweat glands, specifically the eccrine glands, to kick into action. Other factors that alert the hypothalamus to start producing sweat are drops in estrogen (as in menopause), the flu or a virus and medications. And if you are a man and happen to have low testosterone or be on certain prostate cancer medication, you too can experience the male version of hot flashes.
When to Seek Treatment for Night Sweats
If night sweats have become a regular occurrence after ruling out environmental factors as possible cause, and sleep is consistently interrupted, it is probably best to visit a physician. After taking down a thorough medical history, your physician might order blood work, hormone and thyroid tests to get to the bottom of the cause of your night sweats.
In the meantime, there are a couple of tips to lessen the incidence and discomfort of night sweats:
- Experiment with the thermostat in your home.
- For some, herbal supplements, such as black cohosh in the form of pills or tea, can decrease the number of nightly hot flashes.
- Use antiperspirant before going to sleep. Most of us put on antiperspirant under our arms during the day, as it works to block the production of sweat. Within the product is aluminum, which makes the sweat glands shrink and close, and hence we sweat less.
- If you are experiencing severe night sweats or suffer from hyperhidrosis, you might be given a prescription for Robinul as it blocks certain fluids from being secreting by the body. Or another option would be to get Botox® injections, which was actually approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) back in 2004 as a treatment option for hyperhidrosis.
If you have night sweats, trouble sleeping or suspect you might have sleep apnea, please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.