When you sleep, your body goes through myriad temperature changes; it’s all part of your circadian rhythm. Sometimes that means that you might wake up with night chills, night sweats, or cold sweats. Waking up shivering or sweaty might just be your body adjusting to different temperatures in your room, but it could be something else. It could actually happen for a couple of different reasons, and we’ll outline all of it for you here. 

Are Cold Sweats The Same As Night Chills Or Night Sweats? 

Night sweats commonly occur when your body is too warm while sleeping, so you start to sweat. Night chills, on the other hand, are when your body starts shivering because it’s too cold while sleeping. Cold sweats are unrelated to both of these and don’t exclusively happen while you’re sleeping, as the other two do. 

Cold sweats are often linked to things like shock, infection, pain, or stress. Any of these can manifest (at any time of day) as a cold sweat. Cold sweats also have nothing to do with your actual temperature or the temperature of your environment. Whereas regular sweating happens because of the elevated heat, cold sweats simply got that name because of the lack of heat. Cold sweats also usually happen in your armpits and palms, not so much on your back or face.

Why Am I Shivering Or Sweating At Night?

If you’re wondering what causes cold sweats or night chills at night, you’re not alone and we can help. Night chills and sweats can be caused by a few different things:

  • Sleep apnea: Studies have shown that sweating at night can be linked back to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when you suddenly stop breathing at night, which could understandably send a distress signal through your body, resulting in cold sweats. Sleeping on a mattress designed for those with sleep apnea could help you out if this is your issue.  
  • Menopause: When women are going through menopause, their hormones are out of balance, which often results in hot flashes and occasional night sweats as well. On the flip side, these hot flashes can also lead to shivering as your body’s temperature drops back down. Try sleeping on a mattress designed for hot flashes to see if it helps.
  • Infection: Whether it’s a fever or other infection, these can manifest as shivering or sweating. Typically a high fever will give you the chills and make you shiver, but infections can also make you sweat as your body tries to dispel the infection. 
  • Anxiety: Bouts of anxiety can wreak havoc on your sleep and cause you to sweat at night. If you’re having trouble relaxing for bedtime because you have things weighing on your mind, it’s possible that you’ll wake up even more anxious but sweaty as well.
  • Nausea: Taking a look at what cold sweats is a sign of, it could be nausea. If your stomach is roiling, whether or not you’re fully asleep, you might find yourself in a bit of a sweaty situation as your stomach figures out what to do.
  • Migraines: Intense migraine pain can also manifest as cold sweats. As your body is dealing with the pain, it might start to sweat in hopes that it can get rid of the pain. If you’re prone to migraines, you might have noticed that your hands get clammy while you’re dealing with the pain — that’s the cold sweats.

How Can Night Chills And Cold Sweats Affect Sleep? 

If your night chills and cold sweats are frequently happening, it might be cause for concern. Considering that these sleep issues happen for a reason beyond just being cold and hot, it might be your body telling you that it needs help in some way. Night chills and cold sweats can hinder your sleep, because not only will they make it uncomfortable to rest soundly, but if they’re happening for a larger reason, that reason might also be keeping you from sleeping soundly. Ask yourself: Should I seek medical attention for cold sweats or night chills? If you wake up shivering or sweating more than once a week, then it’s definitely time to talk to your doctor. Even if you think it’s something as simple as menopause, there’s no harm in getting yourself checked out.

How Can I Reduce Night Chills And Cold Sweats While Sleeping? 

Before you get too concerned with night chills and cold sweats being a deeper problem, you can approach it as just a temperature issue. Here are a couple of ways to tackle the problem that are easier than asking, “How do you get rid of cold sweats?”

  • Adjust the temperature in your room: If you’ve been waking up sweaty, try turning your thermostat down or pointing a fan at you while you sleep. If you’ve been waking up shivering, bump the temperature up a little bit or get a space heater.
  • Adjust your clothes or blankets: Similarly, you can add or remove blankets on your bed to suit your temperature needs or sleep in different clothes. Maybe you swap your shorts for pants and vice versa or start sleeping in sweatshirts if you’re cold.
  • Sleep on a cooling mattress: If you keep sweating at night, try investing in a cooling mattress. This might be especially helpful for anyone dealing with hot flashes or even anyone who lives in a warmer climate. These are typically built to provide airflow, which can help keep you cooler at night.

Final Thoughts

Night chills and cold sweats or night sweats can all be unpleasant, but they might just simply be from your room being the wrong temperature. As your body is resting and cycling through its circadian rhythm, your temperature is fluctuating, and sometimes things go awry, causing you to shiver or sweat. They can also be from an underlying issue, so pay attention to your body and seek medical advice if you need to.