Healthy adults should be aiming for at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night, as per the guidelines set by experts. Now, it appears shorter sleep, even down to six hours a night, could increase your risk of dehydration.
In a new study from Pennsylvania State University, researchers examined health data on more than 20,000 American and Chinese young adults. The results were published in the journal Sleep on Nov. 5.
Compared to those who slept for at least 8 hours per night, those who slept for 6 hours were 16 to 59 percent more likely to suffer from dehydration. While it may not seem like a significant problem, recent studies have shown even mild dehydration can impair mood and thinking ability.
Over a period of time, dehydration can have other harmful effects on the body such as an increased risk of heat injury, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and kidney failure.
“If you are only getting six hours of sleep a night, it can affect your hydration status,” said lead author Asher Rosinger, assistant professor of biobehavioral health and anthropology at Penn State. “This study suggests that if you’re not getting enough sleep, and you feel bad or tired the next day, drink extra water.”
If you are wondering about the connection between your sleep hours and how hydrated you are, the answer has a lot to do with your hormonal system. Vasopressin, the study noted, was a hormone which played an important role in helping your body retain water.
“Vasopressin is released both more quickly and later on in the sleep cycle,” Rosinger explained. “So, if you’re waking up earlier, you might miss that window in which more of the hormone is released, causing a disruption in the body’s hydration.”
While most healthy adults can follow the signal of thirst, you may also check the color of your urine to know whether you are hydrated enough. Dark-colored urine is usually a sign that you need more fluids.
And aside from poor sleep, dehydration risk also increases if a person is performing demanding physical activities, working in hot weather, or experiencing vomiting and diarrhea. In such cases, certified holistic health coach Jessica Rosen explained how you can go the extra mile by consuming raw fruit and vegetable juices.
“Water is always a great option to drink first thing in the morning, but when you’re highly dehydrated, it’s extra beneficial to drink something that provides minerals and electrolytes,” she wrote to Elite Daily. “Just be sure that [the juices] do not contain added sugar and are unpasteurized. Pasteurized fruit juices are loaded with sugar which promotes dehydration.”
Nevertheless, since the new study was only observational, it is too soon to determine causality. The researchers hoped to use the same method in future research and take a closer look at the relationship between baseline sleep and hydration status.