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Dehydration and Insomnia

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 26 Mar 2019 | comments*Discuss
Dehydration Insomnia Fluid Water Thirsty

Although it may manifest as a complex problem, insomnia often has quite simple causes. One of these can be dehydration. Most people in Britain don't drink as much fluid as they need for optimum health. Although, over time, they may inadvertently train themselves not to feel thirsty, the suppressed desire to drink can result in restlessness and a host of minor problems that make sleep difficulties worse.

Symptoms of Dehydration

Dehydration can affect sleep in a variety of ways. Chronic dehydration can disrupt the body's natural rhythms so that you don't feel tired when you should, and it can also create the kind of fatigue that triggers exhaustion yet leaves you unable to sleep. This is because your body is unable to flush out toxins that build up in your blood.

Dehydration also commonly results in skin, eye and mouth problems. When these bodily surfaces stop receiving adequate lubrication, you'll often feel sore or itchy and you'll be more vulnerable to minor infections, all factors that can lead to sleep trouble. As membranes around the brain become too dry, you may also experience headaches.

Finally, dehydration can lead to melatonin deficiency, another leading cause of insomnia.

An easy way to tell if you might be dehydrated is to examine the colour of your urine. If it is very pale yellow or colourless, you are probably alright. If it is very dark in colour (throughout the day), you may need to consume significantly more fluid.

How to Drink what you Need

If you're dehydrated, you should drink more, right? That's a useful rule of thumb, but the situation is often more complicated.

Most insomniacs know that alcohol and caffeine are bad for them and can make them feel worse. Among other things, both these drugs cause the body to expel water. The problem is that alcoholic and caffeinated drinks also represent the bulk of most people's daily fluid consumption. Just ceasing to drink as many of them will have limited benefits unless they are replaced by something else.

Drinking more water is the simplest cure for dehydration - ideally, the average person should consume about two litres (three and a half pints) per day. If you suddenly increase your water intake, though, you may find that you suffer other heath problems as essential vitamins and minerals are flushed out of your system.

For this reason, increasing your water intake should be combined with increasing your intake of nutrients. A good way to do this is to drink fruit juice. This will have the added benefit of making you feel more alert when you are flagging because of your sleep problems. Try to spread your fluid intake out across the day, and if you suffer from dizziness, add a small pinch of sea salt to your food - this will help to ensure a healthy electrolyte balance.

If you are exercising regularly, your water intake should increase accordingly. Try to drink immediately after you finish exercising and stop only when you are no longer thirsty.

Water and the Sleep Cycle

Staying properly hydrated through regular consumption of water or fruit juice can also help to regulate your sleep cycle. Avoid fizzy drinks with lots of sugar, which can boost your energy levels only to drop them later. Try to get into a healthy pattern.

Even if you feel thirsty, drinking right before you go to bed can cause sleep problems when you wake up needing to empty your bladder. If you drink half a pint to a pint of water about an hour before you're ready for bed, most of it should pass through you before you go to sleep, and your body will have what it needs to run natural processes as you sleep. Drinking immediately after getting up in the morning will enable it to learn that more supplies will arrive when needed.

Supporting and training your body in this way can help you to manage dehydration-related insomnia and enjoy much more satisfying sleep.

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This is interesting! I have found that if I do not drink enough water , at least 1,5 liters during the day, I cannot go to sleep. I have been searching the web for research about this, but it is hard to find! There are a lot of articles about hydration playing a role when it comes to sleep, but haven’t found out what sources they are basing this on.. Do you know??
Susy - 26-Mar-19 @ 10:15 PM
Hello, I read a recent email from Dr Carolyn Dean who is involved with marketing products for Magnesium deficiencies. She does have excellent credentials. She was talking about Sea Salt on this particular email. She said sea salt includes 78 minerals not found in regular salt due to processing and that regular salt can thus cause an imbalance in the body that can lead to dehydrated cells. I typically get my salt through an average American diet - more or less - and don't add any extra. I've heard of sea salt in passing. She stated Chlorinating, Fluoridating, and Filtering can also deplete water of minerals including salt. It seemed interesting. Anyway, though a bit skeptical it seems like it may make sense about electrolytes since they affect the osmotic balance of water in the body that might lead possibly to their dehydration. I also filter my faucet water with an aquasana filter that takes out harmful toxins, etc but also probably further filters any remaining minerals including any leftover salt missed by water processing. She recommends 1/4 tsp to a liter and I have started to try it. I take many supplements but do so with care and education. It may be a coincidence but last night I couldn't get to sleep after I took a pinch of sea salt. I also did take 350 mg of coral calcium - also loaded with natural minerals - 71 - trace amount- compared to other calcium. I had run out of calcium and bought the coral calcium with the mineral thing fresh in my mind since reading the email. Anyway, I lay there wide awake for hours. Maybe it was a rebound affect of more hydrated cells - or my imagination or something else - but I honestly felt wide awake and finally got to sleep around 5 am and luckily I could sleep until 930 am this morning. I may try some melatonin tonight or avoid taking the sea salt including the coral calcium late at night. It may indeed have had something to do with the added minerals.I am glad to say today that - despite having a bit of a nightmare when i did sleep - not sure if its related - and the short amount of sleep, I do feel invigorated at least more than on a typical day after a such a short amount of sleep. The nightmare may be a coincidence though it could be some sort of rebound effect. I do work in health care and I know proper balance of electrolytes is essential to good health. I am going to keep seeing what happens with careful adjustments to timing and dose. I take other supplements so that also has to be considered. There's just so much to factor in these days like food, water, air, radiation, stress, etc. etc. I always believe people should try to help themselves but become educated and always use critical thinking.
steve jaubert - 2-Nov-18 @ 5:01 PM
Your site is the first notice I have had of the connection between insomnia and dehydration. Now in my 80s, I have had poor sleep all my life, even from childhood. Sleep apnea came along in my 40s and insomnia in my 60s. Quite by accident I learned dehydration could cause insomnia. For some time I had been charting urine and when I had two episodes of insomnia fairly close together, I looked back to my medical notes to see if there was anything common with those two nights. My urine was very low, something like 8-9 ounces on the days leading to the nights with insomnia, and orange -yellow in color with strong odor. I realized that I did not drink sufficient fluid on those days and decided to make certain that I corrected that in the future. In the three years since I have had only 1 instance of insomnia. And in that oneinstance I did not have sufficient intake of fluids and had a classic case of insomnia. I am pleased to learn that others have learned the association of dehydration and insomnia. Does anyone know of studies be conducted on this?
Shorty - 3-Apr-18 @ 12:33 AM
Hello insominaics I have sleeplessness issue for 4 5 years. I could sleep after 2 3 hours after laying. But one month ago i have colon infection therefore sleeplessness is were going tou worse. Now i cant sleep without sleeping pill and when i sleep i feel burden on my head and also feel to much dryness. When i wake up i have dark urin but later drinking enough water it will go colourless but whole day i feel dryness in head even taking enough water. I have frequancy of urin also from 4 5 years.
Imran - 30-Mar-18 @ 7:37 PM
Causality here can easily trick our minds. An inverse association between thirst and insomnia is known. This does not necessarily mean that dehydration causes insomnia, though. It could often be quite the opposite. Do not forget that insomnia might have very different causes. If the cause is cardiovascular, then drinking more might actually be the main cause for insomnia, especially if done before going to bed. The resulting dehydration would then simply be the physiological response of our body to the cardiovascular issue. In these cases, ignoring the "suppressed desire to drink" could be the silliest thing one could do. Sometimes what appears obvious might actually be highly deceiving. Always scratch beneath the surface.
Ruggero - 28-Oct-17 @ 4:49 PM
I suffer from pulmonary aspiration and can only handle about a cup of liquids per day. I have been chronically dehydrated since March, but I do not have difficulty falling asleep. I do take sleeping pills, but I have been taking them for about a year now for unrelated issues. I can still fall asleep easily and sleep throughout the night but do suffer from nightmares as a side effect of not taking my pill. I have other health problems so could this be why I get to sleep without much problem at night? I have difficulty eating too as I have gastric problems.
Lizzy Lu - 28-Jul-17 @ 6:54 AM
Being dehydrated makes me feel exhausted so I usually drink water when I'm at that point. I drink 40-60 oz a day and have had a hard time sleeping more than an hour at a clip. I can fall back to sleep quickly but don't get solid uninterrupted sleep. I've been going to an insomnia specialist and things were getting better. I had a couple nights that I slept 7 hours, 3 solid hours. I'm going to try the minimum 3 liters a day and see if it helps.
Joiseyg - 10-Sep-16 @ 2:48 AM
I have been without much water for 3 days now. And now I can't sleep very well. I am able to fall asleep but wake up dozens of times a night. So, yeah, I believe sleep is affected by dehydration.
sucker - 12-Jun-16 @ 10:38 AM
i have suffered insomnia for years , only a few days drinkig like 3lts water and gatorade and sleep like a baby.
dave - 20-May-15 @ 4:24 AM
@cuck - have you paid a visit to your GP. I suggest you do that in the first instance, especially if you are dehydrated. Also, I'm afraid we can't give medical advice online. I hope this helps.
Insomniacs - 9-Feb-15 @ 2:16 PM
I have been having trouble falling asleep at night, I lay there for HOURS unable to simply fall asleep. I have tried numerous sleep aids to no avail and am so extremely frustrated about the situation that it is now really having negative effects on my day to day life. My job is unbelievably physical so I am so exhausted at night though it seems my mind wont shut off. I litterally sweat a gallon a day and drink maybe one or two bottles of water. I am now really wondering if dehydration could be my problem....
cuck - 7-Feb-15 @ 5:43 AM
I have been experiencing distrubed sleep due to what feels like many tiny electrical explosions in the calves of my legs at night. I also found myself waking up around 3:00 am unable to return to sleep. It came to me that I was not drinking enough water before I went to bed so I started drinking an 8 ounce glass before turning in and for the last 3 nights I have slept a full 7 hours with only needing to get up once to go to the bathroom but being able to return immediately back to sleep. It probably has not been tested long enough to know for sure if this is the cause of my sleeplessness. Can dehydration cause these symptoms? I have always been able to sleep soundly at night but this has been bothering me for about 3 or 4 months.
Nellie - 19-Jun-14 @ 10:16 AM
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