Updated: Mar 22
Staying well-hydrated is far more crucial to overall health and well-being than many people realize. Furthermore, many fail to join the dots up regarding the relationship between hydration and the quality of sleep they experience. Being dehydrated, even minimally, can interfere with sleep quality and lead to a host of uncomfortable symptoms that can impact our ability to fall and stay asleep.
Hydration is essential for optimal health and supports all of the body's functions, including sleep. And as noted by the sustainable water company, JUST Water, the recommended daily intake is a minimum of 8 cups of water for optimal health and improved sleep quality.
However, bear in mind that individual hydration needs vary based on factors such as age, weight, and general activity levels; it's important to determine the right amount for your unique needs.
When you gotta go, you gotta go
When our body is dehydrated, it can cause a decreased production of a hormone called vasopressin, which helps the body to regulate its balance of water. With a reduction in the body's ability to retain water, an increase in urine output is inevitable and can be the cause of waking frequently in the night to use the bathroom. It seems counterintuitive that being dehydrated could cause you to pee more, and decreased urination can also be a sure sign of dehydration, but so too can increased frequency.
Dehydration-related symptoms that can impact sleep
Dehydration can lead to a range of annoying symptoms that can impact your sleep quality, such as a dry mouth and throat, headaches, and muscle cramps. Dehydration can also lead to an increase in cortisol, the hormone notorious for creating heightened feelings of stress. When cortisol levels increase, feelings of anxiety and restlessness ensue, typically making it much harder to fall and stay asleep.
In addition to these troublesome symptoms, dehydration can also impact the body's ability to regulate its internal temperature properly. When our body is in a state of dehydration, it can have a considerably harder time cooling itself down, making us feel even more uncomfortable and, consequently, less likely to nod off.
Drinking enough water throughout the day also plays a big role in supporting healthy, efficient brain function. The better our brains are functioning, the less stress we inevitably feel, and given that stress is a direct cause of poor sleep, we obviously want to support our brain in firing on all cylinders with relative ease - and it can't do that if it's dehydrated.
In addition to drinking an adequate amount of water each day, it's also a great idea to consciously incorporate a variety of water-rich foods into your diet, such as watermelon, cucumber, and celery. Plain water alternatives such as herbal teas and coconut water can also make a refreshing change and help you to drink more.
Extra tips for getting good quality Z's
In addition to ensuring you are well-hydrated, there are a number of other steps you can take to improve your odds of getting a good quantity of quantity sleep.
Research clearly demonstrates that music can have a profoundly positive impact on sleep quality due to its powerful ability to promote relaxation, reduce cortisol and, therefore, stress itself.
There are many different types of music that can be used as a sleep aid, with examples including classical, meditative, and tracks that feature ambient and nature-based sounds, such as gentle wind rustling through trees or light rainfall. For some people, white noise, such as the sound of a fan running in the background, can help improve sleep, and you can buy white noise machines to perfect the background sound that works best for you.
Binaural beats are a particularly popular type of music for promoting relaxation and sleep. These distinctive beats are created by playing two different frequencies in each ear, helping to synchronize brain waves and bring about a state of deeper relaxation. Many apps and websites offer binaural beats and other music that is specifically designed for sleep, making it super easy to incorporate it into your bedtime routine. As the body of evidence continues to grow, music for insomnia is fast becoming big business.
Establish a consistent sleep schedule
Making sure you go to bed and wake up at as close to the same time every day as possible can help to regulate your body's internal clock and line up more naturally for a good night's sleep.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine
Going to bed straight off the back of staring at a bright screen for hours will start causing havoc to your sleep quality sooner or later. Instead, create a relaxing routine before bed each night, such as by taking a nice warm bath, or reading a book - calming activities that help to prepare your body for sleep.
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
It's unfortunate, but there's just no getting around it - caffeine and alcohol can interfere with your sleep quality. Making a conscious decision to consume them in moderation, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime, can make a surprising difference.
Create a comfortable sleep environment
Creating an environment that is conducive to sleep is more important than many realize. An unsupportive mattress, a lumpy pillow, uncomfortable bedding, and the wrong room temperature can have a significant effect on your ability to sleep well. Take the time to make sure that you create an inviting environment that supports a comfortable, restful night.
By drinking up (water, that is), increasing your water-rich foods, and incorporating other healthy habits into your routine, you could be well on your way to enjoying a better night's sleep in no time. If, however, you still struggle after implementing these changes, consult your doctor to see if there are any other underlying causes.