To put things into perspective, Jennifer Williams, MPH, a hydration scientist with Abbott, points out that if you’re nabbing seven to eight hours of sleep, this tends to be the longest amount of time most folks will go without consuming any fluids or food. Meaning establishing a solid morning rehydration routine is imperative. And while many of us may be accustomed to downing a big ol’ cup of coffee first thing in the morning, a sleep expert, hydration scientist, and medical doctor all agree that coffee should *not* be your first drink of the day. Ahead, we delve into the best way to restore your hydration levels after a sweaty night’s rest right.
How can night sweats impact hydration levels?
First and foremost, it’s important to determine what’s causing your night sweats in the first place. According to Caroline Cederquist, MD, a board-certified physician and founder and chief medical officer of BistroMD, sweaty sleep can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. “If you’re waking up consistently covered in sweat, you should make an appointment with your primary care provider. If you cannot see your doctor right away, cease drinking alcohol, which increases heart rate and dilates blood vessels which can trigger sweat,” Dr. Cederquist says. But again, night sweats can be caused by numerous factors, including (but not limited to) a reaction to a new medication, hormonal changes, undiagnosed diabetes, hyperthyroidism, excessive alcohol consumption, to name a few. There’s also a solid chance that your bedroom (and/or bedding, and/or pajamas) is too hot.
Back to hydration loss. Once any underlying conditions are ruled out, the next step is to assess how night sweating impacts hydration levels come sunrise. Research shows that over a full day, about 300-400 milliliters of water are lost from breathing, and a significant portion of that occurs while sleeping. “The amount of water someone loses when experiencing night sweats can vary from person to person depending on the level and frequency of the night sweats, which can be impacted by their overall hydration, to begin with, and their overall health,” Dr. Cederquist says. Depending on the extent of hydration loss, functioning the next day can be a challenge if the body isn’t properly replenished. “Signs of dehydration can include headaches, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, confusion, and fatigue, which all can impact our overall energy and functioning as well as our mood,” she says.
So, what should you drink first thing in the morning to restore hydration?
According to Dr. Cederquist, the first thing you should do after waking up from a sweaty night’s sleep is crystal clear: drink water. Williams also agrees that squeezing in a glass of water before (!) your usual morning go-to beverages (like tea, coffee, and smoothies) will help rehydrate and replenish the losses experienced overnight. However, if you’ve experienced an especially sweaty sleep, Williams recommends supplementing the water with electrolytes. “When it comes to rehydration, both water and electrolytes are key. However, water alone doesn’t replenish your body with the electrolytes—sodium, chloride, and potassium—or a carbohydrate like glucose that is needed for active fluid transport in the body,” Williams says.
According to Dr. Cederquist, the first thing you should do after waking up from a sweaty night’s sleep is crystal clear: drink water.
To incorporate electrolytes into your breakfast routine, Williams recommends adding a protein-fruit smoothie or avocado toast to the mix. Or, for a win-win solution, she notes that hydrating foods are also a great source of replenishment. “According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, food accounts for approximately 20 percent of daily fluid intake, so look to snack on seasonal summer snacks, such as melon, tomatoes, and strawberries, all of which are naturally rich in water, carbohydrates, and electrolytes,” Williams says.
That said, she cautions against consuming overly sugary drinks or food that can have adverse effects on hydration. “Drinking sugary drinks isn’t a favorable solution because the excess sugar may cause gastrointestinal symptoms like cramping, bloating, or nausea. Too much sugar can limit the body’s ability to absorb fluids or slow down the hydration process, which can actually make dehydration worse,” Williams says. Additionally, consuming salt in moderation is not only important but also essential. “Think twice if you’re avoiding salt. Sodium and chloride—table salt—are critical electrolytes that help to deliver water to your body’s cells and maintain your hydration balance during the day,” she adds.
The perfect food and drink combo for hydration, according to the expert? “Grab a mixed fruit salad with watermelon, berries, and banana, along with some salty nuts or pretzels to give you a nice hydrating snack plus some important electrolytes,” Williams says, which she pairs along with a tall glass of refreshing lemon water, a cup of coffee, and a packet of Pedialyte Fast Hydration powder packs, which contain a balance of electrolytes and glucose for fast rehydration throughout the day.
What’s the best way to prevent hydration loss overnight?
According to Nilong Vyas, MD, a sleep expert at Sleepless in NOLA and a medical review expert at SleepFoundation.org, night sweats shouldn’t be the norm, and that they can be linked to underlying conditions. “Getting to the root of the issue should be the first line of defense against night sweats,” Dr. Vyas says. However, in order to keep hydration loss at bay overnight, she recommends sleeping on cool bedding with breathable clothing. “After waking from a night sweating episode, change your clothing and bedding, drink water, and try to get back to sleep,” Dr. Vyas says.
Another approach to staving away night sweats? Pre-hydrating. “Try to get in some extra hydrating fluids and foods to help ensure that you don’t fall behind,” Williams says. “Generally, if you are on top of your hydration game during the day, drinking a moderate amount of water in the evening is likely sufficient to help keep you hydrated while you sleep,” she says. As a general rule of thumb, Williams notes that women should drink about nine cups of fluid per day, and men should drink roughly 13 cups daily.
“You may just want to shoot for at least two-thirds of your hydration goals before dinner so you aren’t interrupting your sleep with bathroom visits,” Williams says. Talk about words to live by.
An RD shares some of the most hydrating foods:
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