Very few Americans drink enough water or fluids to meet our optimal hydration rates. In fact, one recent study showed that as many as 80 percent of Americans are not drinking enough water. While we’re aware that we need to be getting more water than we probably are, it doesn’t always seem feasible or like a high priority in our busy lives. You’re probably aware that dehydration can cause fatigue, confusion, dry skin, and headaches, but you may not be as informed on the negative effects of dehydration on sleep. That’s right – not getting enough water throughout the day might be wreaking havoc on you at night without you even being aware of it! So how exactly does dehydration affect our sleep quality? Read on to find out more!
Dehydration and Snoring
We need enough fluids throughout the day to keep our nasal passage, throat, and mouth hydrated to prevent dryness. Dehydration can lead to dry nasal passages and mouths, leading to snoring, even for those of us who are not regular snorers. Snoring may keep you and your partner up at night, greatly affecting the number of hours you are able to log some z’s and contributing to not feeling as rested in the morning.
Dehydration and Cramping
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with a “Charlie Horse” or awful cramping in your legs or toes? This type of cramping could be partially due to dehydration. Just like the rest of our bodies, our muscles are dependent on enough hydration and oxygen to properly do their jobs. Waking up with a cramp could make it more challenging to fall back asleep and decrease the overall amount of sleep that you get in a night.
Dehydration and REM Sleep
You may be familiar with REM sleep, which stands for rapid eye movement. This is our deepest stage of sleep, and it is in this stage that our bodies get to work cleaning up old cells and healing areas that need to be healed in the middle of the night. We go through a few full sleep cycles through the night, entering REM sleep during each of these cycles. One trouble with dehydration is that it can lead to us waking up frequently, preventing us from entering this restorative stage of sleep. Failure to get our full amount of REM sleep means that our body cannot restore and repair overnight, making us feel groggy, sluggish, fatigued, achy, or generally off of our games the following day.
So How Much Water Do I Need?
After hearing about the detriment of dehydration to sleep, you may be wondering just how much water you need during the day. While your true hydration need is based on your weight and activity level, it is recommended that women drink 11 cups of water per day and men drink 15 per day. This includes water found in foods that you may eat as well. It is important to remember that water consumption should take place over the course of the day and that chugging a lot of water before going to bed can actually do more harm to your body and sleep than good. Caffeine and alcohol also affect hydration, and dehydration after drinking is common. Make sure to stay especially hydrated with water if engaging in drinking alcohol, as alcohol also significantly impacts sleep.
In order to prevent snoring, cramping, frequent waking, and dehydration, make sure to consume enough water throughout the day to remain hydratecd and get the best sleep that you are able to get!