The Ultimate Sweat Resource

Why Some People Experience Excessive Sweating at Night?

Night sweats can cause excessive sweating at night that can be very severe. Night sweats occur at night during sleep and a person can wake up at night with heavily drenched bed sheets and sleepwear. Therefore, night sweats are not caused necessarily by hot or humid environment but rather it is cause by some underlying medical conditions.

Excessive sweating at night can make a person deprive of sleep and cause sleeping disorders. Therefore, night sweats are also called as sleep Hyperhidrosis (profuse sweating occurring during sleeping).

What are the Symptoms of night sweats?

Night sweat can be caused by several reasons. It can be hereditary (genetic) or it can be caused because of some illness. The most widely occurring symptoms may include-

  • Excessive sweating only at night and very rarely during day time.
  • A person often wakes up soaked in a sweat. The beddings are soaked and appear damp (clammy).
  • In case of some illness like cancers, a person may experience night sweats with chills and fever.

What are the causes of excessive sweating at night (night sweats)?

Idiopathic hyperhidrosis:

Idiopathic hyperhidrosis is the excessive sweating which is caused by unknown reasons. It is of three types-

  • Primary idiopathic hyperhidrosis or focal hyperhidrosis:

Primary hyperhidrosis is common and can affect people of all ages (mostly adults). The main caused behind excessive sweating is unknown. All parts of the body sweat symmetrically for instance both palms and armpits. Primary hyperhidrosis can be caused by a hereditary factor. Primary idiopathic sweating can be trigger by some factors such as anxiety, spicy foods etc.

  • Secondary idiopathic or focal hyperhidrosis:

Secondary focal sweating is caused on a specific part of the body and may be caused due to some medical conditions such as injury in the spinal cord.

  • Generalized hyperhidrosis:

People with generalized hyperhidrosis usually sweats all over the body due to some underlying illness such as infections, panic disorders, hormone disorders, heart problems etc.

Medical conditions:

Infections such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV are accompanied with fever and chills. This can cause night sweats. Other medical illness that causes night sweats includes diabetes, cancers, endocarditis, hyperthyroidism etc.


Medications such as anti-depressants, cortisone drugs, neurological disorder drugs, acetaminophen, lipid disorder drugs, and other drugs can cause profuse sweating at night. Diabetic patient on insulin injections or oral anti-diabetic drugs may also experience excessive night sweating.

Hormonal changes:  women during menopause experience hormonal imbalances (lowered estrogen levels) and this can cause night sweats. Night sweats in men can also be caused during andropause (male menopause) where male hormone -progesterone levels experiences fluctuations.

Sleep apnea:

Sleeping disorder like sleep apnea can cause night sweats. See a doctor if you snores severely and experience sleepiness during day time.

Foods and drinks:

Certain foods and drinks such as spicy foods, caffeine drinks (coffee) etc can trigger excessive night sweating.

 Neurological disorders:

Neurological disorders such as stroke, autonomic neuropathy, autonomic dysreflexia, cerebral palsy, chronic paroxysmal hemicranias, familial dysautomia, pheochromocytoma etc can cause excessive night sweats too.


Night sweats can be treated with medications such as propranol, propentheline bromide (anti-cholinergic drugs) and Ditropan (oxybutynin). Also Botox can be used to treat profuse sweating at night. However, there may be severe side-effects associated with these drugs.

Related posts:

  1. What is Night Sweat?
  2. What Causes Night Sweat?
  3. Sweating at Night While Sleeping
  4. Understanding night sweats in men:
  5. Night Sweats in Men Over 50

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