Sweating at night is common and not usually something to worry about. But if it happens regularly or excessively it could be the sign of an underlying issue.
According to one expert, night sweats can be prompted by nutrient deficiencies. Public health nutritionist Dr Emma Derbyshire, from the Health and Food Supplements Information Service has said it could be a sign of a lack of important vitamins and minerals.
Such deficiencies can relate to vitamin B12, which helps the body to repair wounds and is also vital for oxygen flow. It may also be a result of a lack of vitamin D, which is common in the UK as it’s sourced mainly from sunlight.
Try MEN Premium for FREE by clicking here for no ads, fun puzzles and brilliant new features
Dr Derbyshire told the Mirror: “Many of us have shortfalls of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin D is difficult to obtain from the diet because so few foods contain it and urban, indoor lifestyles as well as use of sunscreen (which is essential) can lead to shortfalls of vitamin D.
“Lack of vitamin B12 which is common in people over 50 and in people reducing or avoiding meat, dairy and fish, can cause drenching night sweats.”
Dr Derbyshire recommends eating a healthy diet of nutrient packed fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. If this isn’t possible, she advises using supplements, especially for vitamin D.
She added: “If you haven’t taken vitamin D throughout the winter your levels will likely be low, so top up now with a supplement with the recommended 10 micrograms daily of vitamin D and also ensure your B12 levels are topped up with a supplement.”
Night sweats can be also caused by emotional issues, which are also impacted by nutrient intake, and hormonal issues. Read below to find out what sweating could mean for your overall health.
Anxiety and stress
As with many sleeping problems in general, sweating during the night can be caused by increased stress and anxiety.
Dr Derbyshire said: “Anxiety, panic attacks and stress are also a common cause of night sweats. Mineral imbalances are common where sweating occurs frequently. Sweat has been found to contain high concentrations of potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and iron.”
Because of this, the health expert recommends eating foods high in potassium, including “bananas, potatoes, dark leafy greens, and citrus fruits”.
Meanwhile, foods containing magnesium include “almonds, cashews, spinach, beans, and pumpkin seeds – while calcium is found in milk, yogurt, almonds, and broccoli and iron in red meat, wholegrains and beans”.
Night sweats can also occur due to hormone problems or imbalances, such can be caused by a number of conditions.
Dr Derbyshire said: “Hormone problems may be linked to night sweats. Examples include hyperthyroidism (high levels of thyroid hormones), diabetes and high levels of blood sugar, and changes in sex hormones.
“Body temperature regulation is masterminded by the hypothalamus, which is also part of the hormonal system. Dysfunction of the hypothalamus may be an underlying issue related to hormone problems and can also cause night sweats.”
If you’re worried that night sweats may be caused by an underlying issue, speak to your GP for further advice.
Drenching night sweats are a common cause of menopause, which is when a woman’s period stops due to lower hormone levels. Dr Derbyshire said: “The menopause is a key reason for sweating at night.
“Many women experience hot flushes and night sweats before, during and after the menopause. This is thought to be due to changes in production of oestrogen and progesterone.”
However, there are things you can do to help the night sweats. She added: “Lifestyle changes like sleeping in a cool room and avoiding alcohol may help. If these changes don’t help your GP may prescribe hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
“Research has found that the nutrient magnesium helps to reduce hot flushes. Magnesium is found in nuts, seeds, grains and beans but a quarter of adult women do not achieve the minimum recommended intake for magnesium. As a result, bridge dietary gaps with a multivitamin and multimineral supplement containing magnesium.”