The Surprising Link Between Sleep and Dehydration


You probably know that you need adequate sleep and hydration to stay healthy. However, you may not realize how closely the two are connected.

Adults who sleep 6 hours or less each night are up to 59% more likely to be dehydrated, compared to those who get a full 8 hours of sleep. That’s according to a recent study by Pennsylvania State University.

Researchers believe one underlying cause is vasopressin. This hormone maintains your water balance and rises during the later stages of sleep. If you miss those hours, your kidneys won’t retain enough fluid.

This is just one example of how fluid intake and sleep affect each other. Find out more about daily habits that can help protect your mental and physical wellbeing.

Sleep Habits:

  1. Schedule sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day is one of the most effective ways to increase the quality and quantity of your sleep. You’ll lower your risk for insomnia and dehydration by strengthening your body’s natural rhythms.
  2. Practice nasal breathing. The average adult loses about 1 liter of fluid each night. You can dramatically lower that amount by breathing through your nose instead of your mouth. Lying on your back with your head slightly elevated will help.
  3. Cool off. A hot bedroom also contributes to moisture loss, so turn your thermostat down. As a bonus, you’ll save on energy and probably fall asleep faster.

Hydration Habits:

  1. Spread out your intake. Aim to drink about an ounce of water for each pound of body weight. It’s easier if you sip throughout the day. Foods like celery, strawberries, and tomatoes count too.
  2. Drink water first. Start the day with a big glass of water. It will help to make up for some of the fluid you lost overnight.
  3. Postpone coffee. That glass of water will probably wake you up just as well as your usual cup of coffee, so you can save your latte for later. Excessive caffeine may interfere with your sleep, especially if you continue consuming it after about 2 pm.
  4. Rehydrate after workouts. Water is usually sufficient for replacing the fluids you lose at the gym. Sports drinks may be appropriate for very long and intense exercise but check the labels to see how much sugar and calories they contain.
  5. Limit alcohol. It’s the one beverage that actually dehydrates you. Drink responsibly and avoid any cocktails close to bedtime.
  6. Avoid sugar. Dehydration tends to make you crave sweets, but sugary beverages are more difficult for your body to absorb. Stick to plain or naturally flavored water, especially if you’re watching your weight.
  7. Use less salt. A diet high in sodium will increase your risk for dehydration. Processed foods and bread are two major sources, so eat them in moderation.

More Tips:

  1. Treat nocturia. If you make 3 or more trips to the bathroom each night, you may have a condition called nocturia or nighttime urination. Trying to control it by drinking less water can backfire because your urine becomes more concentrated. Seek medical care instead.
  2. Fight cramps. Stiff muscles are another physical symptom of dehydration that may keep you up at night. In addition to water, try daily stretching and massage.
  3. See your doctor. Your family physician can answer your personal questions about hydration, sleep, and other health issues. That may include the implications of any chronic conditions or medications that are concerns for you.

Increase your energy levels and enjoy greater health. Understanding the relationship between hydration and sleep can help you make daily choices that will enhance the quality of your life.

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