Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, like you just finished an intense workout? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 3% of the population suffers from night sweats, or what is medically known as nocturnal hyperhidrosis.
Now, if you wake up in a puddle of sweat because you’re covered in five blankets or have the heat cranked up too high, then you’re not suffering from night sweats. But if you’re bedroom temperature and environment are close to ideal and you’re experiencing the repeated occurrence of excessive perspiration during sleep—perspiration that is so intense that bedding and sleepwear are soaked through, and, in many cases, sleep is disrupted—there may be an underlying, and potentially serious, problem. And, more often than not, your hormones are at the root of the problems.
From the adrenal glands, to the ovaries, thyroid gland, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract, there is constant hormone production going on throughout the body—and a constant risk for hormonal imbalances. Women are especially prone to these fluctuations, but both sexes can experience out-of-whack hormones that produce unwanted symptoms, including night sweats.
Top 3 Causes of Night Sweats
Following are some of the top causes of night sweats and some simple solutions to help you solve the problem naturally. And if night sweats are a problem for you, I recommend speaking to your doctor to further discuss your symptoms:
Menopause is a completely natural biological process caused by altered levels of reproductive hormones including gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogen (three types, including estrone, estradiol, and estriol), progesterone, and testosterone. For women in their 40s and 50s going through menopause, this drastic hormonal shift can lead to various unwanted menopause symptoms, including night sweats and hot flashes. To minimize the likelihood of night sweats due to menopause there are several natural approaches you can take:
Get More Omega 3s—Consuming more dietary omega 3 fatty acids can help to balance hormones and reduce menopausal symptoms. You ideally want to be including omega 3 foods like wild-caught salmon and walnuts in your diet on a daily basis.
Avoid Environmental and Dietary Triggers—There are some foods that are known to increase the likelihood of the hormone imbalances that can lead to night sweats, and there also certain lifestyle factors that are likely to increase body temperature. Avoid or reduce the following as much as possible:
- Conventionally raised meat (instead opt for organic, hormone-free, grass-fed, cage-free, or pasture-raised animal proteins whenever possible)
- Smoking or inhaling secondhand smoke
- Eating spicy foods
- Using bedding that is too warm and/or having your bedroom temperature too high
Supplement with Black Cohosh—Black cohosh is one of the top supplements when it comes to dealing with menopause, and research shows that it can significantly improve menopausal symptoms.
Night sweats can occur with both underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism) thyroid function. Here are some effective natural ways to help keep your thyroid hormones in proper balance to stop night sweats and prevent them from occurring in the future:
Try Clary Sage Essential Oil— A study published in the Journal of Phytotherapy Research found that the simple act of inhaling clary sage oil can reduce cortisol levels by 36% and improve thyroid hormone levels (TSH). The study was conducted with 22 postmenopausal women in their 50s (some of whom had been diagnosed with depression), and at the end of the trial, the researchers found that the clary sage oil had a statistically significant effect on lowering cortisol and also had an antidepressant effect.
Supplement with Adaptogens like Ashwagandha—Ashwagandha is known as an adaptogenic herb because it helps the body handle stress better. Ashwagandha is also a superstar when it comes to improving the health of your thyroid and can easily be taken as a daily supplement to support thyroid health.
Avoid BPA—Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in plastic bottles and can disrupt your endocrine system and negatively affect your thyroid. I recommend only drinking out of glass, stainless steel, or BPA-free plastic bottles.
Heal Leaky Gut—If you have symptoms of leaky gut, this may likely be contributing to a thyroid imbalance that is causing your night sweats. Some of the top dietary ways to improve a leaky gut include eating the following on a regular basis: bone broth, fermented veggies, raw cultured dairy, coconut products, and sprouted seeds. Taking supplements like probiotics and digestive enzymes can also really help to improve a leaky gut.
General hormone imbalances not associated with the aforementioned conditions can also cause night sweats. Some of the best natural ways to get your hormones back in balance and keep them balanced include:
Minimize Stress—Stress is one of the biggest contributors to hormonal imbalance and all kinds of health issues. Try to practice some of the following natural stress relievers on a regular basis:
- Get seven to nine hours of sleep every night
- Join a faith community or support group
- Schedule time to do fun things with supportive people
Exercise Regularly—Exercise is great for balancing hormones because it reduces inflammation, can help you maintain a healthy weight, lowers stress, regulates your appetite, and helps you get better sleep.
Eat Healthy Fats—Eating a variety of foods high in short, medium and long-chain fatty acids is key to keeping your hormones in check. Not only are these essential fats fundamental building blocks for hormone production, but they keep inflammation levels low and boost your metabolism. Four of my favorite sources of anti-inflammatory, healthy fats include: coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter, and wild-caught salmon.
Night sweats have also been linked with some types of cancer such as lymphoma. If cancer is at the root of night sweats there are typically several other symptoms such as unexplained weight loss. Again, you should always see your doctor if you are experiencing night sweats along with any other unexplained health symptoms.