Is Drinking Water at Night Before Bed Bad for You?

Reviewed on 11/30/2021

You need to drink water and you need sleep, but when and how much are equally disputed. Drinking too much water before bed can override this programming, causing potential problems with your sleep. But there are plenty of benefits to drinking water before bed, too, so let's look at both sides.
You need to drink water and you need sleep, but when and how much are equally disputed. Drinking too much water before bed can override this programming, causing potential problems with your sleep. But there are plenty of benefits to drinking water before bed, too, so let's look at both sides.

There's a lot of confusing information about what is and isn't "good" for you when it comes to hydration and sleep. You need to drink water and you need sleep, but when and how much are equally disputed, especially since there's a direct correlation between the two. Drinking too much water can interrupt your sleep, and being sleep deprived can contribute to dehydration.

The human body is programmed to slow normal processes during sleep, including urine production. Drinking too much water before bed can override this programming, causing potential problems with your sleep. But there are plenty of benefits to drinking water before bed, too, so let's look at both sides.

Benefits of drinking water before bed

It's common to feel thirsty before bed. A study in rats suggested that drinking water might be part of the sleep-wake cycle. The drive to drink more is your body's attempt to prevent dehydration overnight. Everything you do during sleep contributes to fluid loss. Breathing, snoring, and sweating all increase your level of dehydration.

Drinking water before bed can help lower your core body temperature, which induces sleepiness. While sleeping, your body produces sweat to keep you cool. If you're hydrated when you go to bed, your body won't have trouble producing this sweat. Being hydrated can also prevent headaches, which disrupt sleep. If you have chronic migraines, drinking water before bed can lessen the severity of migraines that may start overnight and impact your sleep.

Drawbacks of drinking water before bed

The main drawback of drinking water before bed is a condition called nocturia, which is when you wake up multiple times during the night with a strong urge to urinate. Nocturia can contribute to sleep deprivation, which can negatively affect your mental and physical health. Long-term sleep deprivation can reduce productivity, lead to falls, and cause depression, among other conditions.

Certain conditions increase the risk for nocturia, including:

  • Obesity. Studies have found that overweight patients are more likely to wake up at least once every night to urinate.
  • Heart disease. People with heart problems rely on medications, like diuretics, which increase the urge to urinate.
  • Diabetes. High blood sugar levels can stimulate urine production.
  • Mental health issues. Much like people with heart disease, people with mental health challenges might be on medications that increase urine production.
  • Bladder problems. Those with pre-existing bladder conditions, including bladder infections or an overactive bladder, are likely to wake up at night to urinate.

The best way to treat nocturia involves identifying and addressing its underlying cause. This may involve:

  • Not drinking water three hours before going to bed.
  • Not taking diuretics six hours before going to bed.
  • Maintaining a constant level of hydration during the day, which should keep you from feeling overly thirsty right before bed.
  • Discussing nocturia with your doctor so they can develop a treatment plan with you.

Bedwetting is another drawback of drinking water at night. You may think that this issue is limited to children, but many adults wet the bed, too. This can be caused by stress, illness, or medication. Limiting your fluid intake for a few hours before bed and emptying your bladder right before you go to sleep can help prevent instances of bedwetting.

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Bottom line

Drinking water before bed isn't bad for you. It's important to stay hydrated, even while you're sleeping. Your body does all of its repair work while you're sleeping, and water is vital to these processes. Not being hydrated when you go to bed can disrupt healing and a host of other necessary things. If you feel thirsty before going to bed, drink a small glass of water to help you get through the night. Empty your bladder before going to sleep to decrease your chances of experiencing nocturia.

Staying hydrated and maintaining good sleep habits can be difficult. If you're experiencing trouble sleeping or find yourself waking up multiple times in the night to use the bathroom, you may have an underlying health condition. Talk to your doctor about what you're experiencing.

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References
Sleep Advisor: "How Good Is Drinking Water Before Bed For You?"

Sleep Foundation: "Drinking Water Before Bed."

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