It’s not uncommon to wake up feeling slightly sweaty or even a bit damp on occasion, especially if you sleep in a warm room.
But with night sweats, you’ll generally wake up soaked through to your blankets. You may even need to change your pajamas and bedding before you can get back to sleep.
For some, night sweats can happen during their menstrual period. This may become more common, or happen for the first time, as you approach perimenopause in your mid 30s or 40s.
Read on to learn more about night sweats that happen during your period, including why they happen, how to manage them, and when to see a doctor.
Night sweats often happen with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), though they can also occur after your period starts.
Your hormones fluctuate as a normal part of your menstrual cycle. Specifically, changes in estrogen and progesterone levels can contribute to PMS symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats.
As progesterone levels increase, estrogen levels decrease. This drop can affect your hypothalamus, the part of your brain that controls internal temperature.
As a result, your brain may respond more readily to even slight temperature changes and send signals telling your body to cool you off by sweating, even if it isn’t necessary.
could it be perimenopause?
If you’re getting hot flashes at night but haven’t reached menopause, you could be approaching perimenopause, the time before menopause.
Perimenopause symptoms typically begin after the age of 40, but they might begin as early as your mid- to late 30s. In fact, night sweats are often one of the first signs that you’re approaching menopause.
Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) involves symptoms of menopause that happen before age 40. In the past, this condition was called premature menopause or ovarian failure.
Experts have since found evidence to suggest ovaries could still function with this condition, though function is generally unpredictable.
- infrequent, irregular, or missed periods
- night sweats and hot flashes
- changes in mood or ability to concentrate
- decreased interest in sex
- vaginal dryness
- pain during sex
POI can increase your risk for heart disease and may make bone fractures more likely.
It also typically leads to infertility, so it’s important to see your healthcare provider sooner rather than later if you have symptoms, especially if you’d like the option to have children someday.
Night sweats can have a range of causes other than hormonal issues.
If you sometimes have night sweats outside of your period, they could be a symptom of:
- sleep apnea
- infections, including mild or common infections as well as more serious ones, such as tuberculosis or endocarditis
- gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- anxiety and stress
- alcohol, including drinking a lot of alcohol or drinking alcohol late in the day
- lifestyle factors, including heavy exercise, hot drinks, or spicy foods just before bed
- heavy bedding or an overly warm bedroom
Night sweats also sometimes occur as a side effect of medications. The most common drugs that can cause night sweats include:
- SSRI or tricyclic antidepressants
- phenothiazine antipsychotics
- diabetes medications
- hormone therapy medications
- steroids, such as cortisone and prednisone
- pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and aspirin
Cancer can also sometimes cause night sweats, but it’s not a common cause. You’ll also typically have other symptoms, such as unexplained weight loss and fatigue.
Frequent night sweats can cause discomfort and may even affect your sleep, but you can take steps to address them. Certain lifestyle changes may help improve night sweats without medication or other medical treatment.
Try these tips to help relieve night sweats:
- Lower the temperature in your bedroom. For example, you might leave the window open during the night or use a fan.
- Change heavier blankets for breathable, layered bedding. Use lightweight cotton sheets and blankets. You might also consider bedding made from quick-drying or moisture-wicking fabrics. Light layers of bedding can help you stay cooler, since you can push back the layers you don’t need.
- Keep an ice pack under your pillow. Placing a soft gel cold pack under your pillow before you go to bed can help cool your sleeping environment. When you wake up in the night, you can flip your pillow over to cool off your face.
- Keep cold water by your bed. Use an insulated flask or thermos so your water stays cool overnight. Taking a few sips of water when you wake up can help you stay cool.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise has many benefits, including helping reduce stress, which can cause night sweats. Just avoid doing heavy exercise right before you go to bed. Taking a cool shower after you exercise may also help.
- Avoid triggers. Common triggers of extreme nighttime sweating include spicy food, alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine. Avoiding these in the hours before bedtime, or entirely, may help reduce night sweats. Less caffeine might also help improve PMS symptoms.
- Drink plenty of water. Getting enough water throughout the day is important for good health. It can also help keep your body cool, which may help reduce the chances you’ll experience heavy sweating at night.
If your night sweats persist on a regular basis and cause insomnia or other distress, you may want to make an appointment with your healthcare provider.
Night sweats can happen at any age, but you might be even more likely to experience them in your late 30s or early 40s.
If you only experience night sweats just before or during your period, you probably don’t need to worry, especially if you don’t have any other unusual or concerning symptoms.
If you begin having any symptoms of menopause before your late 30s, you may want to see your doctor to rule out POI, which can lead to infertility and increase your risk for heart disease and bone fractures.
Sometimes, night sweats can indicate a more serious condition. It’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider about persistent night sweats if you also notice any of these other symptoms:
- trouble getting a good night’s sleep
- more or less of an appetite than usual
- unexplained weight loss
- unexplained rash
- swollen lymph nodes
If night sweats negatively affect your quality of life, it can’t hurt to bring them up with your healthcare provider. They can help you explore possible treatment options for relief.
Severe night sweats, even those that happen along with perimenopause or menopause, might not improve without medication. Medications sometimes prescribed to help manage night sweats might include hormone therapy or a low dose of an antidepressant.
Night sweats during your period can be a normal symptom of hormonal fluctuations. But if they’re accompanied by any other unusual symptoms, it’s best to follow up with your healthcare provider to rule out any potential underlying causes.