Is there a link between sleep and hydration?
Good hydration is a key element of health as our bodies are largely made up of water. So, it should come as no surprise that dehydration negatively affects many of the body’s systems and functions, including cognition, mood and physical performance. Long term or chronic dehydration can lead to more serious problems, such as higher risk of urinary tract infections and kidney stones.
Now, according to a Penn State study, adults who sleep just six hours per night — as opposed to eight — may have a higher chance of being dehydrated. Indeed, the findings suggest that those who don’t feel well after a night of poor sleep may want to consider dehydration as a cause and drink more water.
The impact of poor hydration on sleep
Anyone who has ever had too much alcohol will appreciate that an evening of celebration will most likely be followed by a night of dehydration and disturbed sleep. However, the fascinating aspect of this new study is that it examines not just the impact of what may be poor hydration before falling asleep, but how the resulting shortened sleep cycle makes this worse.
The researchers looked at how sleep affected hydration status and risk of dehydration in more than 20,000 adults in the USA and China. In both populations, adults who reported sleeping six hours had significantly more concentrated urine and 16-59 percent higher odds of being inadequately hydrated compared to adults who slept eight hours on a regular basis at night.
The cause was then linked to the way the body’s hormonal system regulates hydration.
The impact of poor sleep on hydration
A hormone called vasopressin is released to help regulate the body’s hydration status. It is released throughout the day, as well as during sleeping hours; this is what the researchers focused on.
What they found is that vasopressin is released both more quickly and later in the sleep cycle.
So, ironically, if we are wake up earlier because we are already dehydrated, we are missing the key window in which more of the hormone is released, causing even more disruption the body’s hydration.
Lead author Asher Rosinger, assistant professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State recommended a simple remedy; “If you are only getting six hours of sleep a night, it can affect your hydration status. This study suggests that if you’re not getting enough sleep, and you feel bad or tired the next day, drink extra water.”
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