Night sweats and pregnancy: Why and when they happen, plus tips for a better night’s sleep


Pregnancy brings many changes to your body, from nausea to trying to find that sweet spot to sleep without hurting your back. While some of these challenges are well-known, the same can’t be said for some others, such as uncomfortable night sweats.

One moment you’re cozily dreaming about your little one and how they’ll be out in the world in a few months, and then, bam! You wake up drenched as if you’ve just run a marathon in your sleep. Sound familiar? Welcome to the world of night sweats.

Understanding why and when night sweats occur during pregnancy can help you manage them more effectively and ensure a better night’s sleep.

Let’s explore night sweats, their common causes during pregnancy, and when they are most likely to occur. We’ll delve into the hormonal changes and other factors that contribute to night sweats and offer practical tips for managing them. 

What are night sweats?

Night sweats are those pesky moments when you wake up in the middle of the night, feeling uncomfortably hot and sweaty. It’s like your body decided to turn on the internal heater full blast, even though you didn’t ask for it! This isn’t just a little bit of warmth; we’re talking about soaking through your pajamas and sheets.

Night sweats during pregnancy are very common, affecting up to 85% of pregnant women. They are caused by hormonal changes, specifically increasing levels of estrogen and progesterone, that impact the body’s temperature regulation. Night sweats tend to be most prevalent during the first and third trimesters when hormone levels fluctuate the most.”

Dr. Matthew Casavant, Board Certified OB-GYN, and the founder of South Lake OB/GYN practice

Common causes of night sweats in pregnancy

According to Dr. Matthew Casavant, “Postpartum night sweats are caused by falling hormone levels as the body adjusts, and they typically subside within 1 to 3 weeks after delivery.”

“Staying hydrated, limiting heavy or spicy foods that can trigger hot flashes, and using cooling techniques can provide relief in the meantime.” Dr. Casavant further goes on to say, “If night sweats persist longer than a month postpartum or are accompanied by other symptoms, consult your doctor to check hormone levels and rule out any issues.”

Here’s a breakdown of why night sweats happen during pregnancy:

Role of estrogen and progesterone

These two are responsible for many of the changes you experience, and while they’re essential for a healthy pregnancy, they can also turn up the heat—literally!

Estrogen and progesterone directly impact the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls body temperature. During pregnancy, these hormones cause the hypothalamus to raise the body’s thermostat, making women feel warmer. At night, the body has to work harder to dispel this heat, often leading to night sweats.”

Dr. Matthew Casavant, Board Certified OB-GYN, and the founder of South Lake OB/GYN practice

During pregnancy, your estrogen levels can soar, leading to an increase in body temperature. This can result in those unexpected night sweats. Progesterone, on the other hand, is your body’s pregnancy protector, helping to maintain a healthy uterine lining. But it can also dilate your blood vessels, making you feel warmer than usual.

Impact of metabolism and blood flow

Your metabolism is another player in this sweaty saga. Pregnancy boosts your metabolism as your body works harder to support both you and your baby. This increase in metabolic rate generates more heat, which can lead to night sweats. Think of it as your internal engine revving up to keep up with the demands of pregnancy.

In addition to your metabolism working overtime, your blood flow increases significantly during pregnancy. Your body is pumping more blood to deliver essential nutrients to your baby, but this also means more warmth circulating through your system. It’s like having an extra cozy blanket wrapped around you, even when you don’t need it!

Increased metabolism

Your body is working overtime to nourish your little one, which ramps up your metabolism. This extra effort can raise your core temperature and make you sweat more at night.

When do night sweats typically occur during pregnancy?

Night sweats can pop up at various stages of your pregnancy, so let’s break it down trimester by trimester.

First trimester

Ah, the early days when everything is new and exciting (and maybe a bit overwhelming). Your body is starting to adjust to the flood of new hormones, and this can lead to those pesky night sweats. You might find yourself tossing off the covers one minute and reaching for them the next. It’s all part of your body’s way of adjusting to its new role.

Second trimester

This is often dubbed the “honeymoon phase” of pregnancy. You might have more energy and less pregnancy nausea, but night sweats can still make an appearance. Your blood volume is increasing to support your growing baby, which means your body is working overtime and can heat up at night.

Third trimester

As you approach the finish line, night sweats can become more frequent. Your metabolism is in high gear, your baby is getting bigger, and all those extra pounds are like having a personal heating blanket (even when you don’t want one!). It’s not unusual to wake up feeling a bit like a sauna.

Postpartum period

Surprise! Night sweats can continue even after your baby is born. Your body is shedding the extra fluids it held onto during pregnancy, and hormonal shifts are still happening. It’s like your body’s way of having one last hurrah before things start to settle down.

So, whether you’re just starting your pregnancy journey or nearing the end, night sweats are a common companion. Keep cool, stay hydrated, and know that this, too, shall pass. You’ve got this!

Tips for managing night sweats during pregnancy

To alleviate night sweats, Dr. Casavant recommends:

  • staying hydrated
  • dressing in breathable and loose clothing
  • using cooling products like aloe vera or menthol lotion before bed
  • sleeping with fans or cooling pads
  • practicing relaxing bedtime routines like meditation or massage

If night sweats are accompanied by other symptoms like fever, chills or confusion, consult your doctor right away as it could indicate an infection.”

Dr. Matthew Casavant, Board Certified OB-GYN, and the founder of South Lake OB/GYN practice

Here are some other tips to help you manage those pesky night sweats during your pregnancy journey:

  • Creating a cool sleep environment: Keeping your sleep space cool can work wonders. Try using breathable sheets and light blankets. A fan or air conditioner can be your best friend when it comes to staying comfortable through the night.

    Bonus tip: Chill your pillowcase in the fridge before bedtime for an extra refreshing sleep!

  • Wearing breathable sleepwear: Opt for cotton or moisture-wicking fabrics that allow your skin to breathe. Avoid synthetic materials that trap heat and moisture. Your favorite cute and comfy nightgown or loose pajama set could be just the thing to keep you cool and cozy.

  • Staying hydrated: Maintaining hydration during pregnancy is crucial, as well as regulating your body temperature. Sip on water throughout the day, and consider keeping a glass or bottle by your bedside for nighttime sips. If plain water isn’t your thing, infuse it with a slice of lemon or cucumber for a refreshing twist.

  • Monitoring diet and caffeine intake: We know those pregnancy cravings can be strong, but certain foods and drinks, like spicy dishes and caffeine, can trigger night sweats. Consider opting for lighter, more easily digestible meals closer to bedtime. If you can’t resist that cup of tea or coffee, try enjoying it earlier in the day to give your body time to process it.

  • Practicing relaxation techniques: Stress and anxiety can contribute to night sweats, so finding ways to relax before bed can make a big difference. Whether it’s gentle prenatal yoga, a warm bath with calming lavender oil, or simply unwinding with a good book, find what helps you unwind and prioritize it as part of your bedtime routine.

Remember, every pregnancy is different, so don’t hesitate to experiment with these tips to find what works best for you. Here’s to more restful nights and fewer night sweats! You’ve got this! 

When to consult a doctor

While night sweats are usually normal, there are times to call your doctor:

  • Soaking nights: If you’re drenching your sheets, it might be worth a chat to rule out any issues.
  • Feeling feverish: If you get chills, aches, or feel feverish along with sweats, check in with your doctor.
  • Heart racing: Waking up with a racing heart or feeling dizzy? Your doctor can help sort that out.
  • Regular discomfort: If night sweats are messing with your sleep often, your doctor can offer advice to help you feel better.

Your doctor’s there to help, so don’t hesitate to reach out if something feels off.


Night sweats, particularly during and after pregnancy, can be both uncomfortable and concerning. As noted in Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine, “Night sweats are very common, but they tend not to be reported to physicians.” Understanding this phenomenon and how to manage it is crucial for your comfort and well-being.

We hope that the tips and expert advice provided here will support you through this challenging time. Remember, this phase will pass, and brighter days are ahead.

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