If you’re anything like me, this scenario might sound familiar. You know how much water you should drink in a day, and you know how important hydration is for your health.
But sometimes, your day just gets away from you. So you try to make up for lost time by drinking a glass of water before bed, and then you keep another next to you on your nightstand.
And then, you guessed it, you wake up at least once in the middle of the night to pee. Then you drink more water, get back in bed, and quite possibly start that cycle over again.
Shockingly, experts have weighed in to say that’s not the healthiest way to go about things.
As important as hydration is, don’t ignore how much your sleep patterns affect your health. And sleep patterns are not all created equal.
“In my opinion, it’s not the total hours you’re in bed. It’s how much deep sleep and how much REM sleep you’re getting,” board-certified family medicine physician Robert Roundtree, M.D. said on the Mind Body Green podcast.
Lack of quality (read: uninterrupted) sleep can actually negatively affect your immune system–something we all should be concerned with right now.
“While our body is resting, the immune system cells can also focus all efforts and energy on a strong attack against viruses and bacteria,” according to Immunologist, Heather Monday, MD.
Poor sleep patterns can also impact your gut health, which in turn plays a role in your immune health. But poor gut health is also tied to brain function and digestion.
And speaking of digestion, poor sleep habits can even lead to weight gain. In fact, the Sleep Research Society reported that both people who slept too little (5-6 hours) and too much (9-10 hours) were prone to increase weight.
So what’s a dehydrated girl to do? For one, make a concerted effort to get adequate hydration throughout the day, not right before bed. There are a few apps that can help you track this.
I’m a big fan of Plant Nanny, as I tend to anthropomorphize everything around me. This app lets you set your own water intake goals, and then gives you an adorable little animated plant seedling to take care of by watering it (which you do each time you drink a glass of water).
You can name the little guys and watch them grow, which is very satisfying. If you’re not drinking enough, however, they’ll start to wilt and can actually die. Which is pretty devastating because they’ve got faces and everything.
(Maybe you’re not someone who needs emotional blackmail to make you hydrate, but hey, it works wonders for some of us.)
According to experts, you should refrain from drinking any liquids around three to four hours before you get into bed. And if you’ve properly hydrated throughout the day, that shouldn’t be difficult.
Of course, if your throat is dry or you feel thirsty, don’t deny yourself. Just don’t go overboard, and try to go to the bathroom right afterward so you don’t get up in the middle of the night.
And if you still need that glass of water on your nightstand, save it for the morning.