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?

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

So what are night sweats? And how do you relieve sweating at night while sleeping? Read this guide to learn answers to these questions and more.

What are night sweats?

Are you having night sweats, or are you simply too hot in bed? Heavy sweating at night 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. Real night sweats will wake you up from deep sleep with drenched bedding and are more difficult to solve than being too hot in bed.

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 at night while sleeping.

What causes night sweats?

Though irritating and uncomfortable, night sweats are usually harmless. If you suddenly begin experiencing night sweats it is always a good idea to have your GP check you over to help you identify the cause. Common causes of sweating at night 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. 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 at night.
  • Sleep apnoea: Night sweats are a less obvious side effect of sleep apnoea, a condition which 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 at night. 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 which 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 warm sleepers. However, don’t worry – there are still ways for you to improve your sleep quality. Read on to find out more.

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

Night sweats in men

While night sweats are common in women during the menopause, it’s not unusual for men to experience excessive sweating at night too, particularly if you have diabetes or are taking certain medications (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 and night sweats

Night 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 night 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 your 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. 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 and 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.
  • If you are experiencing night 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 sweating at night

We’re firm believers that night sweats don’t have to be a nightmare. Simple tips such as leaving a window open at night, having a fan pointed at your bed, and keeping a glass of iced water by your bed can all help to keep you cool. So can avoiding synthetic nightwear and bed linen. Natural fibres such as cotton, linen and wool are breathable, helping to reduce sweating at night. Swapping your polyester pyjamas and bed sheets for cotton alternatives is a great starting point for 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.

Contrary to popular belief, wool is a very cool fibre to sleep in, thanks to its superior natural ability to manage moisture. If you suffer with heavy night sweats, this quality is crucial to waking less and sleeping more.

How wool bedding can help with sweating during 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% 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. 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 ability to absorb moisture 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 wool is the best duvet filling for night sweats. So 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.

Solutions for night sweats from woolroom

You’ll notice the difference 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 sets come with a 30-day money back sleep guarantee – if you don't see an improvement in your sleep after 30 days, we'll give you a full refund. You can choose one of our pre-made bedding sets or alternatively you can select your ideal duvet, mattress protector/topper and pillows to make up your own custom bedding set. 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. 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.

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