April 22, 2021 7 min read
Waking up with pillow sweat isn’t just unpleasant – it’s also detrimental to a good night’s sleep. And, it can prove extremely embarrassing (to you) if you sleep with a partner, as well as annoying (to them).
Most of us get a little pillow sweat during the night – it’s one of the ways our bodies discard toxins. But when we wake up with our pillow soaked with sweat, it’s time to do something about it. And that’s exactly what we’re going to help you within this article. We’ll outline why your pillow sweat occurs in the first place and what you can do to fix it
Fevers and other medical conditions can result in head sweats and neck sweats while sleeping. Menopause in women, low testosterone in men, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and certain types of drugs can all cause us to wake up with a drenched pillow in the morning.
If this is you then it might be an idea to let your doctor know you are regularly waking up with a wet pillow. But the good news is, most causes of heavy pillow sweat won’t be anything to worry about health-wise. It could be down to:
Sweating (day and night) can be caused by women experiencing hot flashes when they are going through stages of menopause. This is due to hormone changes and can be mitigated by taking certain medications, such as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
One of the side effects of medication to treat the symptoms of depression and anxiety is sweating. Sometimes pain killers, such as aspirin, carry similar side effects. You can also add diabetes and hormone-blocking drugs to this list.
Anxiety itself can produce pillow sweat. Many of us will experience anxiety before an important interview, or first date, causing us to sweat a little. So, imagine how much we sweat when continually anxious. And it can carry on through the night too because worrying and insomnia can result in an excess of the hormone cortisol. This increases our heart rate and metabolism, causing us to sweat.
Low blood sugar can cause us to sweat unknowingly because, if our blood sugar drops too much during the night, our body responds by producing excess adrenaline and which, in turn, causes us to sweat.
If left untreated this condition speeds up your metabolism, resulting in a wet pillow. The hormone thyroxine is usually prescribed to prevent this.
This is a condition where several areas of the body sweat for no apparent reason, in otherwise healthy individuals. Around three percent of the population suffers from it at any given time.
Night sweating can be a symptom of this form of blood cancer. However, it is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as weight loss and feeling feverish in general.
Our body often attempts to ‘sweat out’ an infection, whether it’s bacterial or fungal or more serious illness such as TB or HIV.
The bigger our body is, the more heat we generate. That’s because our body is burning calories during the night, resulting in heat moving across our skin. The more skin surface we have, the hotter we’ll feel, and the more we sweat.
Hormonal changes can cause pregnant women to endure hot flashes similar to those experienced by peri-menopausal women.
Both radiation therapy and chemotherapy can result in head and neck sweats while sleeping for those undergoing treatment for cancer.
If you wake up with a sweaty pillow and feel sleepy during the day because you’re waking up regularly at night and perhaps even struggling to breathe during sleep, then OSA could be the cause. If this is you, pay a visit to your GP.
A condition that affects mostly men, the medical term for ‘Low T’ is Hypogonadism. Males, particularly as they age, can experience hormone imbalance too. And, like hot flashes in females, this can result in night sweats.
Ingesting substances such as caffeine, alcohol, and food too close to bedtime or at all (in the case of caffeine) can cause pillow sweat. Anxiety and stress are other factors to avoid, if possible. Exercising near bedtime won’t do you any favors either.
It may be a depressant, but a couple of drinks before bedtime can also act as a stimulant, making our heart beat faster. This makes the body temperature rise and… you’ve guessed it… causes us to sweat during the night. The more alcohol we drink, the more our body fights to expel it through sweat.
Taken in the evenings, a cup of coffee can still affect us when we go to bed. Caffeine is a stimulant and revs up our bloodstream. The result, like alcohol, is head sweats while sleeping.
If you exercise intensely several hours before bedtime, such as pushing yourself harder each time for a marathon, then you will sweat in bed. That’s because it can cause your thyroid gland to release more hormones. This then triggers night sweats as your body struggles to acclimatize to the extra activity.
Our body sweats during the night to keep our body temperature down. This thermoregulation it performs can be triggered by heavy and manmade covers, a foam mattress, and wearing synthetic fibers for sleepwear. The good news is these are environmental factors we can control.
Heavy woolen blankets or a duvet during the cold winter months are great as they keep you warm but they’re no good for the summer months. Not only are they too heavy and prevent air circulation (the thicker the sheet the less surface your body has to cool down with) but they’re usually made from a material that isn’t conducive to keeping you cool. And if your body is hot, then your head will be too.
Even certain types of light bed linen can cause head sweats. Sheets produced from man-made material such as polyester or nylon won’t let your body breathe and tends to cling, making you feel even warmer.
The same goes for your sleepwear. Fleece pajamas and flannel nighties are great for winter but they don’t work for the hotter spring and summer months.
To drop off to sleep our body has to experience a fall in temperature of around two percent. Even before we go to bed our body is preparing us for sleep by starting to cool down as the evening goes on.
But we won’t fall asleep easily if our room is too hot, and makes us feel even warmer. As a result, our temperature increases as we try to drop off.
Most people’s bedrooms are upstairs in their home and, because heat tends to rise, this leads to the bedroom being warmer than the sitting room in which they have spent the past couple of hours relaxing and preparing for bed in.
Often, we don’t realize how warm our bedroom actually is until we’re in bed. And yet, to get a night of better sleep the temperature in our bedroom really needs to be lower than elsewhere in the house.
A mattress or pillow that doesn’t breathe is going to trap heat and make your body temperature rise. Some types of memory foam mattresses, in particular, can be bad for this. It’s why newer versions introduced on the market contain cooling gel foam.
Using a temperature-regulating cooling pillow, changing to bedding and sleepwear produced from natural fibers, and ensuring there is sufficient air circulation in the bedroom can all help with head sweats, allowing you to get a natural and full night’s sleep.
The best cooling pillows regulate your head and neck temperature to stop your heat from sweating. To get a good night’s sleep it helps to keep your pillow cool. Wondering how to keep your pillow cool? Well, you don’t have to with a cooling pillow-like Moona because it tailors the temperature of your pillow to your body. It can cool the pillow down to help you fall asleep faster, and then fluctuate the temperature slightly to make sure your body temperature remains stable through the night. It then warms up the pillow to wake you naturally in the morning.
There are ways we can make ourselves and our environment more comfortable so that we don’t end up with our pillows drenched in sweat after a night’s sleep. From adopting a cooling pillow to choosing the correct fabric for our blankets and ensuring our room temperature is comfortable.
To keep cooler at night, the best bedding for night sweats, are sheets made from natural fibers, such as linen, cotton, or bamboo. These wick away moisture and prevent sweating.
The same goes for sleepwear when it comes to choosing fabrics. Always choose natural materials to make sure your body can breathe and which actually wick away sweat.
B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12 can help regulate hormones (particularly estrogen).
If you can, keep a window open at night and have a fan nearby. Keeping your body cool prevents sweat from forming.
If your mattress is causing you to sweat during the night then it’s time to look for a non-foam alternative.
If it’s not possible to lower the temperature in your bedroom (especially during the summer in warmer climes) then take a lukewarm shower before bed to lower your body temperature.
It’s clear then that you don’t have to suffer pillow sweats any longer. Uncover what’s causing yours and then implement a change by choosing one – or some – of the preventative methods above, such as using the best cooling pillow you can find. You’ll get much better sleep – and your partner will love you for it.
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