Ever wake up feeling dehydrated? It’s perfectly normal to wake up feeling thirsty and slightly dehydrated. After all, even though you’re fast asleep, your body is still working and performing simple tasks like breathing and regulating body temperature, all without replenishing fluids. So naturally, it needs a little hydration after a long night’s work.
However, if you can’t reach for a glass of water fast enough the second you wake up, or you’re even waking up in the middle night to quench your thirst, there may be things you’re doing during your waking hours that are contributing to severe morning dehydration.
Fortunately, you can reduce the risk of excessive morning dehydration by identifying these potential culprits of dehydration that might be part of your evening routine. We spoke to Kaylee Jacks, a sports dietitian at Texas Health Sports Medicine, to get her insight on the most common reasons for morning dehydration and how to combat them.
The Importance of Hydrating
Water accounts for about 60% of the average adult human body weight and is essential for numerous bodily functions, including temperature regulation, cellular function, and waste removal.
A deficiency in hydration can often worsen symptoms such as fatigue, a throbbing headache, dry mouth, or parched skin, making your morning less than refreshing. More pronounced dehydration not only results in more severe symptoms but also requires more time and a greater volume of fluids to restore proper hydration. And there's nothing worse than feeling dehydrated, sluggish, and low on energy throughout the entire day.
“I always recommend people hydrate with a minimum of 8 ounces of water within the first 30 minutes of waking up. Assuming you had around 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep, you also have not hydrated in 7+ hours,” Jacks explains. “This also helps kickstart the metabolism, digest breakfast and helps meet daily hydration needs. But there are definitely things you could be doing during the day that influence your hydration when waking up the next morning.”
1. Not Drinking Enough Water Throughout the Day
Although you may wish to avoid guzzling water just before bedtime to prevent frequent trips to the bathroom, and the dent in your sleep quality, it's important to ensure that you maintain good hydration levels during the early evening and throughout the day.
“If you go to bed already dehydrated, you’re going to wake up even more dehydrated. Not staying hydrated on a regular basis throughout the day with fluids and electrolytes can lead to chronic dehydration,” Jacks says. “Staying hydrated daily with adequate fluid AND electrolytes is a great step to reduce morning hydration.”
If you wake up feeling thirsty, have a dry mouth, and potentially a sore or dry throat when you wake up, and your pee is dark yellow or orange in the morning, that’s a good indicator that your hydration levels are way too low.
2. Sleeping for Too Long
In that same vein, sleeping for too long can impact your hydration levels because the longer you sleep, the longer you go without replenishing your body's fluid stores.
Jacks suggests not going over the recommended seven to nine hours per night, which is optimal. You’ll still get a restorative night’s sleep without feeling drowsy and thirsty in the morning.
3. The Room is a Bit Too Toasty
Some people can’t sleep without the fan and air conditioner going full blast, while others love cozying up with lots of blankets and layers. If you’re in the latter group, sleeping in an environment that is just a tad bit too toasty could be contributing to your dehydration in the morning.
Excessive warmth in your surroundings or too much heat from blankets can lead to dehydration, which is why we often wake up feeling exceptionally sweaty and thirsty in the summertime.
“Sleeping in a room with dry or hot air can cause dehydration because dry climates can sop up moisture in the nasal and mouth,” Jacks explains. “Hot environments that cause you to sweat increase your fluid and electrolyte output causing you to wake up more dehydrated than if you were sleeping in a cooler environment. Dehumidifiers can help reduce humidity in rooms and lowering the thermostat can also help.”
For better sleep quality and decreased risk of dehydration, set the thermostat within a range of 60° F and 67° F, as this is what is recommended by the Sleep Foundation. However, if that’s just too cold for you, or you’re a hot sleeper regardless, try silk or microfiber sheets, which are more cooling materials, running a fan in your room or even cracking open a window during the cooler months.
4. Drinking Coffee or Alcohol in the Evening
If you enjoy a little nightcap from time to time, or even enjoy an energy drink before that post-work workout, you may not be doing yourself any favors in both the sleep and hydration departments.
Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, meaning they make your body release water. As we discussed earlier, when you’re sleeping, you aren’t replenishing your body with water, only compounding the issue if you go to bed already depleted.
“Alcohol also prevents your body from releasing antidiuretic hormone, which helps regulate the amount of water in your body,” Jacks says. “Furthermore, too much alcohol can lead to a hangover making you more thirsty in the morning.”
To combat this, try to cut off caffeine intake during the early afternoon and alternate alcoholic beverages with a glass of water. Avoid consuming more than the USDA's recommended one drink per day when possible. This will not only help to reduce the amount you’re drinking overall but also keep your body's hydration levels in check.
As an added note to think about, your body needs at least a full glass of water for every 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or one-and-a-half ounces of spirits you consume in order to rehydrate while drinking.
5. Heightened Stress and Anxiety
Believe it or not, stress and anxiety can contribute to dehydration. There is a cycle that exists between dehydration and stress where each can exacerbate the other, creating a continuous loop.
“Stress and anxiety are typically associated with increased heart rate and heavier breathing, both of which can contribute to fluid loss via drying up mouth moisture and through sweat,” Jacks says. “Furthermore, when stressed, you are less inclined to prioritize fluid intake and overall hydration.”
One effective solution is to reduce stress levels before bedtime. Incorporating relaxation techniques into your evening routine, such as yoga, meditation, or journaling, while avoiding late-night scrolling on your device, can be helpful.
Another approach to break this cycle is to focus on consuming a sufficient amount of water throughout the day to maintain proper hydration and counteract stress. Jacks suggests aiming for approximately half your body weight in ounces of water.