Night sweats are a common and distressing anxiety symptom. Many people with anxiety find themselves wide awake all hours of the night, dripping in sweat. It can be incredibly uncomfortable, and in some cases it can lead to further anxiety that never seems to let up. It's not uncommon for night sweats to be one of the main reasons those with anxiety struggle to get sleep.
Night sweats can be confusing, and in some cases cause health anxiety as people worry that something is wrong. While night sweats can be a symptom of other health issues, it is also something that many of those with anxiety deal with often.
Night Sweats = Anxiety?
Your doctor is the only person that can pinpoint the cause of your night sweats. It may be anxiety, or it may be a significant hormonal problem. But often when you have other anxiety symptoms or evidence of an anxiety disorder, night sweats are the result.
Click here to take my anxiety test to find out more about your night sweats.
The Cycle of Anxiety and Night Sweats
Those with anxiety often deal with negative and worrisome thoughts. This is especially true if you have panic attacks, or are prone to health anxiety. It's not uncommon for anxiety to cause night sweats, and it's also not uncommon for night sweats to cause even more anxiety.
It's a cycle that needs to stop, and in order for it to stop, you need to get your anxiety under control. If you haven't yet, take my 7 minute anxiety test to learn more.
How Does Anxiety Cause Night Sweats?
Anxiety is the activation of your fight or flight system. An anxiety disorder (or someone that deals with anxiety regularly) is when your fight or flight system is responding inappropriately to the situation, in a way that acts as though you're experiencing a fearful situation when you're not.
When the fight or flight system is activated, your blood rushes to the parts that need it. This causes what's known as vasoconstriction, or the constricting of the blood vessels. Once they've constricted, your body starts to heat up as a result.
After your body heats up, it starts to react to cool your body down before you get too hot. That's what cause the sweating.
The Cyclical Nature of Night Sweats
An interesting question, though, is why you experience anxiety at all, especially at night. It could be due to several different factors.
- It's not uncommon to have stressful or nagging anxious thoughts at night, and this can lead to anxiety.
- It's not uncommon to worry about sleeping, and then become more attuned to your body as a result.
- It's not uncommon for those with anxiety to simply suffer from anxiety symptoms even without a clear cause.
What makes night sweats problematic, especially for those with anxiety, is that they can often cause further anxiety. When you're suffering from night sweats, you may also feel like something is wrong, or that you're so uncomfortable that something is wrong with you. Those feelings may cause further anxiety, which in turn leads to further night sweats and an even harder time sleeping.
For these reasons, night sweats may be cyclical in nature. That's why it's so important that you reduce your anxiety as best you can before suffering from night sweats, because once you start feeling a hot flash it becomes almost impossible to stop.
How to Stop Night Sweats
When you feel yourself starting a hot flash there are a few things you can do. First, adjust your clothes or sheets so that you don't overheat. Your physical environment does affect how hot you become during a hot flash, and so a cooler environment can reduce the extent of your night sweats.
Also, if your night sweats cause you so much distress that you cannot fall asleep while you're suffering, don't try to fall asleep. Instead, get up and walk around so that you're more comfortable. Trying to sleep when you're suffering from night sweat insomnia can cause further anxiety. It's better to get up, move around, and do things to help you relax rather than trying to force yourself to sleep.
If your anxiety is caused by a thought or thoughts that you simply can't shake, write the thoughts out in a journal. Writing out thoughts tells your mind that it's okay to stop focusing on them, and that may have an effect on your ability to relax your mind and prevent your night sweats from spiraling out of control.
Cure Anxiety to Stop Night Sweats
For better or worse, when anxiety causes your night sweats there is little you can do to stop them. There are some anxiety symptoms you can control. For example, there are ways to reduce muscle tension even when you're suffering from anxiety, in order to relieve yourself of that type of symptom.
But night sweats are a crucial part of your fight or flight system, so you cannot just stop night sweats on a whim. What you can do is learn to control - and ultimately cure - your anxiety.
I've worked with countless anxiety night sweat sufferers before. I start all of them off with my 7 minute anxiety test to get an idea of their symptoms and how they compare to others.
So if you haven't yet, start the test here.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.