Itchy skin at night, called nocturnal pruritus, can be severe enough to disrupt sleep regularly. Why this happens can range from natural causes to more serious health concerns.
For most people, natural mechanisms could be behind nighttime itch. Your body's natural circadian rhythms, or daily cycles, influence skin functions like temperature regulation, fluid balance, and barrier protection.
These functions change at night. For example, your body temperature and the blood flow to your skin both increase in the evening, warming your skin. A rise in skin temperature can make you feel itchy.
Along with your body's natural circadian rhythms, a number of different health conditions can cause itchy skin to become worse at night. These include:
- skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), psoriasis, and hives
- bugs like scabies, lice, bed bugs, and pinworms
- kidney or liver disease
- iron deficiency anemia
- thyroid problems
- psychological conditions such as stress, depression, and schizophrenia
- restless legs syndrome
- cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma
- nerve disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, shingles, and diabetes
- allergic reactions to substances like chemicals, drugs, foods, or cosmetics