Written By: Karla Tafra
Staying hydrated throughout the day is a must, but what about drinking water before bed? Are you one of those people who finds that they wake up super dehydrated and keeps a water bottle near their bedside table or are you better off with having your last sip for dinner? And is one better than the other? Let’s find out!
Your Body During Sleep
During sleep, your body performs all the most important repairing, recovering, and rebalancing processes that help you conserve and restore energy, improve muscle recovery, promote brain function and cognition, and even help strengthen your immune system.
That’s why focusing on improving your sleeping quality is one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Sleep deprivation can cause a plethora of negative effects in your body, from activating inflammation and making you more prone to infections and diseases, to causing anxiety, lack of energy, and inability to focus.
What Drinking Water Before Bed Does to Your Body?
While you sleep and your body undergoes all of these processes, it works in hibernation mode which still requires adequate hydration levels in your body in order to allow the optimal function of all organs and tissues.
And during the night, you can’t replenish those lost fluids, which leads you to believe you need to hydrate right before bed. Research shows how your body seems to be a bit smarter than you think and actually kicks in your circadian rhythm for you to retain water if you’re actually so dehydrated that it struggles to perform all of its important tasks. This is why you sometimes might wake up puffier than you would want, especially after a late, sodium-rich dinner that absorbed all the water from your system.
So, does that mean that you need to drink up before bed to ensure that doesn’t happen? And is dehydration during sleep that bad?
Dehydration During Sleep
Even though your body knows how to regulate its water levels during the night through water retention, going to sleep already dehydrated might cause a variety of sleep disruptions. You might wake up more often, experience muscle spasms and migraines, and overall be more restless, causing poor quality sleep and reduced REM phase.
REM is an important sleep phase that helps with memory consolidation, emotional processing, and brain development. It also causes dreaming and the less time you spend in it per night, the lower the chances of quality recovery. And studies show how inadequate sleep might have a direct correlation to dehydration as your body might work harder during the day as it functions in overdrive.
Over-Hydration During Sleep
On the other hand, drinking too much water before bed might cause a more frequent need to urinate which again makes you wake up more often during the night. This biological need might sometimes be ignored if your body is extremely tired, but most of the time it will wake you up and cause you to get out of bed and take a trip to your bathroom.
And while some people have no trouble falling back asleep, others struggle with nocturia, sometimes staying up for hours before finally dozing off. This contributes to sleep deprivation and overall poor sleep quality which has a detrimental effect on your overall health over time.
Late Night Meals and Drinking Water
So, if drinking too much before bed causes you to wake up more often and potentially disrupts your sleep, what happens if you’re used to late-night meals? Should you be drinking water after your dinner?
Late-night meals are generally not recommended as they’re known to cause digestive discomfort that can further affect your sleep quality, and adding fluids to the table only makes your body work harder to digest your food before you’re off to dreamland.
On the other hand, going hungry to bed might also cause sleep disruptions and negatively affect your sleep. So, what are you to do?
How to Prevent Dehydration Before Bed Without Disrupting Your Sleep?
The goal is to find that sweet spot of staying hydrated before you go to sleep, but avoiding drinking a whole bottle of water right before you get under the covers. How this looks for you and your daily schedule will depend on a variety of factors, from how you deal with hydration throughout the day to what type of foods you’ve included in your meal plan. Some of the best tips to prevent sleep disruptions either by muscle cramps caused by dehydration or frequent urination caused by drinking too much include:
- Stay hydrated throughout the day - probably the best tip you can follow to avoid going to sleep dehydrated is to drink plenty of water during the day. If you’re tracking your water intake, don’t leave the majority of your daily goal for after dinner. Rather space it out throughout the day so you’re always working with adequate water levels.
- Avoid late meals - if possible, try to schedule an earlier dinner and avoid late meals that will make you feel thirsty.
- Avoid late workouts - again, if possible, try to avoid working out before bed as it will undoubtedly make you intake more fluids than you normally would, causing you to wake up during the night.
- Improve your sleep quality - and not just for the sake of avoiding dehydration. Implementing good sleeping habits will help improve your overall health and longevity, help strengthen your immune system, and lower your risk of infections.
- Keep your bedroom temperature moderate - a hot sleeping environment may cause you to sweat and lose precious fluid and electrolytes.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed - since both are known to have a diuretic effect, they might cause you to wake up and run to the bathroom. Additionally, caffeine is a stimulant and might make it harder for you to fall asleep.
- Avoid sugar-filled drinks and food in the late part of your day - sugar is known to cause dehydration so it’s best if you stay away from it in the evening and especially right before bedtime.
- Hydrate in the morning - no matter how well-hydrated you were yesterday, start your day with a glass of water. Not only will it help mitigate any potential dehydration stages during the night, but it will also stimulate your digestive system, jumpstart your metabolism, and help you start your day on the right note.
So, When To Drink Water Before Bed?
Experts recommend reducing your water intake in the hour or two before you go to bed and slowly weaning out during the day. So, say you’re going to sleep at 10 pm. The ideal time to have your last meal would be around 7 pm, with the latest glass of water shortly after that.
If you feel thirsty during the time between your dinner and sleep, it’s absolutely fine to sip some water and prevent dehydration. Just don’t chug a whole water bottle at once.
Dehydration is a serious condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly, so whenever you experience even one of the above mentioned symptoms, take it as a sign to drink up!