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Anxiety

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Can anxiety cause night sweats? 8 tips to stop night sweats

Written by Klarity Editorial Team

Published: Apr 5, 2024

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zoe Russell

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Can anxiety cause night sweats? Absolutely. Whether you have anxiety and experience night sweats or have night sweats and are wondering if anxiety is the cause, we’ve got you covered. 

In this post, we explore the many causes of night sweats. From an anxiety disorder to certain medications or even menopause, we help you figure out the cause of your night sweats and provide tips to prevent them from ruining your night (and your bed sheets). We cover:

  • The reasons behind why night sweats happen
  • The relationship between anxiety and night sweats
  • Tips to reduce night sweats

If you have anxiety symptoms and want to reduce night sweats and improve your sleep quality, consider seeking anxiety treatment through the anxiety experts on Klarity. Klarity makes online mental health treatment fast and convenient.

Anxiety and Night Sweats: Understanding the Connection

Anxiety, a complex condition with widespread effects on physical health, often leads to various symptoms, including night sweats. This physical manifestation arises from anxiety’s impact on the body’s stress response mechanisms, activating the fight-or-flight response during the night. This primal reaction, designed to prepare the body for perceived threats, increases heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, subsequently triggering sweat glands in an effort to cool down, which results in night sweats.

These occurrences are particularly common in individuals suffering from anxiety disorders, where anxious thoughts and concerns intensify in the stillness of the night, leading to sleep disturbances characterized by excessive sweating. Moreover, anxiety-induced night sweats can perpetuate a detrimental cycle, diminishing sleep quality and amplifying anxiety symptoms, thereby making it challenging to interrupt this pattern without proper intervention. The repeated awakening in a sweat-soaked state elevates stress levels, reinforcing the anxiety and night sweat cycle, adversely affecting cognitive functions, mood, and overall well-being.

Numerous anxiety disorders are associated with sleep disturbances, such as:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Thought Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Phobias

For those experiencing night sweats as a symptom of anxiety or other underlying conditions like sleep apnea, it’s crucial to seek consultation from a mental health professional trained in anxiety disorders to explore effective treatment strategies.

Discover a tailored approach to anxiety treatment that fits your unique needs.

Other potential causes of night sweats

You might wake up in the middle of the night in soaking wet sheets drenched in sweat for many reasons. Night sweating is an experience that everyone has from time to time, and the cause can be as simple as it being too hot in your bedroom on a night when you’ve had too many spicy foods and alcoholic drinks.

Night sweats become a problem when they are commonplace and frequently disrupt your ability to get a decent night’s sleep. If your frequent night sweats are a symptom of an anxiety disorder, the only way to effectively treat them is to treat the cause — the anxiety disorder.

High stress levels

A person doesn’t need an anxiety disorder diagnosis to go through a stressful or difficult time. When people are under considerable stress, like dealing with a tragedy, illness, or changing life circumstances, their sleep cycles can be negatively affected.

Cortisol and sleep

Cortisol, the stress hormone, is an integral part of the fight-or-flight response and is responsible for triggering rapid increases in heart rate, hyperventilation, sweating, and heightened alertness. It’s also a vital regulator of your body’s sleep and wakefulness cycle — a circadian rhythm.

Circadian rhythms are physical and mental changes that occur over a 24-hour cycle. Cortisol levels fluctuate through several cycles over the day and are heavily involved in regulating periods of sleep and wakefulness.

When cortisol levels are too high due to stress, trauma, anxiety, or a hormone imbalance (such as menopause), a person’s sleep and wakefulness cycle can become disturbed, leading to poor sleep and temperature dysregulation throughout the night.

Periods of increased stress are a normal part of daily life. However, the sleep disturbances they can cause are still a nuisance. If your night sweats are due to situational stress, take active measures to reduce cortisol levels.

  • Meditate
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Exercise
  • Eat fewer highly-processed foods
  • Eat antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables
  • Consider taking fish oil and ashwagandha supplements  

Drinking alcohol before going to sleep

Increasingly, studies show that alcohol is more harmful to the body and mind than previously thought. However, from a scientific standpoint, alcohol is an interesting chemical. 

In the human body, alcohol acts as a depressant in some ways and as a stimulant in others. For example, it depresses the respiratory system, making breathing more difficult, but it stimulates the circulatory system, which causes an increase in heart rate.

Both of these functions increase body temperature, even when you sleep. So, drinking alcohol directly increases the chances of experiencing night sweats and getting poor sleep.  

Stressful nightmares and sleep paralysis

Nightmares and sleep paralysis can also cause night sweats. When you have a vivid, lucid nightmare or experiences sleep paralysis, the fight-or-flight response often gets triggered, causing a panic attack or similar episode while asleep. 

When these dream-induced panic attacks wake you up, you’re usually drenched in sweat because your nervous system is agitated.

Everyone experiences nightmares from time to time. However, chronic nightmares and the night sweats accompanying them could be symptoms of mood, anxiety, or sleep disorders.  

Medications

Certain medications and medical treatments can cause night sweats and body temperature dysregulation.

  • Some antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
  • Hormone replacement therapy like Estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) or combined estrogen-progestin therapy (EPT) for women.
  • Methadone (used to treat opioid use disorder)
  • Hypoglycemic agents (used to treat low blood sugar for people with diabetes) such as insulin, sulfonylureas, and meglitinides.

Hyperhidrosis

Some people have hyperhidrosis, which causes them to sweat excessively, even when they’re not hot or exercising. People with hyperhidrosis experience distracting and uncomfortable bouts of sweating that interfere with their daily lives, causing embarrassment and discomfort. 

Excessive sweating causes severe emotional distress and social anxiety for people with hyperhidrosis. Hyperhidrosis also causes sweating at night. 

Menopause

Hormonal fluctuations are a normal part of a woman’s menstrual cycle. As a woman ages, the amount of estrogen she produces decreases, triggering a transitional phase called perimenopause and eventually the post-reproductive phase called menopause.

Hot flashes or hot flushes, as they are sometimes known, are vasomotor symptoms that occur when gonadal hormone levels (estrogen in this case) start to drop. Vasomotor symptoms refer to physiological changes in blood vessel dilation and constriction, often associated with fluctuations in body temperature. When these vasomotor symptoms occur at night, they’re called night sweats.

Night sweats are a common symptom that perimenopausal and menopausal women experience — as many as 75 to 80% of women going through menopause experience hot flashes and night sweats.

Sleeping environment: Sleepwear and room temperature

Night sweats aren’t always caused by a medical condition or mental health disorder. Sometimes, night sweats are caused by environmental factors like falling asleep in a hot room with too many clothes or blankets on. 

The ideal bedroom temperature for sleeping is about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Our body temperatures fall slightly in the evening and through the night as part of our normal circadian rhythms. Cooler temperatures at night help keep this system in balance.

If it’s too hot at night, our bodies have trouble following these circadian rhythms. Use a seasonally appropriate blanket to prevent night sweats and poor sleep and keep your bedroom as cool as possible. 

The relationship between anxiety and night sweats

If your night sweats are caused by anxiety, it’s possible that your night sweats can worsen other anxiety symptoms, which further increases the chances that you experience night sweats. 

To explain how this relationship works, we first must explore how anxiety can cause poor sleep. Anxiety is described as a feeling of dread, fear, and worry. To be clear, everyone experiences anxiety. However, not everyone experiences persistent anxiety that prevents them from functioning socially and interpersonally.

People who have anxiety disorders can’t control the feelings of worry and dread that overwhelm them. Their anxious, fearful thoughts might not have an identifiable cause. Plus, those thoughts are usually disproportionate to the actual danger or risk.

When people are agitated due to anxiety or a panic attack, they have trouble winding down and relaxing their bodies—even when they are exhausted and need to sleep. Their excited state, made more intense by racing, intrusive thoughts, is a recipe for poor sleep and night sweats.

How can you tell if night sweats are caused by an anxiety disorder?

If your night sweats are persistent and accompanied by nightmares or intense feelings of doom or dread, it could be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of anxiety

If you experience some of the following symptoms regularly and they interfere with your daily life, then you may have an anxiety disorder.

  • Restlessness
  • Feeling on edge or wound up
  • Getting tired easily
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Racing Heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Trembling 
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Feelings of being out of control
  • Headaches 
  • Unexplained pains, stomach aches, gastrointestinal issues
  • Unable to relax or control feelings of worry or panic
  • Sleep problems, such as nightmares, night sweats, or insomnia

If you think your night sweats might be part of a larger anxiety disorder, talk with an anxiety-trained mental health provider on Klarity, who can help you get to the bottom of your night sweats.

8 tips to stop night sweats

If your night sweats are caused by anxiety, menopause, hormone disorders, or another medical condition, then treating the underlying illness or condition is the best way to reduce them. However, there are small, easy-to-follow steps you can take to reduce the chances of experiencing night sweats and/or minimize their severity. 

  1. Wear breathable clothes to bed

Clothes that trap and hold heat can raise your body temperature while you sleep. Consider many factors, such as material, thickness and how many layers you wear. 

  1. Use a seasonally appropriate blanket

Some people don’t change their blankets seasonally, which can cause nighttime temperature dysregulation. Thick, heavy blankets might be appropriate in the winter cold, but are less so in the dead of summer. Consider switching the thick blankets for lighter sheets in the summer months to help prevent night sweats. 

  1. Place a cold towel on your forehead

If you’re prone to night sweats, have a cold compress ready in the fridge or freezer. If you’re feeling warm and on the verge of night sweats, apply the cold compress to your forehead, wrists, and neck to help you cool down.

  1. Adjust your thermostat

If your room is too warm, it can interfere with your body’s natural temperature cycles. Remember, the ideal room temperature for sleeping is about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t wish to turn on the air conditioner, try using a fan or opening a window to reduce the heat in your bedroom. 

  1. Avoid alcohol and coffee before sleeping

Monitor what you eat and drink, especially as the day wears on. Caffeine and alcohol can interfere with your body’s natural circadian rhythms, disrupting sleep, raising body temperature, and increasing anxiety — and the chances of night sweats. 

Consume less than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day and try to limit intake to the morning or early afternoon. For alcohol, men shouldn’t exceed 2 drinks per day, and women shouldn’t exceed 1.

  1. Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help regulate your body temperature and reduce the severity of night sweats.

  1. Practice relaxation techniques

Stress and anxiety can contribute to night sweats. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga can help reduce stress and improve sleep quality.

  1. Avoid spicy foods

Spicy foods can increase body temperature and trigger night sweats. Avoiding or limiting your intake of spicy foods, especially before bedtime, can help reduce night sweats.

A provider on Klarity can help you treat anxiety that causes night sweats

Klarity helps connect people to anxiety-trained mental health providers who can diagnose and prescribe anxiety medication online as needed. We’ve already helped 30,000 people find high-quality, affordable mental healthcare.

In under 48 hours, connect with an anxiety-trained mental health provider who can diagnose and prescribe medication online if necessary. 

Find a provider online or in person on Klarity today!

When should I be concerned about night sweats?

Night sweats should be considered a cause for concern if they occur regularly and without a clear reason, such as a hot sleeping environment or heavy blankets. It’s particularly important to pay attention if they’re accompanied by other symptoms, such as unexplained weight loss, fever, localized pain, or signs of infection. 

Persistent night sweats that disrupt your sleep and affect your daily life warrant a consultation with a healthcare provider to rule out underlying medical conditions like anxiety disorders, hormonal imbalances, or other health issues.

Can anxiety alone cause night sweats?

Yes, everday anxiety as well as anxiety disorders can indeed cause night sweats on its own. Anxiety triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response, leading to increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. This physiological response can activate sweat glands, especially during the night, as the body attempts to manage and regulate its internal temperature.

If you’re experiencing night sweats alongside symptoms of an anxiety disorder, such as persistent worry, agitation, or panic attacks, it’s advisable to seek the guidance of a mental health professional.

How can I differentiate night sweats caused by anxiety from those caused by other conditions?

Night sweats caused by anxiety are often accompanied by other anxiety symptoms, such as racing thoughts, excessive worry, palpitations, and a sense of dread or impending doom, particularly at night. In contrast, night sweats caused by other medical conditions may come with additional specific symptoms. 

For example, menopause-related night sweats might coincide with hormonal fluctuations and hot flashes, while night sweats from infections might be accompanied by fever and chills. Keeping a symptom diary and discussing your observations with a healthcare provider can help differentiate the causes.

What immediate steps can I take to manage night sweats caused by anxiety?

To manage night sweats related to anxiety, consider implementing relaxation techniques before bedtime, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or gentle yoga, to help calm your mind and body. Ensure your sleeping environment is cool and comfortable, and wear light, breathable nightwear. 

Avoiding stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, especially in the hours leading up to sleep, can also help. If anxiety and night sweats persist, reaching out to a mental health professional for tailored advice and treatment options is a crucial step.

Are there long-term strategies to prevent anxiety-induced night sweats?

Long-term strategies for preventing night sweats caused by anxiety focus on managing the underlying anxiety itself. Regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy diet, and establishing a consistent sleep routine can all contribute to reduced anxiety levels. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other forms of psychotherapy can be effective in addressing the thought patterns and behaviors that fuel anxiety. In some cases, medication may be recommended as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. A mental health professional can provide guidance on the most appropriate strategies based on your specific situation.

Can changing my diet affect night sweats?

Yes, dietary choices can influence night sweats. Spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol are known to trigger or worsen night sweats in some individuals. Consuming these substances, especially close to bedtime, can increase body temperature and stimulate the body’s sweat response. Incorporating cooling foods and staying well-hydrated can help manage your body’s temperature regulation.

Additionally, a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can support overall health and potentially reduce anxiety-related symptoms, including night sweats.

Sources

“Anxiety Disorders.” National Insitute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders.

“Circadian Rhythms.” National Institute of General Medical Sciences. https://nigms.nih.gov/education/fact-sheets/Pages/circadian-rhythms.aspx.

Danielle Pacheco. “Alcohol and Sleep.” Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/alcohol-and-sleep.

Danielle Pacheo. “The Best Temperature For Sleep.” Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/best-temperature-for-sleep.

Jay Summer. “What Causes Night Sweats in Women?” Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/night-sweats/women

Natalie Silver. “Night Sweats Causes and When You Should See a Doctor.” Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/when-to-be-concerned-about-night-sweats.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Night Sweats.” Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/night-sweats/basics/causes/sym-20050768

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Hyperhidrosis.” Mayo Clinic.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyperhidrosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20367152

MedlinePlus Staff. “Anxiety.” National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/anxiety.html

Rebecca Joy Stanborough. “How Does Cortisol Affect Your Sleep?” Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/cortisol-and-sleep.

“What are the five major types of anxiety disorders?” U.S. Department of Health and Human Serviceshttps://www.hhs.gov/answers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse/what-are-the-five-major-types-of-anxiety-disorders/index.html.

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