Robert Lowell published "Night Sweat" in his 1964 collection For the Union Dead. The poem can be read as a vivid, nightmarish portrait of anxiety and self-doubt, as well as of the toll these emotions can take on a relationship. Its speaker, implied to be a writer, keeps waking up drenched in sweat—the product of his fear and anguish over being unable to write. He ultimately calls on his wife to relieve him of his burdens, as she has apparently done before. Lowell struggled with mental illness throughout his life, and his personal, emotional, and psychological experiences figured heavily into his writing. Lowell was also an important figure in the American confessional poetry movement. Like the Confessionalists Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, both of whom he taught, Lowell often included biographical details about himself and his relationships (including, notoriously, his ill-fated marriage to fellow writer Elizabeth Hardwick) in his work.