A close-up image of a person in comfy clothes holding a glass of water, drinking water before bed.

© itla / Stocksy United

How Drinking Water Before Bed Affects Your Sleep

Drinking enough H2O is crucial, but should hydration habits shift before bedtime?

By Kipp Jarecke-ChengNovember 2, 2023


Oh, the glories of water. Whether it’s consumed after a rigorous workout or gulped down on a hot summer day, few beverages can quench a thirst—and benefit your body—like a tall, ice-cold glass of water. But what about drinking water before bed, specifically? Before nodding off, should your hydration habits stay the same, or should you switch them up? 

We spoke with the experts to get to the bottom of things. Below, find everything you need to know about drinking water before bed.

The Importance of Staying Hydrated

Before diving into whether or not you should drink water before bed, it’s helpful to remember just how important hydration is around the clock. 

As everyone knows, proper hydration is a critical component of good health. But did you know that water accounts for about 60 percent of an adult’s body, and people who suffer from severe dehydration are at greater risk of health issues like heatstroke, kidney stones, and shock? Even minor dehydration can affect physical and mental performance, according to one small trial.

While the ideal water intake can vary based on age, gender, climate, fitness levels, and body size, the National Academy of Medicine generally recommends adult women drink 2.7 liters (or 91 ounces) a day, while adult men consume 3.7 liters (or 125 ounces) to maintain proper hydration.

Should You Drink Water Before Bed?

“Drinking water and staying hydrated is always healthy, no matter what time of day,” says Alissa Palladino, RDN, an Atlanta-based registered dietician nutritionist and certified personal trainer. That said, when it comes to drinking water before bed, you don’t want to overdo it—which is why many experts recommend avoiding a ton of H2O a couple hours before hitting the hay.

For some people, it’s common to drink a glass of water right before turning in for the night to help with sleep. Drinking water can help to cool core body temperature, which in turn helps to promote better, more restful sleep. But for others, drinking too many fluids—including water —right before bedtime can lead to multiple unwanted trips to the bathroom throughout the night, disrupting your sleep, explains Andrew Foderaro, MD, a pulmonologist and member of the Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep division at Rhode Island and Miriam Hospitals. Palladino agrees, noting that “this is especially true if you have trouble falling back asleep after you wake up during the night, since sleep is so essential to exercise recovery, and overall health.” 

Middle-of-the-night bathroom trips caused by drinking water before bed shouldn’t be a widespread concern, though. “For most healthy people, drinking water at bedtime isn’t generally a problem,” Dr. Foderaro says. “The body is incredibly robust, and if the person is healthy, their ability to process water into urine while asleep should be easily regulated.”

That said, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to whether or not you should drink water before bedtime, Dr. Foderaro says. “People often want an absolute answer that applies to everyone, but that’s not the case,” he adds. Contributing factors may include kidney disease, heart disease, or other health conditions that impact the body’s ability to process fluids during sleep, so talk to your doctor if you have any questions. 

Ultimately, it comes down to the amount of water you drink before bed, plus your body’s unique needs and preferences—but for many of us, sipping on water before hitting the hay is totally fine. 

Benefits of Drinking Water Before Bed

Many people will have a glass of water on their nightstands, which they drink before bed, in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning. It’s normal to feel thirsty right before going to sleep, and not to mention, some over-the-counter and prescription medications (such as antihistamines) can cause dry mouth and thirst, which can flare up at bedtime.

“Drinking water keeps the body functioning well by helping to balance your temperature and promote good metabolism,” says Dr. Foderaro.

In addition to quenching thirst, drinking water before bedtime can provide a number of additional health and sleep benefits:

  • Hydration helps with sleep stages: Some research suggests that proper hydration can help you sleep more efficiently. Plus, when you get better, deeper sleep, your body can recover better from a workout and feel more prepared for the next one.

  • Water may have a calming effect: In addition to helping regulate body temperature, sipping water can have a calming effect, promoting a sense of relaxation that can ease the transition from wakefulness to sleep.

  • A well-hydrated nose and mouth can reduce snoring: Dehydration can lead to a sticky palate and dry nasal passages, increasing the chances of snoring. Keeping hydrated may help keep those nighttime snorts and rumblings at bay.

That’s not all: Dr. Foderaro adds that proper hydration also keeps joints and tissues lubricated, helps with the digestion process, and replenishes fluids lost through elimination and respiration.

A man holding a glass of water as he drinks water before bed.

© Tanya Yatsenko / Stocksy United

Possible Disadvantages of Drinking Water Before Sleep

As we touched on earlier, “for some people, drinking too much water too close to bedtime can lead to needing to wake up multiple times throughout the night to use the bathroom,” Palladino says.

The disadvantages of drinking water before bedtime can include:

  • Interrupted sleep: Downing a large glass of water right before bed can increase the likelihood of waking up for bathroom breaks, known as nocturia, which can interrupt your sleep cycle.

  • Potential reflux concerns: While staying hydrated can help alleviate acid reflux symptoms, drinking lots of liquids before bedtime, including water, may make your stomach fuller and, thus, might heighten symptoms when you lie down. 

  • Discomfort and bloat: Drinking too much water all at once before bedtime can lead to discomfort. (Not the ideal feeling to send you into dreamland!)

“Just as adequate sleep is essential for exercise recovery and overall health, anything that disrupts sleep could be a cause for concern,” Palladino explains. “People may want to shift more of their water intake earlier in the day if drinking too close to bedtime regularly causes them to wake up multiple times, particularly if they have trouble falling back asleep.”

Tips for Drinking Water Before Bed

If you’re the kind of sleeper who needs or enjoys a bit of H2O before bed, experts offer a few additional tips:

  • Moderation is key: Sip, don’t chug your drink. Consuming a moderate amount of water in the evening ensures hydration without overloading your bladder. “You probably don’t want to guzzle down a gallon of water right before going to sleep,” Dr. Foderaro says.

  • Time your sips: Aim to finish your major hydration session two hours before bedtime. This allows your body time to process and reduces the need for frequent bathroom trips during the night.

  • Choose wisely: Opt for hydrating snacks, such as water-rich fruits or veggies (think things like cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, or celery), to quench your thirst without the excess liquid volume.

  • Consider a pre-bedtime bathroom trip: If you need to go to the bathroom close to bedtime, make sure you do so before lights out (rather than holding it as you’re nodding off) to ensure you capture as many uninterrupted Zzzs as possible.

  • Listen to your body: Everyone’s hydration needs are different. Pay attention to your body’s signals and adjust your water intake accordingly.

How to Stay Hydrated Overnight

Sleep itself can be a dehydrating event. Depending on the season, room temperature, and overall sleep environment, sleepers can experience water loss just through breathing and sweating. Ensuring proper hydration overnight requires prior planning during the day, as well as understanding the necessary balance of water and compounds like salt in your body.

“If you do a lot of exercise, your amount of water intake is going to be higher,” Dr. Foderaro says. “But it’s important to discuss the idea of water alone versus water plus salt, because sweat isn’t just water.”

Without getting the electrolytes your body needs, water won’t get properly absorbed and can inadvertently end up flushing out nutrients your body needs, leaving you feeling sluggish and foggy. Proper hydration during the day, which includes drinking an adequate amount of water, as well as maintaining a healthy diet that includes water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables, can ensure your hydration levels are optimal by bedtime.

The Takeaway

Proper hydration and good sleep are interconnected. Distributing water intake evenly throughout the day is the best way to avoid nighttime hydration panic. While we receive additional fluids and water from our meals (particularly through fruits and vegetables), enjoying a glass of water can aid in digestion and give your body time to process and eliminate excess fluids before bedtime.

Factors such as age, gender, body mass, medications, and overall health can impact how much and when to consume water, and it’s not simply water that’s important, it’s the combination of water and compounds like electrolytes that are key to proper absorption of fluids.

In the end, it’s important to monitor yourself. “Listen to what your body tells you and drink when you feel thirsty or when you notice that your urine is overly concentrated,” says Dr. Foderaro. “The old adage is true: Sometimes moderation is the healthiest thing we can do in life.”

This content is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute individualized advice. It is not intended to replace professional medical evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician for questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. If you are having a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.


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