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Night Sweats and Sleep

Waking up in the middle of the night feeling clammy and drenched in sweat? Too hot to get back to sleep? You’re not alone.

Heavy night sweats are surprisingly common. In fact, in a survey we carried out, 34% of respondents reported excessive sweating at night. And with bed sweats being common in children too, it can be a big cause of disrupted sleep for the whole family, making you feel tired rather than refreshed in the morning.

But what are night sweats exactly? And how do you relieve sweating while sleeping at night? Read this guide to learn answers to these questions and how to combat night sweats for a happier, healthier sleep.

What are night sweats?

woman sleeping with night sweats

Are you experiencing bed sweats, or are you simply too hot in bed? Excess sweating in bed at night is entirely normal and can be caused by a variety of different factors. For example, you may just be overheating because the central heating is on, your bedding is far too heavy or because it’s a very warm night. But sweating during the night and heavy night sweats aren’t always one and the same. So what are night sweats? Unlike overheating, real bed sweats will wake you up from deep sleep with drenched bedding, and are more difficult to combat than just sweating in sleep.

Bed sweats usually occur when your body’s natural thermostat isn’t working perfectly. There are lots of different reasons why this can happen, from hormones to medication, and even certain foods and drinks. What’s more, they can happen to anyone – male or female, child or adult, in illness or in perfect health. The important thing to realise is that there are steps you can take to prevent sweating while sleeping at night. Wondering how to combat night sweats? Discover more about the causes of bed sweats, and ways to relieve the symptoms for happier, healthier sleep.

What causes night sweats?

Though irritating and uncomfortable, night sweats are usually harmless. But if you suddenly start excessively sweating in bed, it is always a good idea to have your GP check you over to help you identify the cause. Common causes of bed sweats include:
  • Menopause: 75% of women will experience excessive sweating at night while sleeping due to menopause. In fact, it’s one of the most common symptoms of sweating in sleep. They are basically ‘hot flushes’ or ‘hot flashes’ while you’re trying to sleep.
  • Infant/child overheating: It’s very common for young, growing children to overheat at night. We tend to warm up more in our deeper stages of sleep, which causes more trouble for little ones than adults due to immature temperature regulation systems and a greater proportion of sweat glands compared to body size.
  • Diabetes: When hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) happens during sleep, it can cause episodes of excessive sweating in sleep.
  • Sleep apnoea: Night sweats are a less obvious side effect of sleep apnoea, a condition that causes waking and restlessness during the night.
  • Other medical conditions and medication: A variety of other medical conditions, from infections to hormone disorders, can trigger heavy sweating in sleep. It can also be a side effect of taking certain medication.
  • Memory foam mattress: Because they’re made from purely synthetic materials, memory foam mattresses can’t regulate temperature or absorb the moisture that comes from excessive sweating at night. In fact, these mattresses need body heat in order to mould to your body shape and provide support. So if you’re sleeping on a memory foam mattress, it may not be the best bedding for night sweats.
  • Simply a warm sleeper: Not all night sweats are caused by medical conditions or the wrong choice of mattress. Some people are simply just warm sleepers. However, don’t worry, there are still ways for you to improve your sleep quality. Read on to find out how to prevent sweating in bed at night.

Once you’ve been checked over by your GP and have identified the cause of your bed sweats, you can begin working on how to combat night sweats, to help yourself sleep more comfortably.

best bedding for night sweats

Night sweats in men

While bed sweats are common in women during the menopause, it’s not unusual for men to experience excessive sweating in bed too – particularly if they have diabetes or are taking certain medication (for example, some types of cancer treatment). When it comes to managing night sweats in men, the advice is very similar to that for women. Read on below to learn more.

Anxiety night sweats

Bed sweats are often worrying and confusing, so it’s no surprise that some people can begin to experience feelings of anxiety concerning their health. Whether your sweats are due to anxiety issues that pre-exist, or they are the root of your concern, disturbed sleep is an unwelcome problem that may begin to affect our ability to function during the day.

Anxiety symptoms arise due to your brain’s fight or flight system signalling an inappropriate response to situations that don’t actually pose any threat. This means that blood rushes to the parts of your body needed to flee such threats, resulting in rises in body temperature and excessive sweating during the night. But although night sweats anxiety is uncomfortable and inconvenient, there are a number of things you can do to help:
  • Ensure the environment that you sleep in is cool (keep windows and doors open if possible and use a fan during warmer months).
  • If your anxiety night sweats are causing insomnia, try not to force sleep. Instead, get up and walk around so that you feel more relaxed.
  • Make sure you have the best bedding for night sweats. Wool bedding can absorb excess moisture and help to regulate temperature naturally – helping to manage excess sweating in bed.
  • If you are experiencing bed sweats due to anxiety you are facing in your everyday life, write down your thoughts in a journal. ‘Brain dumping’ is proven to help untangle the mind and help you let go of any feelings causing you discomfort.

How to prevent night sweats

We’re firm believers that bed sweats don’t have to be a nightmare. Simple tips such as leaving a window open, having a fan pointed at your bed, and keeping a glass of iced water nearby can all help to keep you cool throughout the night – as can avoiding synthetic nightwear and bed linen. Natural fibres such as cotton, linen and wool are breathable, helping to reduce sweating while sleeping at night. Swapping your polyester pyjamas and bed sheets for cotton alternatives is a great starting point for achieving better sleep. But it’s a little-known secret that changing your duvet, pillows and mattress to wool-filled alternatives can deliver far greater benefits – and it’s a small swap to make for a long-term change.

Contrary to popular belief, wool is a very cool fibre to sleep in, thanks to its superior natural ability to manage moisture. So, if you suffer from heavy sweating, this quality is crucial to waking less and sleeping more.
Find out how to combat night sweats with wool below.

How wool bedding can help with sweating in sleep

Wool is an amazing natural fibre that has evolved over thousands of years to keep sheep healthy. It’s a natural thermoregulator and can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in moisture. It’s also natural and renewable, hypoallergenic, antibacterial and dust mite free. When you begin to sweat at night, the dry wool fibres draw that moisture away from your skin and absorb it into the structure of the fibre. It’s common to sweat around half a litre of moisture every night but, if you are suffering from night sweats, it’s likely you’ll lose far more.

This moisture has to go somewhere, which is why wool’s natural ability to absorb liquid makes it the best duvet for hot flushes and heavy sweating caused by menopause or other medical conditions. Even a simple cotton sheet won’t perform as well to keep you cool as it can’t absorb as much moisture as wool. Cotton can absorb 10% its weight in moisture in comparison to wool’s 30%, which is why nature’s miracle material is the best duvet filling for bed sweats. So if you’re wondering how to prevent night sweats, choose a breathable duvet filled with wool to harness these benefits. Better still, combining a wool duvet with cotton sheets and covers will provide further benefit. Because what are night sweats when you have a wool duvet to cool you down?

Solutions for heavy night sweats from Woolroom

You’ll notice the difference immediately when switching to wool bedding – whether you choose a breathable duvet, mattress protector, mattress topper or pillows. However, the best solution is a complete set of wool bedding from Woolroom.

Our wool bedding bundles come with a 30-day money back sleep guarantee. So if you don’t see an improvement in your sleep after the full time period, we’ll give you a full refund. You can choose one of our pre-made bedding bundles, or alternatively you can select your ideal duvet, mattress protector/topper and pillows to make up your own custom bedding bundle that’s specifically designed to suit your needs. A good night’s sleep is invaluable to your health and wellbeing – which is why choosing wool bedding is one of the smartest investments you can make when it comes to fighting bed sweats.

Ready to reclaim your sleep routine? Try our tips on how to combat night sweats and let us know how you get on in the comments!