Excessive Sweating While Sleeping: What’s Going On?

If you’ve ever woken up drenched in sweat to the point where a change of pajamas is required, you’ve probably experienced an episode of night sweating. If this happens to you often, you may be quite frustrated, as waking up covered in sweat is not only unpleasant, it’s quite an interruption to otherwise peaceful sleep.

So you’ve got some serious night sweats? Don’t panic. Tons of people worry about night sweats but far fewer are actually suffering from any sort of severe or dangerous medical condition. In fact, the most common cause of excessive body heat while sleeping in any demographic is simply the environment (i.e. too many blankets or thick pajamas).

In some cases, however, the cause of night sweats goes beyond environmental concerns. If you’ve turned down the heat, changed pajamas, and taken off layers of blankets, and you still find yourself waking up feeling like you just ran a marathon, you’ll want to read on. Still, there’s no reason to panic, as most of the known causes of night sweats are not hazardous to your health, and can be treated accordingly.

Excessive sweating in bed

"I'm soaked! There's no way I'm going to sleep."

5 Common Causes of Excessive Sweating at Night


  1. Side Effects of a Medication
    Quite often, excessive night sweats are caused by certain medications. There are a plethora of medications known to include excessive sweating as a side effect, such as all antidepressants and many other psychiatric drugs, niacin, medicines used to lower a fever (such as aspirin), hydralazine, tamoxifen, prednisone and many others. If you think this could be the cause of your night sweats, talk to your doctor about your medications and their side effects and see if it’s possible to switch to another, similar medication. Do not change your medication or dosage without first consulting your doctor!
  2. Menopause
    Menopause is a very common cause of night sweats in women when they reach that age. The excessive sweating at night is simply caused by the hot flashes that accompany this menopausal transition. Although menopause is a natural biological process and not a disease, you can still seek treatment advice from your doctor for dealing with the symptoms.
  3. Idiopathic Hyperhidrosis
    It’s may have a fancy name, but basically idiopathic hyperhidrosis is what they call the condition in which the body produces too much sweat without any identifiable medical cause. You can talk to your doctor about oral medications or prescription-strength antiperspirants if your night sweats are really creating a problem. The good news is that there is no underlying or dangerous condition to worry about!
  4. Infections
    Traditionally, tuberculosis is the infection most often associated with night sweats. However, bacterial infections can also lead to night sweats. Some of the more common infections that may produce excessive sweating while sleeping are endocarditis (inflamation of the heart valves), osteomyelitis (inflammation within the bones), brucellosis (a fever-inducing infection passed from animals to people).
  5. Hypoglycemia
    Low blood sugar, or hypoglcemia, causes sweating in many diabetics who are taking insulin or other oral anti-dieabetic medications to lower their blood sugar levels. When hypoglycemia happens in the night, it is often accompanied by sweating.

Excessive Sweating while Sleeping in Men

Many of the causes that cause excessive sweating for everyone hold true for men. However, since menopause is so often associated with excessive night sweats, the condition sometimes gets overlooked in men. However, many people don’t realize that men go through hormonal changes at a certain age too. Andropause, similar to menopause but often less prominent, can also cause night sweats as the body tries to adjust to changes in hormone levels. As with menopause, the problem will probably go away on its own. Night sweats also may occur in men as a side effect to the medication Viagra.

Excessive Sweating while Sleeping in Children

Are you worried because your child keeps waking up sweaty, in damp pajamas? Don’t worry yet! It’s actually quite common for young children to sweat more during sleep than adults. Excessive sweating while sleeping in children occurs because they spend more time in deep sleep, their temperature regulation systems aren’t as mature, and they have more sweat glands than their small bodies need. Your child could also be responding to environmental factors, like too many layers of pajamas. Even those adorable footed pajamas can be too warm for sleeping. Before you do anything else, try a change of night wear or turn down the heat in your child’s room.

Occasionally, night sweating in children is the symptom of a more serious underlying cause, such as an infection or diabetes. Check for these other symptoms accompanying your child’s night sweats to determine whether you should seek further medical help:

  • fever
  • snoring
  • gasping
  • pauses in breathing
  • any other symptoms of illness

If there are no other symptoms, the night sweats are probably normal and are nothing to worry about. However, if you’re still concerned, contact your child’s pediatrician.

Wrap Up

If none of these causes seem to match your case, you may want to talk with your doctor about your problem to rule out any serious underlying conditions or take a look at some of our other articles on night sweats (listed below). However, it’s important to stay calm and relaxed. When present by itself, night sweating is very rarely the symptom of any malignant disorders.

About Mariele Ventrice

I am a writer, reader, and expert napper. Sometimes, I sleep with the lights on.