Does IBD Cause Night Sweats?

Interrupted Sleep Can Be A Barrier To Feeling Better During The Day

Black woman sleeping in bed
Restorative sleep is a good start toward battling fatigue. Image © andresr / Getty Images

Many people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) experience night sweats. It may be a part of IBD that occurs every night, or might only be a problem from time to time. Night sweats might happen more frequently during a disease flare-up or perhaps when switching between medications or changing the dosage of an existing medication. No matter when or how often the sweats take hold, it is a problem that needs to be dealt with in order to get a good night's sleep.

Waking up several times at night because you are hot and sweaty is very annoying as well as demoralizing. Not only are you awake and uncomfortable, you must now change your clothes and possibly your bedding, and it's a good bet you'll wake up your bedmate or roommate in the process. The day after a poor night's sleep is stressful, and people with IBD also don't need to add more stress to their lives. 

Sleep is intimately connected to the course of IBD. While this is a topic that is still being studied, it's accepted that people who have IBD need quality rest in order to keep their symptoms in check. In fact, some studies have shown that disturbances in sleep can be the first sign of a flare-up. Waking in the night, being unable to fall asleep, or insomnia, may start happening before even other hallmark symptoms such as diarrhea show up.

Why Do Night Sweats Happen?

One of the many symptoms of a flare-up of IBD (or, in fact, of many potential complications of IBD) is a fever.

During the night, the fever may spike several times, causing body temperature to raise and lower. If you're wearing pajamas and are also covered up with a sheet and blanket, you'll probably start to sweat. At first you may not wake up, but then your body temperature will lower, you'll start to feel cold and uncomfortable, and then eventually you'll wake up soaking wet.

If you are experiencing night sweats, it should be brought up at the next doctor's visit. In the larger scheme of problems that affect people with IBD, it might not seem like a major issue, but it is important. Even if you are feeling well, discuss sleep disturbances with your physician before the situation gets out of hand or becomes a larger problem.

Tips For Managing Night Sweats

The best way to deal with night sweats that you can't prevent is to be prepared for them. Minimizing discomfort and getting back to sleep as quickly as possible is the best way to proceed. Some tips for dealing with night sweats include:

  • Stay in the dark. Don't turn too many lights on when you get up with the night sweats, because this will only wake you up further. Adjusting lighting in the bedroom and the bathroom to minimize bright light will help in falling back asleep faster.
  • Change it up! Have a change of clothes and bedding close at hand, so that you can get dried off and get back to bed as quick as possible. Keep 3 sets of bedding so that there's one on the bed, one clean, and one that's being laundered.
  • Plan ahead. Keep some cold water by your bedside to help cool you off when you wake up.
  • Stack 'em up. Try sleeping on some thick towels or an extra blanket to avoid getting your bedding wet. If the towel or blanket become saturated, you can remove them and your bedding underneath will still be cool and dry.
  • Keep it clean. Use a mattress protector under your sheets and on your pillows to help keep your mattress clean.
  • Cool it. Keep your room cool and avoid bundling up in clothing and blankets.
  • Fresh air helps. Air circulating in the room with a ceiling fan, a window fan, or even an open window may help keep the room from feeling stuffy and too warm.

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