Why does my child’s head sweat so much while he’s sleeping?

Why does my child’s head sweat so much while he’s sleeping?

I see many mothers in my clinical practice who have noticed that their child is sweating excessively on their head while they sleep and ask me if this is normal.

Traditional Chinese medicine believes abnormal sweating (abnormal perspiration) can be a clue of certain internal organ disorders.

While most types of sweating is normal, if it persists for a long time then in some of these cases, the cause of sweating may be abnormal.

1. What is abnormal head sweating in children?

This quite often happens to young children, especially under 7 years old. In normal room temperature and normal clothing or bed cover, the child has excessive sweating at the back of their head, on their forehead and on the nose.

Even the mother realises that she has to change the pillow after the child’s sleep. It can happen during the night or during their daytime sleeps.

Long-term abnormal sweating could affect the child’s health and even development of the body if ignored, so parents should pay attention to this issue.

2. Causes of abnormal head sweating according to Chinese medicine

Due to the location of the sweating and the symptoms of the body, the following are common causes seen in the clinic:

i) Excessive Heat in the digestive system (the Stomach & Large Intestine):  

When children have excessive heat in the Stomach or Large Intestine, the heat will follow the channels and flow up to the head and the nose, causing sweating in this area.

For this cause of sweating, the following additional symptoms may also be seen:

  • red face and hot body while sleeping
  • they will always want to kick off the blankets or covers
  • the child may be easily irritated, anxious or crying
  • abdominal bloating, constipation, irregular bowel movement
  • very smelly stools, in young children (under 6 months) the stool may be very green

ii) Weakness in the Kidneys (especially Kidney Yin):

This type of abnormal sweating on the head usually happens to children under 3 years old and happens more during the night.

The location of the sweating is mainly the back of the head or neck and can cause the pillow to be wet. For this type of long-term sweating, the hair at the back of the head can reduce or thin out.

The body may also experience the following symptoms:

  • skinny, dry stools
  • dry skin
  • increased thirst – craving water or fluids
  • some children may become calcium deficient
  • traditional Chinese medicine also calls this type of sweating “Yin-deficient night sweating”.

3. How to balance diet and lifestyle to help abnormal head sweating?

If your child has abnormal sweating, I suggest you pay attention to the following:

i) Avoid feeding children deep-fried and spicy foods;

ii) Avoid eating too much at once, especially for dinner;

iii) Feed children earlier in the evening so that they’re not sleeping too soon after their meal;

iv) Children after 6 months old can eat certain amounts of fruit and vegetables;

v) Make sure that children have a bowel movement every day;

vi) Make sure the room temperature and the covers or bed-clothes are suitable for the child while sleeping;

vii) Ensure children have a certain amount of outdoor exercise and are drinking enough water (however, avoid drinking icy cold water);

If the abnormal sweating persists even after paying attention to the above-mentioned suggestions for 1 month, you should first see your child’s GP doctor for a general check.

If the sweating persists, you can also consult with your experienced traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to help find the cause.


Dr Ping Wang is the clinic founder and senior practitioner of Ping Ming Health. She has over 30 years of experience in traditional Chinese medicine teaching and practice. Dr Ping especially enjoys sharing her knowledge of Chinese medicine through our popular clinic articles, seminars and clinical training of students and practitioners.

  • Ruba

    thanks u so so much. this article helps to solve my son’s sleep sweat problems.. greets from Bangladesh

    7 December, 2016
  • Robin

    Thank you for the article

    20 July, 2020