What Is Behind Night Sweat?

Night sweats, or excessive sweating during sleep, are a common symptom in women and men.

Doctors treat the problem by diagnosing the cause of your night sweats.

What are night sweats?

Doctors in primary care fields of medicine often hear their patients complain of night sweats because they are common. Night sweats refer to any excess sweating occurring during the night. However, if you keep your bedroom temperature unusually hot or you are sleeping in too many clothes, you may sweat during your sleep, which is normal. In order to distinguish night sweats that arise from medical causes from those that occur because one’s surroundings are too warm, doctors generally refer to true night sweats as severe hot flashes occurring at night that can drench sleepwear and sheets, which are not related to an overheated environment.

In one study of 2267 patients visiting a primary care doctor, 41% reported experiencing night sweats during the previous month, so the perception of excessive sweating at night is common. It is important to note that flushing (a warmth and redness of the face or trunk) also may be hard to distinguish from true night sweats.

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What Are Night Sweats a Sign Of?

Medically Reviewed on 2/25/2021

A woman in bed sweating. Many medical conditions and diseases can cause night sweats.Source: Getty Imagesnull

Night sweats facts

Night sweats, or excessive sweating during sleep, are a common symptom in women and men.

Doctors treat the problem by diagnosing the cause of your night sweats.

What are night sweats?

Doctors in primary care fields of medicine often hear their patients complain of night sweats because they are common. Night sweats refer to any excess sweating occurring during the night. However, if you keep your bedroom temperature unusually hot or you are sleeping in too many clothes, you may sweat during your sleep, which is normal. In order to distinguish night sweats that arise from medical causes from those that occur because one’s surroundings are too warm, doctors generally refer to true night sweats as severe hot flashes occurring at night that can drench sleepwear and sheets, which are not related to an overheated environment.null

In one study of 2267 patients visiting a primary care doctor, 41% reported experiencing night sweats during the previous month, so the perception of excessive sweating at night is common. It is important to note that flushing (a warmth and redness of the face or trunk) also may be hard to distinguish from true night sweats.

A man in bed with a fever sweating. Night sweats due to the menopausal transition are typically accompanied by other symptoms of menopause such as vaginal dryness, daytime hot flashes, and mood changes.Source: iStock

What are other signs and symptoms of night sweats?

Depending upon the underlying cause of the night sweats, other symptoms may occur in association with sweating. For example:

  • Certain infections and cancers
  • Shaking and chills can sometimes occur if you have a fever.
  • Unexplained weight loss due to lymphoma.
  • Night sweats due to the menopausal transition are typically accompanied by other symptoms of menopause such as vaginal dryness, daytime hot flashes, and mood changes.
  • Night sweats that occur as a side effect of medications can be accompanied by other medication side effects, depending upon the specific drug. Read More

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