Apr 21, 2023

Night Sweats and Alcohol Withdrawal: How Long Do They Last?

The process of alcohol withdrawal can be difficult for those trying to overcome addiction. One common challenge faced after quitting drinking is the experience of night sweats, which are often linked to alcohol withdrawal.

In this article, we’ll discuss the causes, effects, and duration of night sweats during withdrawal and offer helpful tips for managing this uncomfortable symptom as you work toward recovery.

Night Sweats: A Key Withdrawal Challenge

If you, or someone you care about, is struggling with alcoholism, quitting is the most important step toward overall recovery. However, it’s also frequently the most difficult. Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and challenging for many people.

For some, the most uncomfortable alcohol withdrawal symptom is night sweats. Night sweats are common but often uncomfortable, making it hard to focus on recovery.

Night sweats are episodes of excessive sweating during sleep. They are one of the most common symptoms experienced by individuals quitting drinking. They happen while going through the body changes that come with sobriety.

During the detoxification stage, the body starts working without alcohol to help. Making it one of the most common reasons people quitting alcohol experience sleep disturbances.

How Long Do Night Sweats Last After You Stop Drinking?

Night sweats usually last between 1-2 weeks after quitting drinking but can persist for up to a few months in severe cases. In the first week after quitting, night sweats are often severe as the body detoxes. In the second week, they typically improve but may still occur.

After 1-2 months, night sweats resolve for most people. However, some may experience them for longer depending on factors like the length of alcohol abuse and the amount consumed.

Why Night Sweats Happen

The reason that night sweats and alcohol withdrawal go hand-in-hand is due to how alcohol affects the body. Alcohol is a very powerful depressant, which means it slows down the body and the brain.

Alcohol also slows down the central nervous system. This is the system that regulates your body temperature and your sweating. Over time, the body of an alcoholic becomes used to the level of alcohol it’s given, which becomes the new “normal.”

However, once that person quits drinking, there’s nothing in the body to slow down the brain and the central nervous system. This means that within just a day or two of quitting drinking, all of the alcohol that was left has been broken down and flushed out.

The person has to deal with a body, brain, and central nervous system running harder and faster than they are used to. When you’re trying to get some sleep, that activity makes you sweaty and restless.

The Timeline of Night Sweats During Alcohol Withdrawal

How long night sweats last depends on the specifics of the person’s alcohol addiction. For most people, however, night sweats generally start within the first few days after the last drink. From this point, they can last for just a few days or drag on for weeks.

Mostly, it will depend on addiction severity, general health, and their comprehensive and effective recovery plan. What’s important to remember is that every recovery journey is unique, and those quitting alcohol should try not to compare their journey to anyone else’s.

Factors Affecting Night Sweat Duration and Severity

As we mentioned earlier, many factors can influence the duration and severity of night sweats. We’ll look at a few of those here. Some of the most influential factors include:

  • The severity of the alcohol addiction: People who drank much more heavily during their addiction are likelier to experience severe night sweats that last extended periods. This is primarily because the body needs more time to readjust to having no alcohol in the system.
  • Co-occurring medical conditions: Pre-existing medical problems, like diabetes or hormonal issues, can make night sweats worse. Medications taken for other conditions can often impact night sweats for recovery patients.
  • Stress & anxiety: High stress levels during the day can drastically affect sleep and night sweats. Stress and anxiety can significantly impact sleep, mainly when healthy coping strategies aren’t available.
  • Overall health and lifestyle: Having a healthier lifestyle, in general, can help reduce the severity and duration of night sweats. This includes eating well, getting regular physical activity, and drinking enough water can reduce night sweats and many other withdrawal symptoms.

Managing Night Sweats

So you know that night sweats are uncomfortable and disruptive to crucial sleep, but is there anything you can do? Yes, there is. Here are some tips on how to manage night sweats during alcohol withdrawal:

  • Keep it cool: Use light, natural bedding materials. Keep the room ventilated, and consider turning on a fan or AC. Look for a cooling pillow cover, as well.
  • Wear breathable, moisture-wicking sleepwear: This means natural fibers like cotton or bamboo fiber to help keep you cool and dry while you sleep.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water during the day can help give your body the crucial support it needs. Detoxification is a challenge even for people in peak physical shape. It needs a lot of water to flush out the toxins that have been building up.
  • Practice general relaxation and mindfulness techniques: This includes deep breathing exercises, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation. The goal is to reduce the stress and anxiety levels contributing to night sweats.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Night Sweats During Alcohol Withdrawal

Night sweats aren’t a cause for concern unless they persist for an extended time. Also, getting medical attention is essential if they occur with weight loss, severe pain, or fever. Recovery from alcohol addiction is a complex and ongoing process and often requires a well-rounded approach that includes treatment options like medication-assisted treatment, partial hospitalization programs, outpatient programs, and aftercare. You can build a personalized treatment program for your unique needs by speaking with a local addiction expert. Reach out today to get started.

    MCA Staff
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