IS THIS NORMAL? I wake up drenched in sweat in the middle of the night
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Dear Is This Normal?,
For quite some time, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night DRENCHED in sweat (like, there are droplets running down my legs and the hair on my neck gets soaked). I read that it could have something to do with the temperature of my room, so I’ve tried everything — opening a window, turning on the A/C, using my air purifier, sleeping naked — and nothing seems to work. It doesn’t happen every night, but when it does, it freaks me out. I’m only 23. Is there something wrong with me? What should I do?
— Sweaty and Sleepy and Scared, Los Angeles
Night sweats suck, so I can only imagine how stressed you feel. You’re probably changing the sheets every time you wake up drenched (annoying AF) and disrupted sleep can make anyone cranky at work, not to mention have some serious health consequences.
Here’s the thing: Your nighttime sweating might be NBD, but it could also be a sign that something’s off with your body — and your body’s trying to tell you something.
There isn’t much research on the prevalence of night sweats among young women specifically, but one study suggests that about 40% of adults report nights sweats in any given year. So you’re not alone.
Since you are a woman of reproductive age, sweating at night could have something to do with your period. Try keeping track of when you experience night sweats and see if there’s any correlation with your cycle — fluctuating hormones could be the culprit.
There could be other factors at work, too. According to Dr. Jenner Wider, a women’s health expert, night sweats could signal a more serious health issue. While older women often experience hot flashes and night sweats during menopause — something that’s totally normal, if not a royal pain — she says women your age should talk to a doctor about what’s going on.
"Likely causes [of night sweats] in this age range include: low blood sugar, certain medications (including anti-depressants, drugs that contain aspirin, acetaminophen), hormone disorders, an infection of some kind, idiopathic hyperhidrosis (a condition where the body produces excess sweat with no underlying cause), neurological concerns, and some forms of cancer."
Research also shows that anxiety, depression and panic attacks can cause night sweats, so that may be something to consider if you’re dealing with any of those conditions. Gastrointestinal issues, such as GERD, can also be a culprit. And the National Institutes of Health said in a 2010 report that a little-known condition called primary ovarian insufficiency — a condition that affects how your ovaries function — can cause night sweats.
Sweaty, I don’t want you to panic — you could be experiencing something totally harmless. But I want you to talk to your doctor soon. Okay? Okay.
In the meantime, Dr. Wider says you can try sleeping with a fan, and wearing more breathable jammies to bed.