Night Sweats Anxiety Symptoms

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated May 19, 2021

Night sweats anxiety symptom description:

  • You experience night sweats when sleeping
  • You wake up from sleep or a nap soaked with sweat
  • When lying down and trying to rest or go to sleep, or when just waking up, you notice that you are hot and even to the point of sweating even though the room temperature is normal or cool
  • When trying to rest, go to sleep, or when waking up, you notice you are flushed, very hot, and sweating for no apparent reason
  • When you try to go back to sleep, you are sweating profusely and seemingly uncontrollably for no apparent reason
  • Night sweats is comparable to profuse sweating during the day
  • You wake up from sleep and your pajamas are soaked with sweat

Anxiety night sweats can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may have night sweats once and a while and not that often, have them off and on, or have night sweats all the time.

Anxiety night sweats may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

Anxiety night sweats can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.

Anxiety night sweats can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.

Anxiety night sweats can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

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Why does anxiety cause night sweats?

1. A result of an active stress response

Behaving anxiously activates the stress response. The stress response immediately causes specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes in the body that enhance the body's ability to deal with a threat - to either fight with or flee from it - which is the reason the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.

Part of the stress response changes include increasing the body’s metabolism, respiration, and perspiration. This is why the heart beats harder and faster, our breathing changes, and we have a tendency to sweat when we are anxious.

If you worry in the middle of the night, the active stress response worry triggers could be the reason for your night sweats.

2. Stress-response hyperstimulation

The body’s nervous system, which includes the brain, involuntarily manages a number of systems and functions within the body, such as respiration, metabolism, perspiration, heart rate, body temperature, and the arousal and sleep mechanisms, to name a few. When the nervous system is healthy, it manages these systems and functions normally and invisibly for the most part. But when the nervous system becomes stress-response hyperstimulated, such as that from behaving overly apprehensively, it can cause the body to act erratically and more involuntarily than normal, which can cause system and function anomalies.

Experiencing night sweats is a common consequence of an overly stressed body, and an indication of how the body can mismanage itself when overly stressed.

3. Nightmares and the stress responses they trigger

Elevated stress is a common cause of nightmares.

Being afraid in nightmares can activate the stress response and its resulting changes, which can include profuse sweating that is experienced as night sweats.

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How to get rid of anxiety night sweats?

When anxiety night sweats are caused by apprehensive behavior and the accompanying stress response changes, calming yourself down will bring an end to the stress response and its changes. As your body recovers from the active stress response, this feeling should subside and you should return to your normal self. Keep in mind that it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. But this is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

When anxiety night sweats are caused by persistently elevated stress (stress-response hyperstimulation), it may take a lot more time for the body to recover and to the point where night sweats is eliminated.

Nevertheless, when the body has fully recovered, anxiety night sweats completely subside. Therefore, anxiety night sweats needn’t be a cause for concern.

NOTE: It’s also common for night sweats to be caused by the body fighting a cold, flu, or other intruder. As well, night sweats can be caused by perimenopause, menopause, the after effects of menopause, or by other hormonal problems.

Since there can be other medical and biological causes for night sweats, we recommend that you discuss this symptom with your doctor. If your doctor concludes that this symptom is solely stress related (including the stress that being overly anxious can cause), you can be assured that there is nothing else causing it. Generally, most doctors can easily differentiate the difference between stress and anxiety caused sensations and symptoms from those caused by other medical and biological problems.

If you are uncertain about your doctor’s diagnosis, however, you may want to seek a second and even third opinion. But if all three opinions concur, you can feel confident that stress is the cause of this symptom, and not some other medical or biological problem.

For a more detailed explanation about all anxiety symptoms, including anxiety night sweats, why symptoms can persist long after the stress response has ended, common barriers to recovery and symptom elimination, and more recovery strategies and tips, we have many chapters that address this information in the Recovery Support area of our website.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our anxiety disorders signs and symptoms page. Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Night Sweats anxiety symptoms.