Water is vital to overall wellness. Representing approximately 60% of human bodies, it facilitates various physical processes from cell development and waste removal to digestion and assimilation – not to mention improving sleep! Hydration plays an integral part of overall wellness.
“Keeping yourself adequately hydrated is key to making sure that your body functions optimally throughout the day,” asserts Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, an plant-forward culinary nutritionist and author of The Clean and Basic Diabetes Cookbook who believes being dehydrated may interfere with sleep quality.
Too much water prior to bed can also interfere with restful rest, according to Vincent Pedre, MD, clinical head of Pedre Integrative Health in New York City and author of Cheerful Stomach. Your bladder could wake you throughout the night needing relief; then again, this would prevent good restful sleep in general.
What Science Says About Hydration And Sleep
Only limited research has been conducted into the relationship between hydration and sleep, yet available evidence indicates a correlation; limited sleep terms being linked with decreased hydration status.
Newgent and Dr. Pedre both highlight an extensive cross-sectional review, published in Sleep in February 2019, that involved over 20,000 American and Chinese adults who self-reported sleeping six hours or less per night compared to eight or more hours (the scientists studied this correlation as both too little sleep and too much have recently been linked with kidney issues).
The data indicated that amongst this population those self-reporting sleeping under six hours on average every night were linked with having low hydration status as estimated by pee tests compared to those sleeping eight or longer every evening (according to pee tests).
The scientists conducted further investigation of this correlation, finding both extreme sleep behaviour associated with higher chances of dehydration status (measured via pee tests).
According to Pedre, this information suggests a possible correlation between hydration and sleep.
One small review published in February 2018 in the Diary of Sleep Exploration demonstrated that lack of hydration had no significant influence on either the amount or quality of sleep for 12 healthy young adults, although its authors acknowledged further research needs to be done on the relationship.
Other research has demonstrated that vasopressin, a natural hormone produced in our bodies, helps avoid dehydration during sleep by increasing kidney water assimilation late in the cycle (so you won’t become dehydrated even if you don’t consume any fluid during the evening), according to an article published in StatPearls in August 2020.
“Vasopressin release increases during late sleep hours to assist with maintaining proper hydration status when water intake exceeds intake capacity and respiratory water loss increases,” states Pedre. Any interruptions during this timeframe could disrupt vasopressin’s arrival and lead to inadequate hydration levels.
Simply put, lack of sleep could contribute to dehydration.
Would Dehydration Be Able To Disturb Sleep?
Although research has yet to answer all the questions surrounding how hydration impacts sleep, specialists do possess an in-depth knowledge of what happens if someone becomes dehydrated (or consumes too much water), and even minor side effects of parchedness such as discomfort can negatively impact restful rest, according to Newgent.
Pedre notes that dehydration may result in adverse side effects that disturb sleep:
Muscle Fits Dehydration can result in muscle tightening, making it hard to sleep or even awakening someone during the night. Remember, muscle mass contains 76% water according to an August 2019 review survey published in Nutrients.
Muscle Cramping Muscle cramping is another telltale sign of dehydration, often leading to difficulty fixing one or more calf or foot muscles and awakening someone at midnight.
Headaches and migraine attacks may make sleeping difficult, making it harder to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep throughout the night.
Early Morning Thirst: Be Wary Being thirsty can wake you up during the middle of the night or early morning and prevent sleep.
Dry Mouth Sleep Disturbances A dry mouth can also create discomfort that interferes with restful night’s rest.