Hot, sweaty nights

Hot, Sweaty Nights (But Not in a Good Way)

Right now most of you are rejoicing that summer is over, because it finally means getting some relief from the symptoms that come along with being overheated. However, I seem to be the oddball in this club of ours (no surprise there!). I’m always cold and as a result it takes near-tropical conditions for me to get overheated and have a pseudoexacerbation. On top if it all I discovered last winter that the second I step outside in the cold, the sensation in my legs turns off like a switch. Right now I’m typing this article wearing three shirts, flannel pants, and knee high socks while under two blankets. I can’t blame my MS for being cold all of the time, because I’ve always been this way…in fact my whole family is a chilly bunch. My theory is that we must have some reptilian blood in us somewhere, and we are in fact the first cold-blooded humans. The Butler family can often be found perched in a row on the couch like birds on a power line, cooing and huddling for warmth under whatever blankets they can.

There’s one exception to my endless struggle to be warm, and that’s when I turn into a human torch at night. Let me tell you, this makes for a pretty ridiculous bedtime routine. I shed my multiple layers of cozy clothes, proceed to don thin cotton PJ’s, open the bedroom windows (even in the middle of the winter- sorry honey!), and point a tower fan right on me at the highest speed that my hubby will tolerate.

Many people with MS report this mysterious symptom of overheating at night, and even night sweats. Even though anecdotally I find this to be a fairly common symptom, there are no studies that have been done that explain this, or that really even confirm this it is a true symptom of MS. The fact that MS can cause temperature dysregulation, meaning that it’s difficult for our bodies to maintain normal temperatures, is really the only supporting evidence I have to offer. This temperature dysregulation makes us susceptible to extreme hot or cold, which many of us have experience with. Overheating at night can also be hormonal or linked to endocrine issues, so if you are having night sweats or hot flashes you should make sure they can’t be explained by anything else.

Personally, I only started overheating at night after I was diagnosed with MS. At night I started getting very hot which made my legs spasm and just generally led to me being too uncomfortable to sleep at all. After whining about it to some friends, I learned that they too struggled with similar symptoms. One friend even sleeps in a separate bed than her husband because he doesn’t like sleeping in what feels like a sauna! Before MS my ideal night’s sleep would involve wedging myself under as many comforters and blankets as I could without running the risk of suffocation. So naturally, sleeping without any covers simply doesn’t work for me. I need to burrow, and the comfort of a soft blanket is essential. After playing with different materials for sheets, blankets, and pillowcases I found a combination that maximizes coziness and minimizes sweatiness which is helpful, but the struggle still continues. On really bad nights I’ve also found that a pillow at the foot of the bed allows some air flow down there, and can help out in a pinch.

I will continue to explore and track down more information on this mysterious symptom, and I’m curious if you also get overheated at night. Tell me about your experiences!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (36)
  • Nicole
    12 months ago

    I have the same issues, although I don’t usually get cold. I’m always a furnace, I freeze my boyfriend out all the time! I’ve been contemplating buying a bed fan. It goes under the blankets at the foot of the bed. Half the time when I wake up anymore I’m not even covered up! The struggle is real.

  • Fayje
    12 months ago

    I’m so glad that you wrote this.

    I was terrified (still am) at my most recent (current) RRMS relapse. Left foot drop, right leg from the waist down is a mix of hypersensitivity and numbness (including the right side of both Number 1 and Number 2 outlets). And I’ve been having night sweats the last 3 nights in a row, with occasional (1 or 2 times last week) hot flashes during the days.

    I was kind of hoping it was just because I was eating copious (too much) chocolate/sugar/baked goods to deal with the stress of finals. Maybe so many sweets were contributing to me overheating, I thought. Or, maybe it’s because it’s gotten colder and I caught a cold/flu?

    But now I have a plan – to see the Neurologist again and determine if it could be related to the MS, or not. Thank you

    In good news, my 2017 MRI showed no MS progression since my 2013 MRI :D!

  • Kristina
    1 year ago

    I completely agree with everything you’ve said! I’ve had MS since 1998 when I was 20. I get very hot and sweaty every night too. Summer, Fall, Winter, or Spring. I wake up with a soaking wet t-shirt and the sheets are drenched. I have a ceiling fan that helps air me out…but it never stops me from sweating. I’m 39 now and lucky for my boyfriend, that will never be hubby, he’ll never have to deal with this drenching nights sleep! Please let me know if there’s such thing as a sheet or blanket that will stay dry until the morning!

  • sunEz
    2 years ago

    My daughter (25) has always been susceptible to cold but since diagnosed with MS, it has increased in severity. She has 24/7 nerve pain and the cold makes it worse. If she starts shaking from the cold, the pain is extra bad for days. She has also had some occasional night sweats. It would be interesting to understand the why behind all of this.

  • Meagan Heidelberg moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi sunEz,
    Thank you for commenting and being a part of our community. We appreciate you showing such great support for your daughter here! Please let her know she is not alone! You can feel free to share our articles with her. Here is an article she may find helpful with weather and MS: https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/weather-and-multiple-sclerosis-cold-hot/.

    Best – Meagan, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • TheBillLarson
    2 years ago

    I am interested to follow your findings as well. I’m generally not a freeze baby by any stretch of the imagination, but I find myself being cold much more frequently even when wearing reasonable clothing. The biggest issue I have is my hands. It is virtually impossible for me to keep them warm. It used to be the same for my feet, but now the only time I am not wearing socks is when I am in the shower. That has helped big time. My neuro seems to think my hands (and feet) being cold is due to Reynaud’s Syndrome. I’m fine with that, but the weirdness is the other locations I regularly find myself not just being cold, but actually (often very) cold to the touch: across my upper back, in the trap area, and (literally) at both of my kidneys. That can’t be explained at this point, so it gets chalked up to MS.

    I was diagnosed with MS in March of 2015. I’m an odd case, because while I have many of the common MS characteristics (first flair some 20 or so years ago with what was then diagnosed as labrynthitis, optical neuritis which led to the diagnosis, and abnormal spinal tap) I don’t have one of the major tell tale signs: lesions on my brain or spine. I got none. Not even close to one. Baffles my neuro still today. He’s tested me for everything else under the sun he can think of, and they all came back negative/normal. So through process of elimination we’ve settled on MS because even with his 40+ years in neurology he can’t find anything else to explain everything. He’s got me on Copaxone 40mg 3X a week, and we’re basically just waiting to see what happens next. The waiting game with this damned disease sucks. I’ve got many of the other classic MS issues (stumbling, cog-fog, etc.) but no lesions. So we keep checking up every 6 months and go from there.

    Sorry to get to rambling. It is easy for me to do!

  • Meagan Heidelberg moderator
    2 years ago

    Wow, TheBillLarson,
    Thank you for sharing your journey of MS with us! That is quite interesting. Have you found any difference in taking the Copaxone yet?
    Here is some information regarding “Ruling out other conditions” that you may find interesting to speak with your physician about; https://multiplesclerosis.net/diagnosis/ruling-out-other-health-conditions/.

    We’re hoping you get concrete answers sooner than later! Thank you for commenting, as we appreciate all of your input.

    Meagan, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • Jennine
    2 years ago

    I went through menopause once. After starting MS treatments my body did a complete change and rebooted. I know alot about hot flashes to say the least. My feet burn at night. They are cold all the time except at night. I get sweats and chills. I have many ice packs in my freezer. I usually get up every night and lay on the cold kitchen tile for half an hour to bring me back to a comfortable temp to go back to bed. I have also been known to soak my feet in ice water. Yet through this I have yet had a neuro admit this is part of my MS. I know it is!

  • Meagan Heidelberg moderator
    2 years ago

    So sorry for the delay in response, Jennine.
    Thank you for sharing how you cope with the hot flashes. It would like you have it down to a ‘T’! We appreciate your input.
    Meagan, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • JanG6036
    2 years ago

    You are not alone!!! I have to be cold to sleep I use a top sheet, comforter, and an Indian blanket my window open an inch and a fan blowing on me and I still get them but sad for me I start to sweat and the Nerve pain in my face starts so I wake crying or in so much pain it isn’t funny and most people don’t understand. Just like my Dad ( has MS and Transverse myelitis ), Step mother ( Asian from Manila ), Step sister ( also Asian from Manila ), Half sister ( who won’t have anything to do with me now that I can’t just drop things and go run with her ) my dad’s family, and my mothers family.
    My Neuro can’t explain it nor can my primary and I’m not in the change either and I know this from my blood work so the only reason is this stupid MonSter that I have been having a nice ( haha ) fight with for now almost 3 years.
    I know Ice packs and wet towels wok for me in the summer but Its Winter time so Ice will make me hypodermic and clod towels will only work for so long b4 my body gets used to them then they won’t work
    When I go to the Dr. my temp is fin but at home I over heat! My dad gets cold easy so keeps the house 70 plus and over 72 I’m in trouble with over heating so I go outside then come in then I’m blasted with the heat. Today he had it at 74 and I just can’t do that so when he left I dropped it to 71. If I get cold I put on my robe or sweats I don’t need the house so hot it is hard to breath but he does which messes with my unwilling internal tep control. So yes I do understand the issues to well

  • Ashton's MeMe
    2 years ago

    Where do I begin? I sometimes wondered if I was the only one with these dilemmas managing MS. My body temperature is always 96. something and even 95. something. I have not had the normal temperature of 98.6 since being diagnosed in 2000. My question to others on here is, what is your temperature as a MS person and what is normal for us? I remember when I was first diagnosed, I explained to my neuro. that I suffered immensely with cold weather. He kept telling me that only heat effected MS patients and not cold, (cause the books said that we did not). Well as time progressed since my initial diagnosis, studies have shown, yes we do. Another neurologist that I had recommended that I live in a state warmer than Georgia. She recommended that I did not fare well in cold climates. Now I guess some of you are saying that you are the complete opposite. Is it menopause or not, that is the question for me as well. During the day I fluctuate back and forth and back and forth again with my body temperature. I am cold one minute and burning up the next. During the beginning of retiring to bed, I am freezing to death and after that first trip to the ladies room, my body temperature turns up the heat and the feet out hanging out and adjustment of covers leaves the neck area and drops down. What do you wear? To summarize this comment cause I could go on and on, each and every individual diagnosed with MS is completely different, i.e., a lot of similar symptoms and others none.

  • Meagan Heidelberg moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Virgodiva59,
    Thank you so much for sharing. If you do not get the responses you’re looking for, we do recommend you going to our Facebook page to post on the visitor section! Sometimes more of our community will see it there.

    Best – Meagan, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • Susan
    2 years ago

    Wake up hot almost every night. I am cold during the daytime and keep under throws all day. Wake up sweating in middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep for a while. What’s odd is that my body temperature always runs cool – 95.6 to 97.6 – even when I’m hot. Weird. In the winter I’m always end up burning up in the grocery store and can’t wait to get out in the cold.

  • Meagan Heidelberg moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Susan,
    You’re certainly not alone! Thank you for commenting and being a part of our community. We appreciate you sharing with us.

    Meagan, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • katey106
    2 years ago

    I too have this problem. I entered into menopause when I was about 35. I’m 51 now, so I thought menopause was never ending! I am glad to know that I am not the only one who wakes up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, sometimes so bad that I have to change clothes. Does anyone also suffer from lack of desire and libido? Maybe if we all get together and tell out doctors and reseachers about this, some studies will be done!

  • Meagan Heidelberg moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Katey106,
    Thank you for commenting! Here is some information that may help answer your question regarding decreased desire and libido; https://multiplesclerosis.net/symptoms/sexual-dysfuncion/. Thank you so much for being a part of our community! If you’d like to know more information, you can always type in our search box a key word and multiple articles or stories will pop up relating to the word!

    Warmly – Meagan, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • 19qdsav
    2 years ago

    As I read your story I felt like you were writing about me. Although I am post menopause now, I too started with night over heating back in my 30’s when I was diagnosed with MS. I thought it was just me. Glad to hear I’m not crazy and am not alone.

  • Meagan Heidelberg moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi 19qdsav,
    You’re certainly not alone. We always want to make sure our community knows this! Thank you for commenting!

    Meagan, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • Azjackie
    2 years ago

    Wow! I again thought I was the only one. My doctor even looks at me funny. I have night sweats but thought I was entering menopause (46) but I am told by my doctor oh no too early.

    It’s my MS? I have only been experiencing a massive problem since I was hit by a drunk driver and soon developed MS. Xmas shopping in a snow storm with my head steaming and my Brother looking at me as if I was on fire.

    Thank you everyone for letting me know I am not the only one.

  • Meagan Heidelberg moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Azjackie –

    Thank you for reading, as well as commenting! You’re not alone – as you can see with our community feedback! We appreciate you being a part of our community.

    Best – Meagan, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • potter
    2 years ago

    I just started having the hot flash in the middle of the night. It’s not menopause, went through that 15 years ago. I go to bed all snuggled in the covers but wake up two hours later melting. We keep our house at 64 at night 66 during the day. So I throw off the covers and lay there naked until I cool down. I think this is why I have been extra tired lately. Sleeping in tomorrow. Potter

  • Meagan Heidelberg moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi Potter!
    Thank you for commenting. With any new or worsening symptoms, we like to encourage our community members to speak with their physician or health team. Please know you’re not alone!
    So sorry for the delay in response,

    Meagan, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • mascha
    3 years ago

    Yes i have pain to extreme cold or heat.But strange as at night i get hot.I would rather have a cold room with lots of blankets.Some reason anxiety sets on if the room is too hot?

  • Courtnye
    3 years ago

    We have a King size bed, king sized sheets and comforter and then my hubby has 2 or 3 twin sized blankets on top. I use the AC, ceiling fan,a tower fan pointed on my face, a bed fan (sets at the foot of the bed an blows under the covers), a cool pad under the sheet and a water cool pillow. If I could talk my hubby into an old fashion water bed without a heater my night heat might be tolerable. I miss cuddling, it is so gross to cuddle-up with a sweaty slime ball.

  • anniejustannie
    3 years ago

    ‘Sounds very familiar. First of all, I can’t sleep on regular sheets…they feel awful on my right leg. I wear next to nothing to bed and only use light covers but wake up every morning with a sweaty chest. I’m beyond menopause and have always said my MS symptoms are minimal but I’m realizing more and more things in my life are related to it. I’m almost 65 and was diagnosed at around 38. No meds…’haven’t seen a neurologist in years. Maybe it’s time…

  • AJoy
    4 years ago

    It is always interesting to find that a symptom that has been attributed to something else, ends up being common for MSers, even the guys getting “hot flashes”. I started getting them a couple of years ago, but I do think mine are menopausal, at least to some extent. When the hormones should balance in a few years, I’ll know better who to blame.

    My hands and feet are generally cold, even in the heat of the summer it can happen. I find that can be relieving, when I need something cool on my neck during a hot flash- instant cold-pack.

    I do not sleep in pjs. I love being covered up in a nice weight blanket, even in the summer. Just a sheet doesn’t cut it. I run the AC in the summer, if its too warm at night for the window fan. I cuddle under blankets and comforter in the winter, hoping to generate enough body heat to trap, to keep me warm. I am an expert at the covers relay- on and off, and back on, in a flash! I get both hot flashes, and then chills, throughout the night, as well as on and off during the day. I have to keep a fan near me, even if its a paper plate, to cool off when I feel my ears start the fire.

    Thanks for letting us know we are all in it together!

  • itasara
    4 years ago

    SO GLAD to read your article. I have night sweats that come and go. Now that the weather is colder I’m not getting them so much, but I can’t stand being cold so I wear warm long underwear from Nov. to April, use a heating pad at night and an electric mattress cover, but that doesn’t seem to cause the night sweats. If I am hot I turn down the heating devices but I can have sweats weather it is hot or cold. I figure it was more hormonal than MS, but after reading this article I’m not so sure. I do take HRT but recently I agreed to cut down the the dose, so maybe that also could be why I don’t have so many night sweats any more. On the other hand, the heat doesn’t bother me the way some MS patients report. I don’t like either extremes-hot or cold- but I don’t feel I am affected by either b/c of my MS. I don’t use my AC unless it is so humid that it is unbarable or in my car on very hot days. I think I turned on the AC three times this summer in the house.I keep the heat down usually around 69 and when possible use my gas fireplace inserts so as not to run the furnace all the time. Last winter was the worse I ever had to live thru, and although I hear it could be worse or bad this winter, so far that has not been the case. In the late 50’s today, but it will keep getting colder from here.

  • Dee Dee
    4 years ago

    I, too, experience extreme “night” sweats EVERY night! I am well past the age for hormonal causes, and can get no Endocrinologist to explain what is happening. I have been tested for diabetes and thyroid problems, and they are not the cause. I have been told that the Requip I take for restless legs can cause sweating but not to this extent. The pharmacist plugged in my med list and it showed the restless leg med could cause this, but also showed Tysabri could cause this. However, neither my MS doctor nor my infusion nurse say they have never heard this as a side effect of Tysabri. All I can say is that I have been on Tyabri for almost 7 years, and they sweating gets worse and worse – it occurs every night – bed soaked, pajamas soaked, hair soaked – awful. I end up getting up and going to my recliner in the living room with towels across the back and, maybe, if I am lucky, I will get back to sleep for short naps. How I function on as little sleep as I get each night, I do not know. If someone would just admit that this horrible experience does relate to MS and MS meds, then at least I would know what to blame. Meanwhile, I have made another appointment with a new endocrinologist to seek answers. Dee Dee

  • Mary
    4 years ago

    Having MS, I seem to fare better in colder weather than warm/hot – until the cold winter nights when I am under the covers one minute, then on top of the covers the next! I do this several times at night. In the summer time, I find myself switching from the head of the bed to the foot of the bed, all night long. For those women out there that are at the age of menopause, as myself, I have found that Black Cohosh helps with hot flashes to which I was blaming this discomfort every night until I read this post! Thanks for sharing!

  • H Parks
    4 years ago

    I’m glad to hear others experience this. I thought I was going through menopause, and then my doctor said I was still a male. The bedsheets at night are on, off, on, off, most nights. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed the winter, snow, and cold. This now makes things interesting. I’m just glad that the sheets are wet from sweat and not loosing control of my bladder.

  • LuvMyDog
    4 years ago

    I’m always cold in the Winter and I hate being cold, so I wear sweats, three layers of long-sleeve t-shirts and I have several blankets on my bed.
    But, I have to keep the heat way down in my house so that I’m surrounded by cool air.
    If I get too hot, my heart rate jacks up, becomes irregular and it’s miserable.
    I find I get very warm in the early morning hours, 3 a.m. to around 6 am., after that, I’m cold again.
    I rarely sleep well, lucky if I get 5 hours a night, a few nights a week.

  • Marie
    4 years ago

    Your story sounds very similar! I always thought it was left over from pregnancy and that my hormones just never got back to normal. My pregnancy triggered my MS, and I never put the night hot flashes together with MS. I am like you, I have a fan blowing directly on me, I cover the register in our bedroom so the rest of the house gets heat, but not the bedroom, I open the window at night (I live in MN, and it can be -20 and I still have the window at least cracked),I will stick my feet out of the blankets and into the air from the fan. However during the day I am in socks, hoodies, flannels, blankets, etc. and my fingers and toes are like ice.

    I have woken up soaked in sweat before, but it doesn’t always happen. I have taken a shower at 2am because I just can’t seem to cool down. I have tossed and turned and lost many hours of sleep due to being too hot.

  • mmcclaskey
    4 years ago

    use sheets to keep from being cold just to wake up with cold wet sheets around upper body. time to work on this issue

  • Jubilee1210
    4 years ago

    Oh gosh. Same for me. Light nightgown, temp in house turned way down. I’d turn the fan on too, but my husband won’t let me. Very uncomfortable.

  • Chris G
    4 years ago

    Hi Stephanie, I’m a man, that also has the same issue with the cold and warm zone. My ideal good zone is 70 degree to 90 degrees. At night I use an electric blanket (set at level 4 of 10 settings) and only cover my lower body(feet to mid stomach), and then a second light blanket on top of the electric blanket which covers my entire body. The excess heat can escape through the lighter blanket keeping my upper body cooler and my lower body. It took a while to finally find the right combination. With out this combination I would be so cold, I couldn’t sleep, or I would be soaked in sweat.

  • Grandma5
    4 years ago

    I laughed when I read your story because it sounds like me. Some nights I change my pajamas three times. I used to be just like you and could never get warm and loved being bundled under the covers. Since I was in my 50s when I was diagnosed I just assumed it was menopause however 7 years later all the other menopause symptons have gone but I still have the problem at night. I am also thinking it has something to do with the MS but when I mention it to the doctors they always say it is probably menopause. I would love to see someone do a study on this.

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