When you consider how many different factors can negatively affect your sleep, dehydration isn’t usually high on the list. We all know that pillows, mattresses, room temperature, pre-bed routines, and body positioning play significant roles. But if you’ve been having trouble getting quality sleep and can’t find a culprit, you may want to explore dehydration as a possibility.
Keep reading to find out how dehydration affects your sleep and what you can do about it.
Potential Consequences of Dehydration
It is possible to be dehydrated even when you don’t feel thirsty, so relying on thirst alone to guide you is never a good idea. The consequences of dehydration can range from mild to severe, and include headaches, dizziness, confusion, fatigue, organ failure and even death in extreme cases. At night, dehydration can disrupt your sleep so you wake up not rested and still tired. It can also lead to a dry throat and nasal passages that lead to snoring and a raw, parched mouth in the morning. Trying to sleep while dehydrated can also lead to leg cramps and muscle spasms that will keep you up.
Surprisingly, dehydration actually increases the urge to use the bathroom in the middle of the night!
The Sleeping Environment and Dehydration
It makes sense that sleeping in a dry environment can dehydrate you faster than an environment with higher humidity levels. If your bedroom is particularly dry, you can become dehydrated while you sleep, or if you already are dehydrated, the situation will be made worse. And if you sleep in an environment that is conducive to dehydration, the sleep hormone melatonin may be affected, which can throw off your circadian rhythm and lead to poor quality sleep.
Sleep Duration and Dehydration
In 2018, the journal Sleep published research that found adults that sleep six hours per night or less have a higher chance of being dehydrated than those who slept longer.
Some believe these findings indicate that poor sleep symptoms like fatigue, headache or muddled thinking that many people experience in the morning may be caused by dehydration during the night.
The research was performed on around 20,000 Chinese and US adults. Those who claimed to sleep six hours a night or fewer across both groups had a 59% higher risk of being dehydrated than those who slept seven to eight hours regularly. The key may be a hormone called vasopressin. While you sleep, your pituitary gland uses vasopressin to signal the kidneys to retain fluid. Typically, more vasopressin is released later on in the sleep cycle, which is a period the shorter duration sleepers don’t reach.
Fluid Loss During Sleep
It’s important to start the night well hydrated because you will lose fluid simply through the act of sleeping. The act of breathing leads to fluid loss, and this is exacerbated if you breathe through your mouth or snore during the night. As mentioned above, sleeping in a dry environment can increase fluid loss, as can exercising intensely in the evening or drinking alcohol to excess before bed.
Tips for Staying Hydrated at Night
It’s easy to assume that guzzling copious amounts of water before bed would be the solution to staying hydrated and having a more restful sleep, but that might not be the case. You may end up making multiple trips to the bathroom during the night, which would disrupt your sleep anyway.
It’s better to think of hydration as a whole day type of activity and not just think of it when you are faced with going to bed.
Some useful tips you can use include:
- Begin the hydration process as soon as you wake up by drinking a glass of water.
- Spread fluid intake throughout the day and never go more than a couple hours without consuming some water.
- Remember that water is the best beverage to help hydrate you. Drinks like tea, coffee and alcohol contain water but actually have the opposite effect.
- Eat foods with high water content like fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid caffeine for up to six hours before bed.
- Use a humidifier in your sleeping space, if needed.
- Drink more water if you work out heavily or sweat for another reason.
- Focus on getting seven to eight hours to maximize vasopressin levels.
Staying hydrated at night to avoid the negative effects of dehydration can be challenging, but it’s definitely within reach. At SAMINA, we have a wide range of products that can help you have a holistic, natural sleep and avoid sleep-related dehydration. For pricing or any other questions, request more information here.