The effects of dehydration are similar to the effects of lack of sleep. If you don’t get enough water, you may feel sluggish, experience mood swings and in general, just feel off. But, did you know that not getting enough water can also impact your quality of sleep?
What are the negative effects of dehydration?
We’ve all experienced it—you get to the end of your day and realize you’ve only had a few sips of water. Not good! When you’re dehydrated, you may experience:
- Increased thirst and a dry mouth
- Fatigue and confusion
- Headaches and dizziness
- Dry skin
- A rapid heart rate
It’s happens to all of us. You’re busy and sometimes the day gets away from you. However, if you’re not careful, constant dehydration can cause severe problems. Make sure you talk with your doctor if your symptoms are severe or you’re having a hard time maintaining healthy hydration levels.
Dehydration and sleep
Not only will dehydration effect your everyday life and health, it will impact your quality of sleep, too. Even though your body is mostly still while you sleep, it’s actually an active period where your body restores chemical balances, heals and recovers. In fact, one of sleep’s most important benefits is forming short- and long-term memories. When you sleep, your brain processes, transfers and stores all of the information you took in that day. If you’re not getting good, quality sleep, you may experience memory loss, trouble concentrating while awake, mood swings, a weakened immune system, poor balance, weight gain and risk of disease. Being dehydrated when you go to sleep will affect the way your body restores itself.
Let’s talk about a few ways your body may be effected by going to sleep dehydrated.
Dehydrated sleep = dry mouth and nose
When you go to bed dehydrated, you risk not getting a good night’s rest. You may experience a dry mouth and dry nasal passages, which can cause snoring, even if you’re not a regular snorer. This can keep you up, wake you up an not to mention, keep your partner up, too. The dryness can also cause a sore throat and hoarse voice when you wake up.
Going to sleep dehydrated can cause cramping
Have you ever woken up in the middle of night with an excrusiating leg cramp? Some people call them Charlie horses. If you haven’t had enough water during the day or before bed, you may experience cramping like this while you sleep, especially in your legs. This can be very painful, waking you up and keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep.
A night of dehydrated sleep impacts your whole day
Other than the obvious fact that waking up multiple times in the middle of the night means you’re not getting enough uninterrupted, REM sleep, going to bed dehydrated can have negative implications for the following day. You may feel less alert and experience a lack of energy. You may also notice that if you went to bed dehydrated, your cognitive performance suffers. That is your thinking, reasoning and remembering skills! Kind of important.
Important note: Even if you think you’re well-hydrated when you go to bed, you may be surprised to learn that you actually lose fluid while you sleep. Yep—even just breathing while you sleep, you lose fluid, especially if you snore or breathe through your mouth. You lose more fluid if you get sweaty while you sleep (hey, it happens to all of us), have worked out closer to bedtime without re-hydrating or had a lot of alcohol before going to bed.
Water x sleep: best practices
Unfortunately, you can’t fix your dehydration problems by chugging water before bed. That can actually have a negative impact on your sleep. If you wait until the end of the day to drink all your fluids, you’ll probably have to get up multiple times in the night to use the bathroom.
To be hydrated and therefore, get your best rest, you want to stay hydrated throughout the day. People used to say a good rule of thumb for water intake was 8 glasses a day, but now the National Academy of Medicine recommends drinking about 11 cups for the average female and about 15 cups for the average male. That may seem like a lot, but this also includes any water from foods you consume. And don’t forget, the amount of water you need varies from person to person and depends on your weight and height, level of exercise and diet, so chat with your doctor to figure out the right amount of water for you.
Pro tip: Don’t feel like measuring every ounce of water you drink? (We don’t blame you!) A good way to determine if you’re getting enough water is simple—drink water when you’re thirsty. Your body is smart. It will tell you when you need more water.
Another good practice to stay hydrated is to keep a reusable water bottle with you (fellow B Corporation, Soma, makes one we love!). If you always have water available, you’ll be able to quench your thirst whenever you need to. Plus, a reusable water bottle helps you keep track of how much water you've had. If you have a 20 ounce water bottle, you can do the math to keep up with how much water you've had and how much you still need to drink in a day. Not to mention, a reusable bottle reduces waste and is better for the planet. Slide your reusable bottle in your purse or backpack, keep it on your desk at work or on your nightstand so that you can stay hydrated and healthy.
Getting good rest is about more than getting enough water (although that certainly helps!). Having the right mattress and pillow are super important to getting your best sleep. It's also important to create a bedroom sanctuary that encourages rest and relation, one that you enjoy spending time in and look forward to coming home to every day.
Still think you could be sleeping better? Check out these sleep tips from highly successful people. Find out what they do to make sure they’re getting their best rest to be the best versions of themselves. Or head over to our Better Sleep Guide to start creating healthier sleep habits.