Good quality sleep is essential to our health and our mood. We all know what a bad night of sleep feels like – your head hurts, you’re irritable, and you can’t focus.
Anti snoring devices are a partial solution to better sleep if you are a snorer, but other factors to improve sleep should be considered.
So, what causes bad sleep? There are so many different things that could be impacting the quality of your sleep, but dehydration is thought to be one of the biggest contributing factors. Considering that an estimated 75% of adults in the U.S. suffer chronic dehydration – there must be a lot of sleepy people out there!
Being dehydrated keeps you awake at night, and makes you feel sluggish throughout the day. Most of us will try and remedy this with multiple coffees or other caffeinated and sugary drinks. This further meddles with your ability to sleep at night, and yes – caffeine dehydrates you even further! Getting stuck in this cycle is very detrimental to your sleep cycle overall, and can result in serious health and wellbeing issues.
How dehydration interrupts your sleep
Dehydration restricts the amount of melatonin your body can produce by reducing the number of essential amino acids. Melatonin is known as the sleep hormone and is vital for a healthy sleep cycle. Low melatonin interrupts your asleep and awake schedule – known as your circadian rhythm.
Your natural circadian rhythm is what makes you feel sleepy at night and what makes you wake up when the sun is out. Low melatonin can impact how quickly you fall asleep and can make it harder for you to stay asleep.
Dehydration causes physical symptoms that can keep you awake at night. It causes your mouth to dry out and your skin to become dry and itchy. It might also be causing you to experience headaches or migraines and muscle cramps at the end of the day. These symptoms leave you with a general sense of discomfort and unwellness and can prevent you from falling asleep.
Dehydration can also cause snoring. It does this by drying out the nose and throat, and can also cause thickening in the mucus lining which interrupts your breathing. This often makes people wake themselves up at night by coughing or struggling to breathe. What you eat and drink can improve your nose and throat health and reduce snoring, helping you to get more sleep.
Health impacts of dehydration and lack of sleep
Sleep deprivation has some mild impacts on our bodies and some very serious ones. We’ve all heard that we should be getting 7-9 hours sleep a night, but what happens to us if we don’t? The answer is kind of scary! We need sleep to recover and restore. Not getting enough can reduce your mental capabilities, compromise your physical health, is linked to having an inefficient immune response and can make you gain weight.
You might notice some of the more obvious symptoms first. You might experience:
- Problems with your memory, both short and long-term.
- Not being able to think clearly or concentrate properly.
- Moodiness and irritability.
- Low sex drive.
- Issues with coordination and balance.
While these symptoms might seem annoying, they can have some serious long-term impacts on your health. If you let your dehydration and sleep deprivation go untreated and it becomes chronic, your risk for more dangerous health impacts increases. This includes:
- A weakened immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to infections, viruses, and diseases.
- High blood pressure, cardiovascular issues and increased risk of heart disease.
- Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
- Increased risk of diabetes, as lack of sleep, affects your body’s ability to release insulin.
- Increased risk of injury and accidents.
- Increased risk of dementia.
How to keep hydrated for quality sleep
Chugging down a liter of water before bed is not the solution! You’ll be up and down to the bathroom all night if you do that, which interrupts your sleep even more. You need to develop a habit of regular water consumption every day to maintain healthy hydration levels.
For men, the recommendation is 13 glasses a day. For women, it is 9 glasses. This is including the water you get from eating – so you don’t have to consume 13 full glasses a day!
If you exercise, drink extra water. Exercising dehydrates you, and you must drink sufficient water before and after each workout. Also, if you are drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks, you need to be drinking a glass or two of water afterward to counter the caffeine. You also get dehydrated as you sleep, so it is important to have a big drink of water when you wake up every morning, to set you up for the day.
If you are experiencing dry lips and mouth, you are already dehydrated. The aim is to prevent those symptoms from starting and to keep your body’s hydration level up at all times.
If your body is well hydrated, it is better prepared for quality sleep. Your overall health and quality of life will also improve as your sleep cycle becomes healthier.