Cold sweats at night – causes, symptoms and solutions
Clammy feet, sticky palms and muggy underarms… there’s nothing glamorous about waking up with cold sweats at night. Let’s find out what could be creating this inconvenient perspiration and what you can do to control it and achieve some uninterrupted (dry) sleep.
What are cold sweats?
Experiencing a cold sweat is usually your body’s fight-or-flight response to a situation. During sleep, this can often be brought on by nightmares, stress, or an underlying illness. You can experience a cold sweat alongside normal sweating as it’s not a result of temperatures or exercising.
Good to know: cold sweats at night, and night sweats, are not the same. Cold sweats produce minor sweating from body chills and are relegated to your hands, feet, and armpits. Night sweats, however, bring a heavier dose of dampness to not only your linen but your sleep too. Night sweats are firm sleep enemies created from more serious health issues, which can cause sleep deprivation.
Symptoms of cold sweats
Did you know that the body sweats as a way to keep itself cool? When you sweat, it’s in response to the environment or physical exertion and feels warm to the touch. However, if you’re sweating because of stress or anxiety, this type of sweat often feels cool instead of warm, chilling your body.
A cold sweat rarely occurs on its own and is associated with other symptoms. Depending on the cause and severity, it’s always good to pay attention to what is giving you this clammy experience.
Symptoms that may occur with a cold sweat include:
- Aches and pains
- Anxiety or stress
- Nausea and vomiting
5 Causes of cold sweats at night
A cold sweat is often caused by mental and emotional stress, anxiety, or panic. But, it can also be caused by a variety of hormonal changes, diet, and illness. If you feel like your cold sweat is abnormally disruptive to your sleep, you should visit your GP to get medical advice.
Common causes of cold sweats:
1. Anxiety or stress
Cold sweats can be a symptom of panic attacks and generalised anxiety. If you’re experiencing cold sweats, along with increasing and, at times, overwhelming levels of stress, you should visit a specialist to explore treatment options.
Changing hormone levels associated with menopause and perimenopause can prompt bursts of sweating. Menopause occurs when your body’s balance of two hormones, estrogen and progesterone, change dramatically at the end of your menstrual cycle. Along with sudden hot flashes, cold sweats are a symptom of menopause.
Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) can occur because of exercise or heat, but frequent cold sweats with hyperhidrosis can also occur without warning. This disorder can be genetic and usually not a health risk. However, if hyperhidrosis is disrupting your sleep, speak to your GP about treatment options.
A fever is usually a signal that your body is fighting an infection. If you’re feeling under the weather and suffering from a fever, this would usually be accompanied by cold sweats as your body tries to regulate your body temperature.
5. Low blood sugar
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) occurs when your blood sugar drops below normal. This can make you feel faint or dizzy and signal a cold sweat as your body experiences a fight-for-sugar situation.
How to stop cold sweats at night
All good sleep habits start with a balanced healthy lifestyle. These basic steps could help alleviate the symptoms in the short term:
- Get regular exercise
- Avoid stimulants before bedtime
- Practise relaxation techniques before bed, like meditation
- Sleep in a cool room
- Avoid certain foods before bed
- Wear loose-fitting clothes and pyjamas
When should you be concerned about cold sweats?
In some cases, cold sweats can be associated with a serious or life-threatening condition, such as angina, tuberculosis, or heart attack. All sleep disturbances start with diagnosing the root problem. Knowing what is causing your cold sweats will allow you to pinpoint exactly the type of treatment you need.
Long-term sleep interruptions are not normal, so whatever you can do to keep your sleep quality a 5-star (moisture-free) experience, start today.