Can Alcohol Detox Cause Night Sweats?

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Yes, alcohol detox can result in night sweats, occurring 2hrs - 10 days after last drink.

During alcohol detox, night sweats result from:


Why Does Detoxing From Alcohol Trigger Night Sweats?

Night sweats from alcohol detox are due to:

1. Changes In The Cardiovascular System

Alcohol affects every major organ and system in the body, including the cardiovascular system [2].

Although one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men, has the ability to shield against cardiovascular disease, prolonged and/or excessive alcohol consumption contributes to heart conditions such as cardiomyopathy, hypertension, and arrythmia [3].

Alcohol also increases heart rate, both during periods of drinking alcohol and as alcohol leaves the body during withdrawal [4].

A 2021 study published in the journal Sleep discovered that heavy alcohol consumption led to a 14% spike in nocturnal heart rate [5].

As heart rate increases, body temperature rises.

This causes blood vessels to dilate (vasodilation) in an effort to push more blood through the body to omit heat into the environment [6].

Perspiration results as the body attempts to cool itself down in a process called thermoregulation.

Even though alcohol affects body temperature and creates a "warm" sensation, the core body temperature decreases [7].

This is exacerbated by severe sweating and increases the chances of hypothermia in cold weather and climates.

Tachycardia, a condition in which the heart beats irregularly fast, is caused by both alcohol use disorder and alcohol withdrawal and has the potential to result in excessive sweating at night as well [8].


2. Alterations To The Central Nervous System

Alcohol acts as a depressant on the central nervous system--or CNS--which slows the connection between neurons, decelerates the speed of physical functions (such as walking, speech, and coordination), and affects key neurotransmitters [9].

With continued heavy drinking, the body and brain compensate for these changes to the central nervous system by over-generating excitatory signals and triggering a physiological reaction that includes body temperature fluctuations, facial flushing, heightened blood pressure, and sweating [10].

During alcohol withdrawal, internal systems that have been subdued by alcohol use are, in effect, turned back on, and the body continues to send out signals to counteract alcohol's inhibitory effects. This stimulates perspiration.

3. Alcohol Intolerance

Alcohol induced night sweats are also linked to alcohol intolerance [12].

Alcohol intolerance is caused by a genetic mutation that hinders the body from metabolizing alcohol normally.

Studies reveal that alcohol intolerance is typically seen in males of Asian descent [13].

Additional symptoms of alcohol intolerance include sweating, gastrointestinal issues, headaches, hives, nausea, facial flushing, rapid heartbeat, a runny nose, exacerbation of pre-existing asthma, and low blood pressure.

4. Alcohol Flushing

Flushing of the skin (particularly in the face, neck, and chest), and associated sweating, occur during intoxication and alcohol withdrawal, and are due to the absence of aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2), an enzyme produced by the liver that aids in alcohol metabolism [14].

The presence or absence of this enzyme is genetically determined.

Do Night Sweats Cause Alcohol To Leave The Body?

Somewhat. Only a small amount of alcohol - around 10% - is expelled in night sweats (and general perspiration), breath, and urine [15].

The remaining 90% of alcohol is expelled from the body through metabolic and detoxification processes performed by the liver, which heats up as it breaks down alcohol [16].

How Soon After Drinking Do Night Sweats Occur?

Between two hours and ten days after the last drink [17].

How Long Do Alcohol Withdrawal Night Sweats Last?

The length of time night sweats last depends on [18]:

  • Severity of the alcohol use disorder
  • Duration of alcohol abuse or use
  • Amount of alcohol consumed
  • Time of the last drink
  • Previous incidents of alcohol withdrawal
  • Overall health and nutritional status
  • Presence of a psychiatric disorder
  • Age

In cases of acute withdrawal, night sweats precede, or are accompanied by, more life-threatening forms of alcohol withdrawal, including [19]:


How Prevalent Are Alcohol Induced Night Sweats?

There is no exact number associated with the prevalence of alcohol-induced night sweats.

Are There Underlying Health Conditions That Contribute To Alcohol Induced Night Sweats?

The following conditions and circumstances increase the risk of night sweats from alcohol [21]:

  • Menopause (which is often accompanied by hot flashes)
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Smoking
  • Antidepressants (and other psychiatric agents), hormone-blocking drugs, and drugs to treat opioid addictions, such as methadone
  • Drug addiction
  • Emotional stress
  • Heat and humidity

Underlying medical conditions also contribute to night sweats:

  • Autonomic neuropathy
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Carcinoid tumors
  • Endocrine issues, including thyroid problems, obesity, and diabetes
  • Sleep disturbances due to medical conditions such as sleep apnea
  • Leukemia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Bone and bacterial infections
  • Stroke
  • Primary hyperhidrosis, a medical condition characterized by overactive sweat glands and excessive sweating
  • Fever

While night sweats are a common symptom of alcohol use disorder, they also occur after a single incident of drinking alcohol, as well as after binge drinking.


What Are The Health Consequences Of Night Sweats?

In addition to the physical discomfort and sleep disturbances that occur alongside night sweats, sweating causes the body to lose liquids and excess salt.

This increases the risk of dehydration and leads to the health risks associated with it: dizziness, fainting, headaches, nausea, electrolyte disturbances, and diarrhea [22].

Is There A Way To Prevent Night Sweats From Alcohol Withdrawal?

Experiencing night sweats on a regular basis is a warning sign of alcohol dependence and/or alcohol use disorder.

If severe night sweats occur during alcohol withdrawal in addition to other symptoms, seek medical advice.

If night sweats are rare after a few isolated times of drinking alcohol, it's encouraged to moderate alcohol consumption, drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol at least two hours before bed.

If night sweats are caused by alcohol intolerance, alcohol should be avoided altogether [23].

Night sweats and alcohol are closely related--but help for alcohol abuse is also widely available.

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About the author

Robyn Russell

Robyn Russell, has appeared in PsychCentral [1] [2] [3], Women's Health, Livestrong, She Knows, and Brevity, among others. She holds an MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco.

Content reviewed by Laura Morris (Clinical Lead).

Last Updated: November 8, 2023