Anxiety can cause night sweats, but how? Just because you have the occasional night sweats doesn’t necessarily mean you have an anxiety disorder.
In this post, we explore the many causes of night sweats. From an anxiety disorder to certain medications, or even menopause, we’ll help you figure out the cause of your night sweats and provide tips to prevent it from ruining your night (and your bed sheets). We’ll cover—
- The reasons behind why night sweats occur.
- The relationship between anxiety and night sweats
- tips to reduce night sweats
If you have anxiety symptoms and want to reduce night sweating and improve your sleep quality, consider seeking anxiety treatment through Klarity. We make online mental health treatment fast and convenient.
When you book on Klarity, we’ll connect you with an anxiety-trained mental health professional who can diagnose and prescribe treatments to reduce your anxiety symptoms (including night sweats).
All you have to do is take our 2-minute assessment, and we’ll connect you with a medical provider in 48 hours or less.
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.
However, 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.
The physical symptoms of anxiety include the activation of your body’s fight-or-flight response.
When your body’s fight or flight response is activated, your heart rate increases and your blood vessels constrict, raising your body temperature. In response to rising body temperature, your nervous system activates your sweat glands. This leads to sweating at night, which interferes with your ability to fall asleep and get quality sleep.
If you have anxiety, you are more likely to experience night sweats because you are more likely to have your fight-or-flight response triggered while sleeping or trying to go to sleep.
People with anxiety disorders are more likely to be in an agitated, excited mental state. This wound-up, on-edge state can cause several sleep problems, including trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing sleep disturbances like nightmares and—you’ve guessed it—night sweats!
Anxiety Disorders With Night Sweats or Sleep Disturbances As a Symptom
Sleep disturbances are common for many anxiety disorders, including
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Thought Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Panic Disorder
If you have anxiety or another underlying medical condition, such as sleep apnea, that can cause profuse sweating due to panic or fear-related symptoms, you’ll want to consult an anxiety-trained mental health provider to learn about different treatment options for anxiety.
High Levels of Stress
However, 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 is 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.
- Practice mindfulness
- Reduce highly-processed foods
- Eat antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables
- Consider taking fish oil and ashwagandha supplements
Drinking Alcohol Before Going to Sleep
Increasingly, studies are proving alcohol to be more and 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. This 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 a person has a vivid, lucid nightmare or experiences sleep paralysis, the fight-or-flight response often gets triggered, causing them to experience a panic attack or similar episode while asleep.
When these dream-induced panic attacks cause a person to wake up, they are usually drenched in sweat because their nervous system is agitated.
Everyone experiences nightmares from time to time. However, chronic nightmares and the night sweats accompanying them could be a symptom of mood, anxiety, or sleep disorders.
Certain medications and medical treatments can cause night sweats and body temperature dysregulation.
- Some antidepressants
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Methadone (used to treat opioid use disorder)
- Hypoglycemic agents (used to treat low blood sugar for people with diabetes)
Some people have hyperhidrosis, which causes them to sweat excessively, even when they are 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.
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. When these vasomotor symptoms occur at night, they are 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 cannot 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.
- Feeling on edge or wound up
- Getting tired easily
- Poor concentration
- Irritability and agitation
- Racing Heartbeat
- Feelings of impending doom
- Feelings of being out of control
- Unexplained pains, stomach aches, G.I. issues
- Unable to relax or control feelings of worry or panic
- Sleep problems: nightmares, night sweats, 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.
- Wear Breathable Clothes to Bed
Clothes that trap and hold heat can cause your body temperature to rise while you sleep. Consider many factors, such as material, thickness, how many layers you wear, etc.
- 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 they 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.
- Place a Cold Towel on Your Forehead
If you are prone to night sweats, have a cold compress ready in the fridge or freezer. If you are feeling warm and on the verge of night sweats, apply the cold compress to your forehead, wrists, and neck to help cool down.
- 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 AC, try using a fan or opening a window to reduce the heat in your bedroom.
- 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.
For caffeine, stay under 400 mg daily; try to limit intake to the morning or early afternoon. For alcohol, men shouldn’t exceed more than two drinks per day, and women shouldn’t exceed one.
- Stay Hydrated:
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help regulate your body temperature and reduce the severity of night sweats.
- 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.
- 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.
Klarity Can Help You Treat Anxiety That Causes Night Sweats
If your night sweats are anxiety-related, developing a long-term anxiety reduction strategy is crucial for reducing their frequency. This may include exercising more, improving diet, considering therapy, and taking anxiety medication.
Klairty can help.
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.
We’ll connect you with an anxiety-trained mental health provider who can diagnose and prescribe medication online if necessary. Take our brief online 2-minute assessment, and we’ll connect you with an anxiety-trained mental health provider in under 48 hours.
Klarity’s telemedicine services are fast, affordable, and convenient.
“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.
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 Services. https://www.hhs.gov/answers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse/what-are-the-five-major-types-of-anxiety-disorders/index.html.