Night sweats aren't pleasant. You may wake up so damp you'll need to change your clothing or bed sheets. And if you're feeling hot after eating carbs in particular, your diet may be to blame for really bad night sweats.
The causes of night sweats vary. Sometimes, it may be as simple as too many blankets or sleeping in heavy clothes, and other times it can be indicative of an underlying illness.
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But if you find yourself wondering why you get hot flashes after you eat — specifically, sweating after eating carbs like sugar — there's a reason for that. Here's what it means if you overheat at night after a sugary snack.
How Eating Too Much Sugar Can Cause Night Sweats
Carbohydrates — a class of nutrient that includes starches, fiber and sugar — are a key source of fuel for your body, per the American Diabetes Association.
The amount and types of carbs you eat can have a direct influence on your blood sugar levels. For example, starchy, fibrous and naturally sugary carbs — like grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables — provide sustained energy.
But eating too much processed sugar can cause night sweats. Indeed, the sugar sweats can be a real thing.
Too much sugar can make you sweat because eating the simple carbs found in processed foods like candy and baked goods may cause your blood sugar to rapidly spike and then fall, according to Sanford Health. And one side effect of these blood sugar fluctuations is — you guessed it — sweating.
So if you're wondering why you get hot flashes after you eat or why you sweat after eating sugar, these blood glucose crashes may be to blame. They can happen to anyone, and can be especially common during diabetes treatment, per the Mayo Clinic.
But does diabetes cause these hot flashes? "Sweating after eating is not considered a sign of diabetes," says Seogeun Hong, MD, an internal medicine doctor with St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California. "However, if a patient who takes diabetes medications has sweating, it can be a sign of low blood sugars (hypoglycemia)."
Other Symptoms of Hypoglycemia During Sleep
Sweating and feeling hot at night isn't the only symptom of hypoglycemia. Per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, other nighttime symptoms include:
- Having nightmares or crying out
- Feeling fatigued the next morning
- Feeling disoriented when you wake up
How to Deal With Night Sweats
Binge eating carb-rich foods or eating too much sugar before bed can lead to sweating all night, so stop snacking about three hours before you go to sleep to give your body time to properly digest, per the Mayo Clinic.
If you must have a sweet snack before bedtime but often feel hot after eating carbs, choose something low in the nutrient to avoid night sweats after eating sugar.
Also, steer clear of other foods and beverages that can trigger sweating, such as alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
On the other hand, if you have diabetes and are already feeling cold and clammy from a hypoglycemia episode, eating or drinking something sugary — like fruit juice, honey or sugar — can help stabilize your blood glucose quickly, per the Mayo Clinic.
Whether you're feeling hot after eating carbs or have night sweats for another reason, Dr. Hong says these other tips can also help you stay more cool while you snooze:
- Sleeping with a fan on
- Wearing loose cotton clothing to bed
- Using cotton bed linens
- Staying hydrated
If you're experiencing night sweats along with other symptoms like fever, cough or weight loss, an underlying illness may be to blame, says Steven Reisman, MD, a cardiologist at the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center in New York City. If this is the case for you, visit your doctor to identify and treat the root condition.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Low Blood Glucose (Hypoglycemia)"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Sweating"
- Sanford Health: "Sugar Crash Effects and How to Fix Them"
- American Diabetes Association: "Get Smart on Carbs"
- Mayo Clinic: "Hypoglycemia"
- Mayo Clinic: "What are your sleep busters?"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.