Early recovery can be a time of great joy, but it is unlikely that this time will be completely without hardship. Most of the problems that people will experience at this stage of sobriety will be related to adapting to their new situation, and dealing with any lingering withdrawal symptoms. One of the common unpleasant conditions that people may have to deal with would be night sweats. This symptom usually disappears after they have been sober a few months, but it can disrupt the normal sleep pattern in the meantime.
Night sweats refer to excessive sweating that occur during the night. This same condition can also be referred to as sleep hyperhidrosis. This condition can be uncomfortable if it keeps on waking the person up from sleep. It may mean that they feel drowsy, lacking in energy, and out of sorts during the day. These night sweats will occur even though the bedroom isn’t excessively hot. In most instances the occurrence of this condition will not be a symptom of anything too serious, but this will not always be the case.
Hot flashes are a particular type of night sweats that are most often experienced by women going through the menopause. This symptom occurs because of changing hormone levels in the body. They are usually accompanied by a rapid heartbeat and intense feelings of heat. In most instances hot flashes will last less than half an hour but they do disturb the normal sleep pattern. Sometimes people mix up the term hot flash with hot flush, but they are not the same. When somebody has a hot flush it means that their face has gone visibly red.
If people are sweating because their room is too hot, or they are using too many blankets, this would not be considered night sweats. The most common causes of this condition include:
* Hot flashes due to hormonal changes associated with the menopause.
* Addiction withdrawals.
* Post acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) following addiction.
* Certain medications can trigger night sweats including; antidepressant medication, medications to lower blood sugar levels (hypoglycemics), medications to lower fever (antipyretics), and hormone therapy drugs.
* Some people just have a tendency to sweat like this. They may have inherited this tendency through their genes.
* If people have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) then this can lead to episodes of profuse sweating during the night.
* It can be a symptom of HIV.
* If people have suffered damage to their automatic nerves (autonomic neuropathy) then this could trigger this problem.
* Tuberculosis (TB) – this disease is now rare in western countries.
* It could be a sign that the person is having a cardiovascular accident (stroke).
* Infection of the bone (Osteomyelitis).
* Hodgkin’s Disease
* Those individuals who were born with brain injuries related to cerebral palsy may have to regularly deal with night sweats.
* An infection of the heart lining (endocarditis).
* Night sweating can be associated with different types of cancer.
* If people are anorexic then this could trigger night sweats.
* Chronic fatigue syndrome
* Obstructive sleep apnea
* Posttraumatic stress disorder
A common complaint from people who are in early recovery is that they struggle to get a good night sleep. One of the reasons why this can occur is that they wake up with their sheets soaked in sweat. This can be uncomfortable but in most instances the individual will get over this symptom once they make it through the withdrawals period.
Sometimes people will continue to have night sweats for months after they gave up alcohol or drugs. This can be a sign that they are dealing with post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). The symptoms associated with PAWS tend to lessen after about six months, but they can continue anything up to 2 years. This may mean that the individual will need to find strategies for dealing with night sweats long term.
There are things that people in recovery can do to help them deal with night sweats including:
* It is suggested that beverages that contain caffeine may worsen night sweats. It is therefore recommended that people avoid such drinks before going to bed.
* It may be better to have thin sheets and blankets on the bed rather than a duvet. It will be easier for the person to remove layers if they feel themselves getting soaked by sweat.
* It might be an idea to keep a spare sheet beside the bed in case the current one becomes uncomfortably wet.
* It is suggested that cotton bed sheets are better for people who tend to suffer from night sweats.
* It is also suggested that the individual wears cotton pajamas if they like to wear clothes in bed.
* If people are just lying awake because of night sweats they might be better off getting up, having a shower, changing their sheets, before returning to bed.
* It may help to have a relaxing shower before going to bed.
* It might not be a good idea to do much physical activity right before going to bed. This will cause the metabolic rate to increase and increase the likelihood of night sweats.
* Avoid spicy food – especially in the hours preceding bed time.
* Activities such as yoga or meditation can be helpful before going to bed.
* It is important that people ensure that their room is not overheated. Some people find it more comfortable to sleep when their room is slightly cold.
If any of the following conditions apply then the individual is advised to consult their physician:
* They are experiencing other unexplained symptoms.
* They are regularly having night sweats.
* They are regularly woken up by night sweats.