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What Are Night Sweats From Alcohol Use?

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Apr 22, 2023 • 4 cited sources

Some people who drink alcohol develop night sweats. They awaken once or several times after a night of drinking feeling hot, sweaty and out of breath. 

Other health conditions can cause night sweats, so it’s important to get the cause of your sweating diagnosed. If you do have night sweats, it could be time to quit drinking alcohol. 

What Are Night Sweats?

Night sweats involve excessive sweating at night to the point where a person may need to change their clothes or be awakened.[1]

While everyone might sweat due to a hot room or too many blankets, people with night sweats may perspire excessively for a reason they can’t define. Even if they’re sleeping in a cold room, they may awaken feeling flushed, hot and sweaty. 

Why Does Alcohol Cause Night Sweats?

Alcohol can cause a person’s body to improperly regulate temperature, potentially causing them to sweat even when not hot. 

Alcohol alters the cardiovascular system, dilating vessels and allowing blood to rise to the surface of the skin. Your temperature rises, and your sweat glands open to cool you off. The result is excessive sweating. 

Alcohol withdrawal can also cause excessive sweating. Long-time misuse of alcohol can trigger withdrawal symptoms when people quit abruptly. 

In addition to sweating, alcohol withdrawal can trigger the following symptoms:[2]

  • Trembling
  • Agitation 
  • Irritability 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches

During alcohol withdrawal, the body’s nervous system is adjusting, and sweating can result. Unsupervised alcohol withdrawal can be extremely dangerous, and so anyone with an alcohol use disorder should talk to a doctor before quitting drinking. Doctors can provide medications and close monitoring to ensure your medical team helps if something goes wrong. 

Common Symptoms of Night Sweats

The main symptom of night sweats is sweating that starts at night with no heat-related cause immediately identified. 

People with night sweats may also develop the following symptoms:

  • Clammy skin
  • Facial or whole-body flushing
  • Headaches 
  • Thirst

Night sweats can interrupt sleep, as some people must get out of bed to make them stop. Repeated episodes can lead to poor sleep and then fatigue the following day. 

How Long Do Alcohol Night Sweats Last? 

Night sweats can be variable. Some people have episodes that last for just a minute or two, but others have longer periods of intense flushing and sweating. 

How long your night sweats will last depends on the trigger. If they’re caused by alcohol, they could stay with you as long as you keep drinking. 

Diagnosing Night Sweats 

You should see a doctor if you experience consistent night sweats. Serious conditions can cause sweating, so it’s important to find the cause. 

A variety of health conditions and medications can potentially cause night sweats, some of which are much more serious than others, including these:[3]

  • Diabetes
  • HIV
  • Medications
  • Menopause
  • Mononucleosis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Tuberculosis

If you’ve been screened for other causes, the remaining explanation might be alcohol.

Even if your night sweats are caused by something other than alcohol use, drinking may still worsen your night sweats.

Treating Alcohol-Related Night Sweats 

It’s important to talk to your doctor about new night sweating episodes. A full screening can help you determine the best way to treat your discomfort. 

If alcohol is the cause of your night sweats, the best treatment is to drink less. If you have a problem abstaining from alcohol, this may signal that you have alcohol use disorder, often called an alcohol addiction or alcoholism.[4] If this is the case, you may need professional treatment for your alcohol use disorder.

If your night sweats are caused by something else, your treatment plan could involve changing your medication, addressing an underlying illness and more. 

Preventing Night Sweats 

Night sweating due to alcohol use isn’t a thoroughly researched topic, so there aren’t many specific tips to help prevent sweating. 

Some people find that sleeping without layers or keeping the room cool can help. Ensuring you are adequately hydrated before sleep can also prevent excessive water loss and resulting symptoms of dehydration. 

If you struggle to cut back on your drinking, reach out for help. With the right support, you can manage alcohol misuse.

Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD

Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More

  1. Night Sweats. National Cancer Institute. Accessed February 2023.
  2. Introduction to Alcohol Withdrawal. Alcohol Health and Research World 1998. Accessed February 2023.
  3. Diagnosing Night Sweats. American Family Physician. March 2003. Accessed February 2023.
  4. Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 2020. Accessed February 2023.

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