Important Tips for Fighting Night Sweats
The National Academy of Sciences has declared sleep disorders and sleep deprivation a public health threat because chronic insufficient shut-eye puts people at greater risk for health problems like diabetes, hypertension, depression, obesity, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as accidents and even death. Indeed, the National Transportation Authority says that sleepy drivers are linked to nearly 800 deaths per year in the U.S.
Over the past 30 years, more and more adults are reporting getting less than six hours of sleep a night (at odds with the National Sleep Foundation’s recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night). In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey indicates that more than 35% of people aren’t getting even the minimum advised shut-eye. The issue is so important that helping people to achieve healthy sleep is designated as a priority in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Healthy People 2020 initiative.
What’s all this got to do with hyperhidrosis? One of the many things that can negatively impact sleep in adults as well as children is night sweating. While we usually talk about primary hyperhidrosis, which isn’t typically associated with night sweats, we get so many questions and comments about night sweats, that we think it’s a crucial topic and we want to help. It’s important to note, also, that excessive sweating sufferers can have multiple different types of bothersome sweating (perhaps both primary and secondary hyperhidrosis) -- and that children, in particular, can suffer from night sweats as a side effect of certain medications (such as for ADHD.)
Night sweats are a relatively frequent problem -- no matter your age or gender. In fact, the Archives of Disease in Childhood reports that nearly 12% of children aged 7 to 10 experience night sweats each week. Among adults, the Annals of Family Medicine says 33% of primary care patients report experiencing night sweats and 16% report nighttime sweating severe enough to soak their bedclothes. Not surprisingly, this research also found that daytime sleepiness was linked to night sweating.
In another study, 10% of patients over the age of 64 said they were bothered by night sweats and associated night sweats with a lower quality of life.
The good news is:
If you experience extreme night sweating, there are things you can do to help yourself. Alli Truttmann, longtime supporter of the International Hyperhidrosis Society and one of our Patient Focused Drug Development meeting attendees, is an inspirational leader in this area so we reached out to her to help bring you tips and insights.
Alli has been suffering from extreme night sweats since she was quite young. As a serious athlete and personal trainer, Alli first attributed her excessive sweating to her intense training regimen. But when she was having to rest because of an injury, she noticed that although her workouts were curtailed, her sweating was not.
Even years later, Alli says she still sweats morning, noon and night, but especially at night. At times, she’s had to change her sheets and pajamas every couple hours. She also has loved ones who experience palmar, plantar and craniofacial hyperhidrosis. Diagnosed with idiopathic extreme sweating at the age of 24, Alli has spent the last ten years working on innovative solutions to help people like herself and her family.
A creative entrepreneur, Alli develops moisture-wicking, cooling sheets and mattresses to help night sweaters, like her, to stay more comfortable and get more rest. Based in Louisville, Kentucky and made in the USA, Alli’s products are sold through her Wicked Sheets website and QVC. (Thinking of placing an order? Use the coupon code SWEATHELP10 and save 10%.) Throughout, Alli strives to bring sleep solutions to heavy sweaters that are breathable, cooling, fast-drying, and with enhanced airflow. She says that her customers come from all walks of life and experience night sweats related to medications they are taking (both adults and children can be impacted in this way), hormonal changes (like menopause or pregnancy), mental health concerns (like post-traumatic stress disorder) and amputations. She also has clients seeking crib sheets for sweaty babies and toddlers.
Beyond her products, Alli helps to mentor other women business owners while also supporting the International Hyperhidrosis Society, the North American Menopause Society, and children with special needs (Alli is a trained therapist and has worked with families and children affected by autism, Asperger syndrome, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.) Alli especially likes to mentor others working in the excessive sweating space saying, “If someone can help innovate for the patients who suffer everyday, I want to support that.” She’s active with the National Association of Women Business Owners in Kentucky and is an adjunct professor of psychology at Bellarmine University.
If night sweating is impacting sleep in your household, seek help. Any extreme sweating or changes in sweating patterns, day or night, should be discussed with a qualified healthcare professional. Excessive sweating, while often an unexplained issue unto itself, can also be a symptom of another serious medical condition. Or, excessive sweating can be a side effect of a medication that’s being taken. Ruling out (or appropriately addressing) such causes of sweating is very important. Learn more about secondary extreme sweating here.
While you and your healthcare team figure out if there is an underlying medical cause for you or your child’s nighttime sweating (or not), there are tips and tricks from Alli and from us that can help make bedtime more comfortable.
- Keep bedrooms at a moderate temperature. Use fans for air circulation and/or open windows.
- Take advantage of moisture-wicking/quick-drying pajamas like those listed on our Fan Faves page. Utilize layers that can be removed as needed. Long underwear used for camping or comfortable exercise garments made of moisture-wicking fabrics may be good choices. Avoid non-breathable synthetics. Find useful discounts here.
- Upgrade to quick-drying bedding and avoid the usual cotton sheets. Again, use layers so that bedding can be adjusted as needed in the night. Some sheets are made of the same material that athletes wear to wick moisture away from their bodies as they exercise and are specifically for night sweats. Save when ordering by using codes found here.
- Look into innovations in bed climate control systems. We have an example in our Fan Faves and we know there are others out there, too.
- Have ice water nearby for sipping throughout the night.
- Keep cool packs under pillows so that, during the night, pillows can be flipped. Offering the sleeper a refreshing, cool headrest when needed. You may also consider keeping a bucket of ice by the bed and some hand towels so cool compresses can be applied as needed.
- Avoid potential nighttime sweat triggers such as spicy foods, cigarettes/nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine.
- Try to lower stress through calming, breathing or meditation exercises. Or try gentle bedtime yoga. Some people try to focus their minds on feeling relaxed and cool.
- Exercise daily, but not too close to bedtime.
Remember, if you or your child suffers from night sweats, see your doctor. This is a common problem with a lot of potential causes and some are serious. Depending upon the source of the nighttime sweating, there are some treatment options including medications.
Thank you to all of the innovative problem solvers out there, like Alli, who are always striving to make the lives of hyperhidrosis sufferers better.