Waking Up Sweating

If you experience waking up sweating more often than you used to, you may be suffering from sleep hyperhidrosis. Night sweat usually occur at night even when ambient temperature is cool. It can happen anytime when one is asleep, then suddenly waking up sweating and feeling very hot. It can be distressful and can lead to insomnia. This condition is different from flushing, which can also occur during daytime.

Types of Waking Up Sweating

Sleep hyperhidrosis comes in two types:

  • Primary hyperhidrosis occurs as localized sweating (focal hyperhidrosis).
  • Secondary hyperhidrosis occurs as generalized sweating, which is related to some medical condition.

Night sweats may occur at any age, usually starting during early adulthood. Sometimes no medical cause or explanation can be identified and this condition is known as idiopathic hyperhidrosis, which can affect different parts of the body (such as the palms, armpits, etc.)

Causes of Waking Up Sweating

There are many possible causes for you to wake up sweating. To find out what causes night sweat, medical consultation must be sought.

Environmental Causes

Cluttered bed, using many blankets, lack of room ventilation

Health Conditions


  • Tuberculosis, a condition accompanied by chronic pneumonia, cough, weight loss, and fever
  • Endocarditis or inflammation of heart valves
  • Cystitis or urinary bladder infection
  • Osteomyelitis or bone infection
  • Histoplasmosis , a fungal infection often associated with AIDS patients
  • Lung, liver or spleen abscess
  • Any infection with fever: bacterial infections like brucellosis, viral infections like mononucleosis , fungal infections like coccidioidomycosis

Other Diseases:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chest pain
  • Gastro-esophageal reflux disease
  • Diabetic neuropathy, a nerve disorder related to diabetes
  • Pulmonary edema due to heart failure
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Thyroid disorders like Hashimoto's disease
  • Granulomatous disease, a hereditary disease affecting the immune system
  • Endocrine system disorders like diabetes and acromegaly
  • Myelofibrosis, a bone marrow disorder
  • Diabetes insipidus

Rheumatological Causes:

  • Takayasu's Arteritis
  • Temporal Arteritis

Malignancies or Cancers:

  • Lymphoma or cancer of the lymphoid cells
  • Leukemia or cancer of the blood
  • Other types of cancer like breast cancer

Neurological Conditions

  • Autonomic dysreflexia
  • Posttraumatic syringomyelia
  • Stroke
  • Dysautonomia
  • Epilepsy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Sudden onset migraine
  • Head trauma
  • Medications for neurological disorders

Sleep Disorders

  • Sleep apnea
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome
  • Phentermine, a drug used to control obesity and sleep apnea


  • Antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihypertensives
  • Antipyretics
  • Antihistamines
  • Hypoglycemic agents
  • Hormones
  • Steroid medications
  • Medicines containing niacin, nitroglycerin, tamoxifen, etc.
  • Other drugs, including Accupril, Ambien, Cozaar, Viagra, Zoloft, etc


  • Chemotherapy
  • Orchiectomy, or removal of testicles in prostate cancer patients

Substance Abuse

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug abuse including marijuana, heroin, and other prescription drugs
  • Withdrawal from drugs

Mercury Poisoning

Mercury poisoning can causes serious problems including hyperhidrosis. Cardiovascular, neurological or gastrointestinal disorders are often accompanied with hyperhidrosis or they may happen simultaneously. Mercury poisoning can also affect the body’s immune system, causing easier exposure to infections.

More Facts about Waking Up Sweating

Here is more information about waking up sweating or sleep hyperhidrosis:

1. Women and Night Sweats

  • More women than men are affected by night sweating. In fact, eight out of ten menopausal women wake up due to night sweats.
  • Racial factors also matter. African-Americans are more likely to sleep hyperhidrosis than Caucasian or Hispanic women.
  • Obesity, excess caffeine or alcohol consumption, and unhealthy diets also increase their risk for night sweats.
  • Up to 15% of women need medications to treat night sweat problems.

2. Diagnosis of Waking Up Sweating

If you have been experiencing night sweats for a long time, chances are they are related to a common or temporary infection. If your body’s temperature rises only at night and you sweat heavily, you may need to consult a doctor for diagnostic tests. You may need a chest X-ray or CT scan to diagnose tuberculosis or other chest infections or tumors. Abdominal imaging tests may be also be done to detect abnormalities in this region. Blood tests and other tests may be requested to arrive at the right diagnosis.

Remedies for Waking Up Sweating

1. Self-care at Night

What to do when you wake up sweating depends on the severity:

  • For mild night sweating, remove blankets and ventilate the room to alleviate discomfort.
  • For moderate to severe sweating, with heavy sweating on the face and other parts of the body, wipe or wash affected areas.
  • For extremely severe sweating, change your clothes and wash up or bathe, if needed.

2. Thermostat

Lowering the room temperature to 65-72F may help induce sleep. However, comfortable temperature is different for many people, and you can adjust accordingly. Using light blankets can also help you adjust to room temperature.

3. Control of Anxiety or Stress

Stress, nervousness, and anxiety are common causes of excess sweating. Try to find ways to manage these such as relaxing, practicing time management, and exercising to reduce sweating.

4. Herbs

Herbal remedies have been known to reduce night sweating. For example, men who experience andropause (male menopause) can take black cohosh tea or supplements. This plant is found in North America and it is commonly used by Native Americans for a wide range of diseases. Other herbal remedies include red clover, which reduces the severity of hot flashes and night sweats, motherwort, and sage tea. Sage tea has a calming effect and motherwort (mint family of herbs) is believed to act on the nerves and circulatory system, which affect night sweating.

5. Antiperspirants

Antiperspirants that contain aluminum ions slow down sweat production by blocking the glands that secrete sweat. For heavy sweating and night sweats, doctors prescribe Drysol, which contains higher concentrations of aluminum. It is applied directly to sweaty areas such as the armpits, hands, and feet. However, these topical antiperspirants can cause skin irritation, which causes some people to stop treatment.

6. Medicine

Anticholinergics such as glycopyrrolate, which prevents sweat secretion, may be prescribed. Botox injections (botulinum toxin) have also been found to be effective in relieving excessive sweating. The FDA has approved the use of botox to reduce underarm sweating, and it is sometimes injected on other body parts, like the hands.

7. Iontophoresis

This procedure involves delivering drugs to the skin where small electric currents are made to pass and treat excess sweating. Low-level electric stimulation works by paralyzing sweat glands, which decreases the volume of sweat produced.

8. Surgery

Surgical incisions in extreme cases of hyperhidrosis can be made in the armpits and other problematic areas. Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy is a controversial procedure, which is not often used.