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Night Sweats and Alcohol: Causes and Treatment


Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 7/31/2022

Drinking alcohol can cause night sweats because of how it interacts with the body. Night sweats can be caused by changes in menopause, medications, substances like alcohol, blood sugar changes, fever, and even something simple like rising temperature. Sweating during the night is the body’s way of cooling down.

When someone sweats at night, the body is attempting to reduce body heat and remove toxins from the body. Because alcohol is a toxin that’s processed by the liver, it can lead to night sweats during bouts of binge drinking or even light drinking.

What are the Relations between Alcohol and Night Sweats?

Alcohol can cause night sweats for many reasons. Binge drinking can cause it because the body is overwhelmed but alcohol can also cause night sweats because of side effects like flushing. Below are some of the factors that show the relationship between alcohol and night sweats.

  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Binge drinking
  • Flushing
  • Delirium tremens
  • Alcohol intolerance
  • Alcohol’s effect on the heart and blood vessels

1. Alcohol Withdrawal and Night Sweats

Alcohol withdrawal is one of the biggest causes of night sweats. People who are frequent drinkers or alcoholics can experience alcohol withdrawal as soon as a few hours after their last drink. Furthermore, alcohol withdrawal can last for a few days and cause night sweats as alcohol withdrawal progresses. There is no way to prevent night sweats caused by alcohol withdrawal.

Unfortunately, the body needs to heal from its dependency on alcohol for night sweats to conclude. Night sweats caused by alcohol withdrawal are typically accompanied by other systems. These symptoms include insomnia, nightmares, nausea, reduced appetite, headaches, and body aches. Alcohol withdrawal can’t be prevented but some treatments can reduce the chances of night sweats occurring.

2. Delirium Tremens and Night Sweats

Delirium tremens are a severe side effect that occurs during alcohol withdrawal. While only 1% of recovering alcoholics experience this side effect, it’s deadly and can cause many sleepless nights. Some other symptoms of delirium tremens include hallucinations, fever, severe sweating, and confusion. Individuals who have delirium tremens need to seek medical attention or it can be fatal.

Delirium Tremens typically becomes apparent after 48 to 96 hours with no alcohol consumption (it can take as long as 10 days to surface in rare cases). Delirium tremens is not preventable and are more likely to occur in people who have abused alcohol for decades.

3. Alcohol Intolerance and Night Sweats

While rare, alcohol intolerance can also lead to night sweats. Alcohol intolerance is the result of a genetic mutation and people of East Asian heritage are more likely to experience intolerance to alcohol. People with alcohol intolerance can’t produce enzymes that break down the toxins within alcohol, which leads to side effects that are similar to an allergic reaction. Some of these side effects include redness in the face, hives on the body, a runny nose, changes in blood pressure, and stomach discomfort.

Alcohol intolerance can also lead to sweating and night sweats. There is no way to prevent alcohol intolerance.

4. Alcohol Effects on the Heart and Blood Vessels

Alcohol affects the heart and blood vessels. It can increase heart rate and widen blood vessels for increased blood flow. When this occurs, it can cause perspiration because diluted blood vessels make the skin feel warm. In regards to night sweats, this process can occur during sleep and cause people to awake with a dampened pillow. These night sweats are typically not severe and conclude once alcohol is processed by the body. Therefore, when someone stops drinking and gives their body time to process the alcohol these night sweats disappear.

Alcohol-related night sweats are challenging to deal with and can contribute to conditions like insomnia. While night sweats are hard to manage, there are ways to treat and prevent night sweats. These tips for dealing with alcohol-related night sweats are listed below.

  • Rinse the skin with warm water to remove salt that builds in the pores from excessive sweating
  • Before returning to bed, change the sheets
  • Reduce the temperature in the bedroom or open a window for better airflow
  • Remove heavy blankets from the bed or sleep without one if possible
  • Drinking water to replace lost water from sweating
  • CBD can reduce body temperature and prevent night sweats

If night sweats do not improve over time you should reach out to your doctor. They can help you determine the cause of night sweats and provide treatment solutions.

What are the Medications for Treatment of Night Sweats from Alcohol?

There are not many medications that can treat night sweats. People who experience night sweats can use over-the-counter sleep aids to avoid waking up from night sweats. That said, some medications like CBD can reduce night sweats by relaxing the body. Some studies suggest that melatonin can have a similar effect. In most cases, night sweats need to run their course and be treated with things like showers, colder room temperatures, and removing thick blankets.

If night sweats are caused by alcohol withdrawal, however, medications like lorazepam and diazepam can help with night sweats. It’s important to note that these medications need to be prescribed by a doctor or addiction specialist.

Does Drinking Water Help You Prevent Sweating from Alcohol?

Drinking water can prevent sweating from alcohol. When someone is intoxicated by alcohol dehydration occurs and being dehydrated leads to increased body temperature. Therefore, preventing dehydration by drinking water before sleeping can help with night sweats. Moreover, night sweats can lead to dehydration, so having an abundance of water in the body can prevent dehydration from occurring.

Should You Take a Shower if You Have Night Sweats?

Taking a shower if you have night sweats can help. Showering if you have night sweats can help because it can replenish lost water and remove excess salt from the skin that’s caused by sweating. While you might be tempted to take a cold shower, it’s better to take a shower with warm water. Warm showers are more effective if you have night sweats because they open the pores and remove debris from the skin that can lead to sweating.

How Long do Alcohol Night Sweats Last?

Alcohol night sweats can last for a few hours or several weeks; it depends on the cause of the night sweats. If night sweats occur from binge drinking or moderate alcohol consumption before going to bed, night sweats should be gone the next night if no drinking occurs. The same rule applies to night sweats caused by alcohol intolerance. Alcohol intolerance is an allergic reaction to alcohol, so when there’s no alcohol in the body night sweats caused by alcohol intake won’t happen.

Keep in mind, that alcohol-related night sweats caused by withdrawal are different. Depending on the person and the severity of alcohol dependence, alcohol withdrawal can begin after a few hours of no alcohol consumption. Night sweats caused by alcohol withdrawal can last for about 1 to 5 days. However, if delirium tremens occur night sweats can last for several weeks.

How to Stop Drinking to Prevent Night Sweats

Quitting drinking is the best way to prevent alcohol-related night sweats. When alcohol is no longer consumed, the likelihood of night sweats occurring decreases. There are several ways to quit drinking to prevent night sweats. These tips to help quit drinking are listed below.

  • Join a sober support group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • Alcohol detox (medically-assisted detoxification)
  • Therapy
  • Attending an inpatient rehabilitation center for alcohol
  • Having family and friends support you
  • Removing alcohol from your home
  • Avoid places where alcohol is present
  • Consume non-alcoholic spirits
  • Drink non-alcoholic beer and wine

These are only a handful of tips that can help you quit drinking. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, it’s important to seek professional help.