Night Sweats After Alcohol – Is It A Sign Of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Most people have experienced night sweats at least once in their life, whether this is due to illness or simply during a particularly hot summer.

But if you are regularly sweating through your clothes and bedsheets even on a cool night, this could be an indication that your body is trying to tell you something.

If this excessive perspiration frequently occurs after drinking alcohol, you may be experiencing one of the most common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

What causes night sweats after drinking alcohol?

Waking up in a pool of sweat after drinking alcohol is a fairly common occurrence, and there are several potential reasons for this reaction.

In many cases, excessive perspiration at night is the body’s natural reaction to the effects of alcohol on the system, but it could also be a sign that your body is experiencing withdrawal symptoms with the latter suggesting that you may need to seek help for a physical dependence on alcohol.

Alcohol has a noticeable effect on the body, particularly if you regularly consume large quantities of this substance.

It has the ability to increase your heart rate at an irregular pace as well as stimulating the entire central nervous system and circulatory system, causing the blood vessels to enlarge and the skin to feel warm and flushed. As a result, the body will begin to sweat excessively.

This sweating can occur at any time of day, but is more common at night as the majority of people drink alcohol in the evening.

Excessive perspiration after drinking may also indicate an alcohol intolerance, so it’s recommended that you speak to your doctor and ask them to undertake tests in order to rule out this possibility.

Common signs of an alcohol intolerance include:

  • Flushed face
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tiredness and fatigue

Some people believe that excessive sweating during alcohol withdrawal is a sign that the body is flushing out the alcohol and toxins, but this is generally not the case.

In fact, only 10% of alcohol consumed is released from the body through your sweat, breath and urine. [1]

Other potential causes of night sweats include low blood sugar, fever, a reaction to medication or menopause so it’s important to rule these out if you have concerns about your excessive perspiration levels.

If you regularly experience night sweats after drinking alcohol, it could be an indication that your body is experiencing withdrawal.

This could mean that your body has developed a physical dependency on this substance, so it’s recommended that you reassess your behaviour and actions around alcohol and consider seeking professional help in order to safely reduce or completely stop your intake.

What are the common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal?

Alcohol withdrawal occurs when an individual who regularly consumes large amounts of alcohol suddenly attempts to reduce or completely stop their alcohol intake.

If you drink infrequently or only in small doses, you are unlikely to experience alcohol withdrawal. However, if you have experienced these symptoms in the past, you are more likely to notice them again when you next attempt to reduce your alcohol consumption.

Excessive perspiration or night sweats is a fairly common symptom of withdrawal and can be a sign that you have developed a physical dependence on alcohol.

These symptoms occur as the body attempts to rebalance and function normally without the presence of alcohol in the system, as it has become used to functioning in a hyper-alert state to counteract the depressive effects of this substance.

While most alcohol withdrawal symptoms are merely uncomfortable and difficult to deal with, they have the potential to become dangerous or even life-threatening.

Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Excessive perspiration
  • Headaches
  • Intense cravings for alcohol
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Feeling confused and disoriented
  • Insomnia, difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Mild tremors and shaking

You may begin to notice the first symptoms of withdrawal around six hours after your last drink, and in most cases, they will continue to build and peak for around 48-72 hours before reducing although some people continue to experience symptoms on and off for up to two years. [2]

What are the symptoms of delirium tremens?

While relatively uncommon, delirium tremens is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal and occurs in around 5% of cases. [3]

If left untreated it can lead to serious illness or even loss of life, so it’s vital to recognise the potential signs and seek medical treatment if you believe that you or someone you know is experiencing delirium tremens.

If you are attempting to reduce or completely stop your alcohol intake and you are experiencing night sweats, this is likely to be a sign of withdrawal and should be carefully monitored to ensure you do not become dehydrated or begin to develop the more serious symptoms of delirium tremens.

You are more likely to experience delirium tremens if you have a past history of severe withdrawal symptoms, are in poor general health and/or are attempting to recover from a long-running and serious alcohol addiction.

Common symptoms of delirium tremens include:

  • Extreme confusion
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Agitation
  • Visual, tactile and auditory hallucinations
  • Unconsciousness
  • Dehydration
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures

Even the mildest signs of withdrawal can become serious and develop into delirium tremens very quickly, which is why it is recommended that anyone attempting to withdraw from alcohol should only do so under medical supervision within a rehabilitation centre or treatment programme.

It is possible for a doctor to diagnose you with alcohol withdrawal, and they will generally do this by asking a number of questions relating to your alcohol consumption and any previous experiences or symptoms of withdrawal.

They may run various physical health tests in order to rule out any underlying causes and will usually require access to your medical records as part of the diagnostic process.

How can I get help for alcohol addiction?

The most effective way to recover from alcohol addiction is to attend a specialised rehabilitation centre or treatment programme, either as an inpatient or an outpatient.

When you enter a rehabilitation centre or treatment programme to recover from alcohol addiction, the first stage of recovery will involve complete detoxification in which the body is cleansed of alcohol over a period of time as the dosage of this substance is gradually lowered.

This tapering-off process can alleviate many of the more severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, although some may remain throughout the detoxification period.

During this time you may be prescribed specific medications to make the process of withdrawal more comfortable and potentially reduce cravings for alcohol as well as other symptoms.

Once the physical detoxification process is complete, you will be offered a range of counselling treatments in order to explore the potential causes and circumstances that lead to the addiction.

A trained and experienced counsellor will also provide you with healthy coping strategies and ways to deal with difficult emotions and experiences without reaching for alcohol.

Common therapy treatments for alcohol addiction include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Motivational interviewing

If you have been frequently experiencing night sweats and other withdrawal symptoms after drinking alcohol, get in touch with our team at OK Rehab for advice and guidance on safely reducing or completely stopping your alcohol intake.