Why Does Sleep Apnea Cause Night Sweats?

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is an oppressive condition that can impact one’s health in various ways. The condition can prevent an individual from receiving the amount of healthy sleep needed to live a fully functional life. One of the strange side effects of OSA is that individuals who suffer from this condition tend to sweat more in their sleep. Though this is not the most medically concerning element of this condition, night sweats—and being left wondering why sleep apnea causes night sweats—can impact one’s well-being in subtle ways.

If you have been experiencing night sweats in association with your OSA, take a look at this overview that describes the relationship between these two phenomena.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition in which an individual’s breathing is interrupted or completely ceases while they sleep. The result is often patients waking up several times throughout the night as their body is sent into fight-or-flight mode. The constant waking inevitably leads to the development of a poor-quality sleep cycle, which can, in turn, lead to the development of many other health issues.

Certain risk factors make it much more likely that an individual will develop sleep apnea. Individuals are more likely to develop sleep apnea when they:

  • Are over the age of 50
  • Are obese or overweight
  • Take opioid pain medications
  • Have heart conditions such as congestive heart failure
  • Live at high altitudes

There are differences in the severity of sleep apnea cases. Mild sleep apnea may not even require treatment, while more severe sleep apnea can lead to the development of serious health issues.

What Are Night Sweats?

“Night sweats” refers to the phenomenon of an individual sweating at excessive levels while they sleep. While night sweats in themselves are not medically concerning, they can indicate more serious medical issues. OSA is an example of one such issue. If left unaddressed, OSA can negatively impact one’s health.

Sweating itself is a natural process of the cardiovascular system that releases toxins, regulates body temperature, and can alert one to internal complications and disease. When caused by hot weather or strenuous activity, sweating can help keep the body temperature at safe levels.

At night, sweating is typically just an indication of internal temperature regulation. In other cases, sweating is a stress response to the stimuli encountered in nightmares.

Why Does Sleep Apnea Cause Night Sweats?

Some studies have shown that about 30% of all patients who have OSA will experience night sweats at some point. Researchers indicate that night sweats are connected to a condition known as hypoxia, which indicates a low level of oxygen in the blood. There also seems to be a connection between night sweats and the condition of hypoxemia, which indicates low oxygen levels in the muscle tissues.

It follows that sleep apnea causes night sweats due to oxygenation issues presented by OSA, which impact an individual’s ability to regulate their body’s oxygenation and perspiration. Additionally, some studies have indicated that those with OSA experience higher levels of cortisol while they sleep. Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone and is linked to a higher nighttime body temperature.

Preventing Sleep Apnea Night Sweats

Though sleep apnea is not curable, there are ways to mitigate the presence of night sweats in individuals who suffer from the condition. One of the most common methods for addressing OSA and the resulting symptoms of the condition is through CPAP therapy.

CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, therapy involves using a CPAP mask. This mask is known to provide both long-term and short-term benefits to individuals diagnosed with sleep apnea. These machines can address the irregular breathing conditions experienced by people who suffer from OSA, including shallow breathing and complete lapses in breathing.

A CPAP machine pushes air into a person’s airways to keep them open as they sleep. Closed airways are the source of many of the breathing abnormalities experienced by individuals who suffer from sleep apnea. With a more regulated breathing cycle, patients should find that they experience a reduction in night sweats.

New York’s Best Resource for Good Sleep

Sleep MD NYC is the best resource available for New Yorkers who want to improve the quality of their rest. If you are suffering from OSA, contact us today to schedule an appointment with our high-quality sleep doctor.

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