I bet you already know that hydration and getting a good night’s sleep are both important for proper brain function, but did you know the two are connected?
It’s true, going to bed even mildly dehydrated can disrupt your sleep. Interestingly, it’s a two-way street as a lack of sleep contributes to dehydration so if you’re only getting 5-6 hours of sleep a night, it can affect your hydration status. Being even slightly dehydrated can affect brain function.
During sleep, the brain carries out several tasks that support memory and learning. The brain also has a natural cleansing process that reduces the risk of dementia by clearing the brain of debris and harmful toxic proteins. Basically, cerebral spinal fluid flows throughout the brain to clean out waste products that brain cells naturally generate. During sleep, the spaces between brain cells become larger allowing fluid to flow more freely which enhances the cleansing process. This waste disposal system is called the glymphatic system. When sleep is disrupted, this important process is disrupted. Sleep deficiency is also linked to an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Many things can interfere with a good night’s sleep, but dehydration is one that is rarely mentioned. What if the remedy for better sleep is as simple as drinking more water during the day? For some people, it could be that simple. While there’s no universal guideline on how much water we should drink each day, a common rule of thumb is to shoot for half your body weight in ounces. As an example, a 180-pound person would be well hydrated with 90 ounces of water per day.
Just remember each person is unique and it is possible to over-hydrate. An easy way to check how well hydrated you are is to look at your urine color. If it’s clear you’re probably over-hydrated. Pale yellow means well hydrated, dark yellow means drink more water. Very dark urine, especially if it’s brown, could indicate a health issue related to your liver – contact your doctor.
If you’re one of the millions of people who have trouble sleeping try drinking more water this week and see if it helps – just make sure you drink the majority of it before 6pm, otherwise your sleep could be disrupted for another reason : ).