Why does your head sweat in your sleep?


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Both the head and other parts of the body usually sweat to lower the body temperature. Sweat is excreted when the thermoregulation centre in the brain detects changes in the body or changes in the ambient temperature. The vegetative nervous system is alarming, the sweat glands will receive a signal then they begin to absorb ,moisture from the surrounding tissues and onto the surface of the skin. When this sweat evaporates from body surface, temperature of the skin decreases and eventually he whole body temperature will decrease.

Is it dangerous or not?

Sweating at night is considered normal both in adults and children. If there are no underlying condition then we need to sweat so as to prevent thermoregulation problems. Insufficient sweating can lead to overheating and eventually stroke. Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) does not harm the body but instead causes discomfort especially at night when the bed and pillows are soaked.

However, hyperhidrosis at night in the neck and scalp can be a sign of a an underlying condition.

When is it not dangerous?

If the causes of night sweating are not related to any changes in the body then there is no cause for worry. It may be unpleasant but it does not cause any harm.

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In most cases, we sweat when we sleep because there is insufficient air. It can also be due to various other reasons such as:

  • Abuse of styling tools. They create film on the scalp that does not let air through.
  • Frequent wearing of hats, especially in the warm season.
  • Poor bed linen, synthetic pillows – all of them disrupt the natural access of air to the head.
  • Non-compliance with personal hygiene leads to clogging of pores, which means the scalp becomes hard to breathe.

The other reason is inappropriate temperature. If the room is hot especially during the hot seasons, the pillow and bedding will become wet. This is a normal reaction of the body to such conditions.

Moreover, the head and neck can sweat if you sleep immediately after taking alcohol. This type of night sweating is referred to as alcoholic sweat. It is caused when alcohol in the blood accelerates reactions in the body leading to a rise in temperature and the body will need to lower this temperature by sweating.

When is it dangerous?

Nocturnal hyperhidrosis cannot always be explained from the body’s reaction to external stimuli. It often a sign that something is wrong in the body. The range of potential problems are wide but they can be divided into various groups including:

  • Digestive problems. Due to the disruption of absorption and digestion, the body may receive few vitamins and other nutrients. Night sweating of the head and neck can be a sign of their lack.
  • Hormonal problems can be in both women and men. In women, night sweats indicate a imbalance in the levles of oestrogen and progesterone. And in men it may be due to lack of oestrogen.
  • Infections and related inflammatory processes strongly affect heat exchange. In infectious diseases you will almost always sweat on the head and experience insomnia, and during the day you want to sleep.
  • Cardiovascular problems. If the heart is disturbed, all spare systems of the body are activated to try and keep the heart in a stable condition. In this case, sweat can be a reaction to exhaustion. Also, excessive sweating can be a consequence of intracranial pressure swings – this is common in hypertension. If, along with night sweats, you have chest pains, dizziness and difficulty breathing ensure you see a doctor.
  • Neuroses and mental disorders cause bright coloured dreams in the patient, so the activity of the brain at night is the same as during waking. This means that adrenal glands and other hormones work. The head sweats reflexively.
  • Endocrine diseases: thyroid conditions and diabetes affect the hormonal background and heat exchange.
  • Excess weight disrupts normal metabolism. Sweat is a reaction to these violations.
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What should you do with sweat sweats?

It is difficult to find the real reason why the head or neck sweats at night. In most cases an examination is the only one that will determine the real cause.

All non-dangerous causes can be eliminated by practising the following:

  • Change the wet linen to dry. So you will prevent pathogens from multiplying and this removes the bad smell.
  • Wash your head as you get dirty so that the sweat glands don’t get stuffed with the surrounding dirt.
  • Eat well and lead a healthy lifestyle. So you will not only remove abundant night sweats, but in general you will feel better.
  • Air the room before going to bed so that your body will “breathe” fresh air at night. It’s also a great way to lower your indoor temperature.

However, if the night sweats are due to health conditions, you should not self-medicate. Ensure you see a doctor for check-up. Remember that hyperhidrosis can be a sign of other serious conditions and it is better if they are treated early.


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