6 reasons why men get night sweats and how to treat them

Man sleeping
An overactive thyroid may cause night sweats. Sean Justice/Getty Images
  • Men may get night sweats because of stress or a possible anxiety disorder.
  • Sweating at night may also be a side effect of medications like antidepressants or HIV treatments.
  • Hyperhydrosis — a common condition that causes excessive sweating — may also be the cause.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

If you wake up drenched in sweat, even when the room isn’t hot or your blankets aren’t too heavy, you may be experiencing night sweats due to a medical condition. 

This can be worrisome, and not to mention, uncomfortable. There are multiple underlying causes for night sweats in men, ranging from stress to chronic conditions. 

Here are six causes and treatments of night sweats in men. 

1. Stress and anxiety

A 2012 systematic review found that both short term and long term anxiety can cause your sweat glands to be more responsive, which can lead to night sweats.

“This is a quite common cause. The way I like to think of it, if you go to bed anxious or stressed about something, you’re going to bed with your brain revved up, which can lead to night sweats,” says Vivek Cherian, MD, internal medicine physician at Amita Health

If you’re dealing with bad anxiety, it’s likely you’ll experience other physical symptoms alongside sweating, such as:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling short of breath
  • Aches and pains

How to treat it: If you’re going through an acute episode of high stress, such as trouble at work, night sweats may resolve when the stressor resolves. 

However, if your anxiety is chronic and you’ve been experiencing night sweats for a while, Cherian says you should see a doctor to assess if you might have generalized anxiety disorder. In this case, treatment may involve relaxation techniques, therapy, and medications.

2. Medication side effects

Certain medications or classes of medications may be more likely to affect your sweat glands, and sometimes even your body temperature, says Cherian. Some common examples of these are:

  • High blood pressure medications
  • Antiretroviral medications (HIV medications) 
  • Antidepressants 

How to treat it: Since you’re on medication to treat another condition, things might be tricky. Cherian says. However, talk with your doctor about adjusting your dosage or switching medications to see if the night sweats subside.

3. Obstructive Sleep apnea

Undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea is a common cause for night sweats, says David Cutler, MD, family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center:

A 2013 study found that approximately 30% of obstructive sleep apnea patients experienced night sweats, compared to 9% of healthy men without the condition. 

If you have obstructive sleep apnea, it causes episodes where you stop breathing periodically which may raise the level of cortisol in your body. 

“Cortisol is a stress hormone which can give your body the sensation that it is working out, even though you are sound asleep, which can result in night sweats,” says Cherian.

Aside from night sweats, sleep apnea can come with symptoms including:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Snoring 
  • Dry mouth or a sore throat in the morning
  • Waking up abruptly while gasping or choking 

How to treat it: If you suspect you have obstructive sleep apnea, visit a sleep specialist for a diagnosis. 

After that, treatment may include lifestyle changes like losing weight (if you are overweight), exercising, and avoiding alcohol, says Cherian. 

In more severe cases, you may need to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine while you sleep to ensure that you keep breathing all night.

4. Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is a condition where the nerves that control your sweat glands are overactive, causing them to make too much sweat, says Cutler. 

The condition is very common, affecting about 15 million Americans, with the primary symptom being excessive sweating, which can occur during the day and at night. 

How to treat it: There are various treatments to decrease sweating, including:

  • Prescription topical antiperspirants or creams
  • Nerve-blocking medications
  • Botox injections

However, hyperhidrosis may be caused by an underlying condition, such as diabetes, infections, or nervous system disorders, in which case it’s referred to as secondary hyperhidrosis. 

It’s important to visit your doctor and explain any and all symptoms you may be having to determine if there’s an underlying cause. 

5. Low testosterone levels

Low testosterone has many causes, ranging from injuries to medication side effects to alcohol abuse. 

Aging may also contribute to low testosterone. “Testosterone levels gradually decline as we get older, and sometimes your body may develop symptoms, which can include night sweats,” says Cherian. 

You might also experience symptoms such as:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Low libido
  • Low mood
  • Fatigue 

How to treat it: If you have a blood test that indicates low testosterone levels, Cherian says you may be prescribed testosterone replacement therapy in the form of injections, topical gel, or patches.  

6. Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid is overactive. Cutler says one very common symptom of this condition is excessive sweating, which may occur during the night, as well. 

Some other symptoms of hyperthyroidism are:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Tremors

How to treat it: If a blood test confirms that you have an overactive thyroid, the main first line of treatment is anti-thyroid medication, says Cherian. In more serious cases, surgery may be necessary. 

Insider’s takeaway

Night sweats can be uncomfortable and annoying, but it’s possible to find relief. 

“If you experience night sweats for a prolonged period of time it’s a good idea to discuss this with your doctor to explore if there may actually be a medical cause behind it that they can help you discover and treat,” says Cherian. 

Once the underlying cause is addressed, your night sweats will subside and you’ll be back to sleeping more comfortably.