Struggling with night sweats? Here’s why they happen and what treatment you can get

You might find your night sweats get worse in winter (Picture: Getty Images/

You get into bed all snug and cosy, pyjamas on and blankets layered ready for a good night’s sleep, only to find yourself woken in the middle of the night, dripping in sweat and throwing all your covers off.

This is the curse of night sweats – and it’s ruined many the armpit of a pretty pj set, as well as disturbing your sleep which can have immediate health side effects.

Why do night sweats happen? And how can we stop this affliction in its tracks?

We asked the experts to help save us from another night of sweat-drenched sheets and ruined dreams.

What causes night sweats?

First off, let us be clear: it’s perfectly normal to sweat during the night. We sweat all the time, and the addition of warm bedding and pyjamas can make that more evident.

While you might think sleep-sweating would be more of an issue in the summer, it can actually become more problematic in winter.

‘Temperatures plummet and we begin to wrap ourselves in layers, ramp up the central heating and roll ourselves up in our heavy duvet which inevitably in some cases, leads to heavy underarm sweating during sleep – leaving bedding damp and the bedroom smelling like a school changing room,’ explains Dr Baldeep Farmah, aesthetic doctor and founder of Dr Aesthetica.

But night sweats become an issue when that night-time sweating becomes excessive – think soaked-through clothing and sweaty sheets – and happens even when it’s not warm.

Causes include:

Excess sweating can keep you up at night (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

How to treat night sweats

It’s worth talking to your GP if you’re regularly experiencing night sweats, if only to check that there’s not something wrong that could be causing them.

If they think night sweats are a side effect of medication, they may recommend an alternative. For those going through menopause, a doctor may recommend hormonal therapies.

If your night sweats don’t have an obvious cause, there are a couple of treatment options to lessen the effects.

‘Your GP may prescribe a stronger antiperspirant containing aluminium chloride hexahydrate and in extreme cases, some sufferers may opt for a low voltage electrical current treatment known as iontophoresis or even surgery to remove or disable the sweat glands,’ says Dr Baldeep. ‘Tablets containing propantheline are also available through the GP.’

A popular remedy for excess sweating is the use of Botox, which works to block the nerve signals and thus reduce sweat gland activity in certain areas.

Plastic and aesthetic surgeon Dr Aoife Turner explains: ‘Botox has been used for many years to treat this excessive sweating.

‘The treatment involves a couple of painless Botox injections, which take just a matter of minutes, injected just into the superficial area where the sweat glands are and safely reduces their activity.

‘The body will continue to naturally self-regulate its temperature minus those uncomfortable, irritating and sometimes embarrassing night sweats.’

Dr Baldeep notes that with repeated treatment, the sweat glands ‘eventually begin to product less moisture’, so you wouldn’t need to get Botox as regularly.

You can also reduce night sweats at home by avoiding triggers, such as stress, alcohol, spicy foods, smoking, and heavy blankets.

Try wearing pyjamas made of breathable fabrics, such as cotton or silk, and turning down your home’s central heating at night.

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