Wet Dreams: The Importance of Hydration and Sleep

By: Samantha Kostaras

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Staying hydrated and well-rested can seem like a tall order. 

Research on the connection between sleep and hydration is limited, but there’s some evidence that these wellness wins may be mutually beneficial. Here’s how they may be related and tips for getting a great, hydrated night’s sleep.

The Connection Between Hydration and Sleep

Understanding how your sleep and hydration levels might be related is helpful context for being your healthiest self.

Sleep Deprivation May Worsen Dehydration

Not getting enough rest may make you more likely to be dehydrated. One large study of almost 20,000 people in both the United States and China found that those who slept only 6 hours every night had higher levels of inadequate dehydration than those who got their full 8 hours of rest. Why this happens isn’t entirely clear, but it may have to do with a night-time hormone. 

You lose about a pint of water every day through some of your body’s most basic functions. Since your body can’t replenish these fluids when you’re asleep, some experts believe that internal clocks kick in to manage hydration levels by releasing a water-retention hormone called vasopressin.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, you may disrupt this natural process and miss out on this crucial hormone. As a result, you may wake up feeling pretty parched.

Dehydration Might Decrease Sleep Quality

While one study found that mild dehydration doesn’t seem to affect the sleep quality of healthy males in their twenties, it seems likely that more severe dehydration symptoms could have an impact.

When you don’t have enough fluids in your system, you may feel tired, lethargic, and just generally unwell. Headaches, dry mouth, and dizziness are all common symptoms of dehydration. And it’s not a far stretch to assume that these physical sensations can mess with how well you sleep.
Muscle cramps and spasms, other symptoms of dehydration, can also be major sleep disruptors. If you’re constantly tossing and turning due to muscle pain, you probably won’t be getting much quality rest. Dehydration can make you feel anxious and irritable, and sleep is often elusive if you’re feeling stressed or on edge.

How Drinking Enough Water Benefits Your Overall Health

Again, there are currently no studies that can prove that staying properly hydrated can improve your sleep quality. But we do know that being even slightly dehydrated can screw with your mood, energy levels, and overall well-being. 

On the flip side, drinking enough water every day can:

  • Help your cells and organs function optimally
  • Improve regular digestion
  • Boost your energy levels
  • Help regulate your body temperature
  • Support healthy skin
  • Reduce food cravings

So, even if science is still figuring out how staying hydrated leads to better sleep quality,  it’s important to drink up for many other reasons. 

How to Prevent Dehydration During Sleep

Looking to make sure you’re hydrated before hitting the hay? There are several ways to promote a healthy, hydrated snooze.

  • Maintain hydration during the day. The best way to prevent dehydration is to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Aim for 4 to 6 glasses of water to stay properly hydrated.
  • Keep your room at a comfy temperature. You’ll lose more water during the night if you’re overheated and start to sweat. So, keep your room at a temperature that’s comfortable for sleeping. Somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit should do the trick.
  • Don’t drink too much right before bed. Although it’s important to drink fluids during the day, you’ll want to avoid chugging a ton of water right before bed. This will only make you have to get up to use the restroom during the night, which can disrupt your sleep. Stop drinking around 2 hours before you plan to go to sleep.

When to Talk With a Doctor

Many sleep and hydration problems can be solved by implementing healthier habits. But in some cases, there may be an underlying condition that’s causing these issues. 

If you’re drinking enough water and still not getting a good night’s sleep—or vice versa—talk with your doctor. They can help you rule out any underlying medical conditions and find the best treatment plan for you.

Takeaway

While the relationship between sleep and hydration is still being explored, it’s clear that drinking enough water and getting enough quality sleep are both key to your overall health.

To get the best sleep possible, drink plenty of fluids during the day and avoid drinking too close to bedtime. If you’re still having trouble, talk with your doctor to rule out any underlying conditions. With a little effort, you can make sure your system is well-rested, properly hydrated, and ready to take on the day.

Source List

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Aristotelous P, et al. (2019). Effects of controlled dehydration on sleep quality and quantity: A polysomnographic study in healthy young adults. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29411452/

Colwell, C. (2010). Preventing dehydration during sleep. https://www.nature.com/articles/nn0410-403

How much water should you drink? (2022). https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-water-should-you-drink

Is It Healthy To Drink Water Before Bed? (2022). https://health.clevelandclinic.org/drink-water-before-bed/

McNeil-Masuka J, et al. (2021). Insensible Fluid Loss. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544219/

Popkin BM, et al. (2011). Water, Hydration and Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/

Rosinger AY, et al. (2019). Short sleep duration is associated with inadequate hydration: cross-cultural evidence from US and Chinese adults. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30395316/

Taylor K, et al. (2022). Adult Dehydration. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555956/

What’s the Best Temperature for Sleep? (2021). https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-the-ideal-sleeping-temperature-for-my-bedroom/