When breathing stops, stress hormones are released causing sweating.
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that can have a variety of symptoms, including night sweats. Night sweats can be uncomfortable and disruptive to sleep, so it’s important to know how they are related to sleep apnea. In this article we will explore the causes and treatments for night sweats related to sleep apnea. We’ll also look at other factors than cause night sweating, lifestyle changes that can be made, and how treating sleep apnea can help.
What Can Cause Night Sweats?
First, let’s mention all factors that can cause excessive sweating in the night. These are:
- Hot flashes due to menopause
- Low blood sugar or hypoglycemia
- Fever from infection or illness
- Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)
- Hormones changing (hyperthyroidism, low testosterone, pregnancy)
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Side effects of medications
- Caffeine or alcohol consumption close to bedtime
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and other sleep disorders
How Does Sleep Apnea Cause Night Sweats?
When breathing stops during an apneic event, the body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol in an attempt to wake up the individual and begin breathing again. This sudden surge of hormones has wide-reaching effects throughout the entire body, including an elevated heart rate, higher blood pressure, and night sweating. People suffering from OSA often wake up suddenly gasping for air due to their bodies’ attempts at restarting their breathing.
OSA is not something to take lightly. Research indicates that untreated sleep apnea exerts pressure on the cardiovascular system, affecting your entire body. Risk factors linked to sleep apnea include hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Those most affected by OSA are males over age 65 or those who are obese. According to a recent respiratory research study, 30% of male patients with OSA experienced night sweats compared to just 9% of males in the general population. However, anyone may suffer from OSA regardless of age or weight, which is why it’s important for everyone to be aware of signs such as night sweating.
What Are The Signs of Sleep Apnea?
1. Excessive daytime sleepiness
Excessive daytime sleepiness is one of the most common symptoms of OSA. People with sleep apnea often feel very tired during the day, even if they have gotten a full night’s sleep. This fatigue can make it difficult to concentrate and make it more likely that you will fall asleep during the day.
2. Loud snoring
Probably the most common sign, if you can discover you are doing it! Your snoring may be so loud that it wakes up your partner or other people in your house.
3. Gasping or choking at night
People with sleep apnea often gasp or choke at night. This happens because your airway becomes blocked while you are sleeping, causing you to briefly stop breathing. These episodes can happen multiple times throughout the night and can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep.
4. Waking up with a headache
This happens because your brain is not getting enough oxygen when you are sleeping.
5. Waking with dry mouth or sore throat
This happens because your airway is becoming blocked while you are sleeping, causing you to breathe through your mouth instead of your nose.
6. Difficulty concentrating during the day
If you have sleep apnea, you may have difficulty concentrating during the day. This fatigue can make it difficult to focus on tasks and remember information.
7. Frequent nighttime urination (Nocturia)
Getting up more than twice a night to pee? The same causes for night sweating (adrenaline, stress hormones) can also cause frequent nighttime urination.
8. Moodiness or irritability
Moodiness or irritability is generally due to lack of restful sleep. If you have sleep apnea, you may find yourself snapping at people more easily or feeling more down than usual.
Do Lifestyle Changes Help Night Sweats?
Yes, it can. Much like lifestyle changes can help symptoms of sleep apnea, these similar changes can also help with night sweats which are:
- exercise – reduces stress hormones which trigger hot flashes and night sweats
- diet – eating more grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins and avoiding processed foods helps regulate hormones
- avoiding alcohol close to bedtime – alcohol causes the throat muscles to relax too much causing blockage.
- avoiding caffeine after 3pm – caffeine keeps you awake and being able to relax and get better rest reduces the night sweat triggers
Does Treating Sleep Apnea Help Night Sweats?
Yes. Studies suggest that using the CPAP therapy to treat sleep apnea can decrease your night sweats by as much as 66% percent. 33% of the participants suffered from night sweats before getting CPAP treatment. After being treated, only 11% still had night sweats, which is the normal percentage for people who do not even have sleep apnea. Thus, you should always use CPAP, APAP, or BiPAP devices for consistent treatment of sleep apnea. This could result in nighttime sweat symptoms dropping to one third of the level you are currently experiencing.
Not only can sleep apnea cause night sweats, but the long-term effects of untreated sleep apnea can be very damaging on the cardiovascular system. This includes increasing the risk factors for heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, heart failure, and even death. Taking steps such as seeking medical treatment or trying the lifestyle modifications mentioned can help reduce these risks associated with sleep apnea and its related symptoms like night sweats.