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Why Am I So Thirsty At Night?

If you're waking up with an intense urge to drink, there are some possible explanations involving sleep for why you are so thirsty at night.

16 Dec 2021 • 7 MIN Vincent Giampapa MD
young man thirsty at night

Water plays a crucial role in your health and your body needs enough of it to function properly. Without water, you become dehydrated and put your body at risk for serious illness and other complications. Like most people, you probably think of hydration as it relates to diet and exercise. However, a growing body of evidence strongly indicates that hydration and sleep influence each other. One study found that out of approximately 20,000 people in China and the United States, people who had only six hours of sleep had significantly higher rates of dehydration than those who had eight hours of sleep [1].

In this article we’ll discuss:

  • Signs of dehydration at night
  • How sleep apnea leads to dehydration
  • How insensible water loss leads to dehydration
  • How nocturia leads to dehydration
  • How a disruption in your circadian rhythm leads to dehydration
  • How sweating overnight can cause dehydration
  • Tips to stay hydrated and sleep better at night
  • A gel supplement solution for staying hydrated overnight

Just as dehydration can hinder sleep, low-quality sleep or not getting enough sleep can also cause dehydration. Additionally, certain factors can influence this unfortunate cycle. For example, many people drink large amounts of fluids before bed to combat dehydration. Despite their intentions, this can actually lead to dehydration. Those fluids cause more sleep-interrupting bathroom trips, lowering sleep quality and contributing to dehydration. Finding ways to optimize your fluid intake can benefit your health but also reduce sleep interruptions.


Signs of Dehydration At Night

The majority of systems in the body rely on water, so when your body lacks appropriate water levels, other issues tend to occur. You may experience different symptoms of dehydration in the middle of the night, depending on how dehydrated you are and other medical factors. Some of the most common signs of dehydration include:

  • Muscle cramps and spasms – Dehydration can affect more of our bodily systems than most people realize. Plus, dehydration is not just about drinking enough fluids. The body also needs electrolytes like sodium, calcium, and magnesium. An electrolyte imbalance can trigger painful muscle cramps and spasms. Dehydration can also increase your body's temperature. Combine this with the heat that naturally accumulates while sleeping underneath blankets and the heat itself may cause muscles to seize up.
  • Fatigue, headaches and confusion – While dehydrated, some individuals experience low blood pressure due to a drop in blood volume. Because of this, the body's tissues are unable to get the oxygen they need to operate effectively. One of the signature symptoms of this is a headache. Issues like fatigue or confusion often accompany the headache. Some people may feel completely lost while others simply feel a bit less sharp.
  • Dry mouth – When you wake up in the morning, your mouth may feel dry or even sticky. You could also have a sore throat or a feeling of hoarseness, as well as changes in your sense of taste. These issues all originate from a drop in saliva production due to dehydration. In the long term, dry mouth can contribute to a variety of problems with your general health, as well as the health of your teeth and gums.


How Poor Sleep Leads to Dehydration

As previously mentioned, inadequate sleep will increase dehydration levels in your body and make you feel thirsty at night. Some of the top causes you’re sleeping poorly include:

  1. Sleep Apnea
  2. Insensible Water Loss
  3. Nocturia
  4. Disruption in Circadian Rhythm
  5. Sweating

Sleep Apnea

A significant number of people experience dehydration at night because of a potentially serious sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. This disorder's causes can vary, but it generally stems from difficulty breathing while sleeping [2]. Sleep apnea dramatically affects sleep quality and overall health. Dehydration and sleep apnea have many connections, some simple and others complex. Because the body can't get enough air, sleep apnea forces people to sleep with their mouths open, drying out their mouths. The disorder also appears to cause night sweats for one-third of people with the condition, leading to massive fluid losses [3].

A more complex interaction between sleep apnea and dehydration involves the release of vasopressin, a hormone that controls fluid retention. Without vasopressin, our kidneys would continue to trigger the sensation that they are "full," causing frequent urination. Sleep interruptions and sleep apnea inhibit the release of vasopressin, encouraging more trips to the bathroom at night and potentially causing dehydration.

Insensible Water Loss

Your body loses water through insensible water loss, the process in which respiration and the skin result in the loss of fluid [4]. In the course of a full day of breathing, you lose approximately 300–400 milliliters of water [5]. However, the amount may vary depending on whether you breathe primarily through your nose or mouth when you sleep. While you're asleep, you don't ingest water to counteract the insensible water loss.


On another note, excess hydration may also lead to sleeping problems. Urination is the primary cause of water loss, and a sizable portion of this happens when you sleep. Nocturia, or frequent urination at night, interferes with sleep as you have to go to the bathroom many times. This condition is especially problematic for people who find it difficult to fall back asleep after getting up from bed. If you wake up more than twice every night to pee, you may have a condition known as nocturia.

Nocturia is most common in people aged 60 and above because aging is the primary contributing factor. As people age, the production of the antidiuretic hormone decreases, limiting the body's ability to retain fluid. As a result, urine production increases, especially at night. Moreover, the bladder's muscles also weaken with age, making it harder to retain urine.

Circadian Rhythm

Our bodies have many circadian rhythms, but most people use the term to refer to the sleep-wake cycle. Essentially, our brains contain a 24-hour master clock that takes cues from our environments, using them to manage various systems. A properly functioning circadian rhythm promotes consistent and restful sleep but can even fight dehydration.

Throughout the day, the body loses fluid through respiration and the skin, which is called insensible water loss. A significant amount of insensible water loss occurs at night. Since we are incapable of replenishing the lost fluids while sleeping, the body's circadian rhythm releases vasopressin to maintain a balanced hydration level [6].

As mentioned previously, vasopressin is responsible for the retention of fluids. While sleep interruptions decrease vasopressin release, long and uninterrupted sleep leads to more vasopressin. Following the body's natural cues for sleep and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule directly prevents dehydration, thanks to vasopressin.

Sweating Overnight

Interruptions in sleep may interfere with your hydration levels and disrupt the hormonal signals for your body to retain water. Consequently, you may suffer dehydration as a direct result of sleep deprivation. Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate the process and stay hydrated as you sleep.

How to Prevent Dehydration During Sleep

Frequent thirst at night might be an indication that you are not adequately hydrated throughout the day. Here are a few tips to staying hydrated throughout the day and facilitating healthy sleep, so your rest can remain uninterrupted.

  1. Drink water frequently throughout the day. Increase the frequency of your water intake on active days or during hot weather. Keep in mind you can improve water intake through your diet as well. The best book on hydration, called Quench, reveals how you can “eat your water” along with other hydration boosting tips. Eat vegetables and fruits that contain a lot of water. Water-rich fruits include strawberries, watermelon, pineapples, peaches, and cantaloupe, whereas water-rich vegetables include leafy greens, cucumbers, celery and radishes.
  2. Limit caffeine and alcohol intake at night. These beverages may have a diuretic effect, meaning they cause you to urinate frequently. Furthermore, caffeine and alcohol interfere with your sleep cycles and diminish the quality of your sleep.
  3. Reduce liquid intake approximately 1-2 hours before bedtime. This will help mitigate the urge for urination overnight.
  4. Elevate your legs in the evening. Some of the urine in your bladder results from your body reabsorbing water from your legs as you lie down. Elevating your legs a few hours before you go to sleep lets this process occur before bedtime, thus avoiding interruption later at night.
  5. Improve your sleep environment – Keep a comfortable room temperature to avoid overnight sweating that leads to dehydration.
  6. Stay asleep as long as possible. Turn off electronics before bedtime as the blue and green light can encourage sleep deprivation.
  7. Try a natural sleep supplement. Rx sleeping pills can be dangerous and cause dependency. A natural sleep aid can help facilitate healthy, productive sleep.

For more information on how to sleep better, read our blog: 12 Pro Tips for Better Sleep Tonight.

A Natural Sleep Aid That Keeps You Hydrated At Night

Getting a long, restful night of sleep is often far easier said than done. Rather than turning to potentially harmful sleeping pills, consider an alternative that boosts your health while promoting sleep. Healthycell’s REM Sleep supplement helps you fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling completely refreshed.† Plus, it's the only natural sleep-aid that supports all four stages of the human sleep cycle with drug-free, non-habit-forming ingredients. It’s an ingestible gel called MICROGEL™ that offers more absorption versus pills.

REM Sleep soothes both your mind and body using natural vitamins, minerals, and herbal extracts, allowing you to fall asleep without feelings of restlessness.† While you sleep, our supplement releases nutrients and electrolytes to help you lower your body temperature and fight common sleep interruptions like muscle cramping.† When you sleep deeper and longer, you'll naturally release more vasopressin, limiting nightly bathroom visits.

†This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.