You probably don’t think of being sweaty (outside of working out) as a good thing, but sweat serves an important function. Sweat is a vital part of our body’s cooling system. Our sweat glands work hard, even when we’re sleeping. Sweat itself is 99% water, with traces of salts and metabolic wastes. When secreted onto the skin’s surface, sweat evaporates, taking heat from our bodies as it vaporizes and cooling the blood that flows beneath our skin. Fun fact— This evaporative cooling system is likely the reason that human bodies are nearly hairless.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night in a pool of sweat? If so, you’ve experienced night sweats.
Menopause, low blood sugar, and fever can cause night sweats. So can certain medications, including antidepressants and steroids. If your clothing or your bedroom temperature causes you to sweat, it’s not considered night sweats.
Night sweats are unpleasant, but most of the time they’re harmless. However, a more serious cause of night sweats is alcohol consumption. It can happen if you have an alcohol use problem, binge drink, or even if you’ve only had one drink!
If you’re physically dependent on alcohol, sudden withdrawal can result in night sweats. If you experience frequent night sweats due to drinking, this may be a sign of a drinking problem.
How alcohol triggers night sweats
Alcohol affects the central nervous system, the circulatory system, and virtually every part of your body. Drinking can increase your heart rate and widen blood vessels in your skin. This can trigger perspiration aka sweating.
You might be asking yourself, “Can I sweat alcohol out of my system?” The answer: Yes and no.
Here’s how it works— A small amount of alcohol is broken down in your stomach lining, but your liver metabolizes most of it. Most of the alcohol you consume is broken down into byproducts through metabolism within your body. Having night sweats or making yourself perspire won’t expel alcohol from your system any faster.
Night sweats can also be caused by alcohol withdrawal. This symptom of withdrawal, along with most others, is temporary. We recommended seeking medical treatment or detox if you believe you may be experiencing alcohol dependence.
Alcohol Withdrawal & Night Sweat Common Symptoms
Sweating, clammy skin, and night sweats are common symptoms of withdrawal. You may also feel anxious, depressed, or moody. Other symptoms include:
- difficulty sleeping
- loss of appetite
- body aches
- muscle pains
Alcohol intolerance and night sweats
Occasionally, alcohol-induced night sweats can be due to alcohol intolerance. Alcohol intolerance is caused by a genetic mutation. When your body has this mutation, it can’t produce the enzymes that break down the toxins in alcohol.
Additional symptoms of alcohol intolerance include:
- facial redness
- worsening of preexisting asthma
- runny or stuffy nose
- low blood pressure
Because alcohol intolerance is a genetic condition, there’s currently no cure for it. The best way to relieve the symptoms of alcohol intolerance is to limit or eliminate alcohol consumption.
Tips for dealing with alcohol related night sweats
Your body loses a lot of moisture when you sweat too much. It’s important to replenish fluids by drinking plenty of water. It’s recommended you drink half your body weight in ounces. You should also:
- rinse your skin to remove excess salt from dried sweat
- change your sheets before you get back into bed
- keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature
- avoid using too many heavy blankets