It’s 2 a.m. and you’re standing in front of your refrigerator. Your arm rests lazily on the open door as your eyes gaze over the first shelf’s selection, but unlike they type of people who are always hungry at night, waking up parched is part of your nighttime routine. Try as you may to gulp down the recommended eight glasses of water per day, come early nightfall, you’re always left wondering why you’re thirsty in the middle of the night and what, if anything, there is to do about this uncompromising thirst. Well, the good thing is you probably haven’t sprung a leak, but the bad thing is you’re definitely doing something wrong in the hydration department, so you might want to get that sorted out, if not for any reason other than to put a stop to this torturous form of sleep deprivation.
Honestly, I can’t relate if you wake up in the middle of the night in dire need of something — anything — to quench an unyielding thirst. Personally, I’m more of a middle-of-the-night-munchies type of gal, but apparently, a lot of people are thirsty as heck come nightfall, so you definitely don’t have to feel alone in your dire need to drink at all hours of the night. The problem is, though, excessive thirst can wash over you for a number of reasons, so it’s really important to figure out what’s actually going on in order to rule out any of the potentially more serious root causes.
If you're thirsty in the middle of the night, it could be dehydration — but there are other factors to consider, too.
Be honest with yourself: How much water do you actually drink per day? For a good chunk of my young-adult life, I’m pretty sure my body was made up of 60 percent Arizona Iced Tea and lemon Snapple. I wanted all the sugary drinks and nothing to do with good ol’ H2O — that is, until my dad started leaving three bottles of Poland Spring in my car every morning before school with a post-it note reading “drink me.” His message was received, and I’ve been downing at least five cups of the stuff per day (hey, no one’s perfect, right?).
Unfortunately, fizzy drinks loaded with sugary, carbonated goodness aren’t great for keeping your body hydrated, and if you’re running on three no-foam, two-shot espressos every day and ordering a Coke with dinner, it’s really no surprise you’re pouring yourself a tall glass of water right before bed. In fact, according to SFGate, caffeine is a natural diuretic, aka something that makes you pee more. In other words, the more you go to the bathroom, the less liquid is in your body to keep you hydrated, so if these are your go-to bevs day in and day out, it’s likely that the reason you're pounding back a bottle of H2O every night is because you aren’t drinking enough hydrating liquids during the day.
The downside to nighttime thirst is that, well, dehydration might be the least of your worries. According to Healthline, if you’re thirsty in the middle of the night, it could be that you ate something spicy for dinner, your body’s reacting to a nasty burn, you’re sick, or it could be a potential red flag for diabetes.
Per Healthline's breakdown, there are three strains of diabetes nighttime thirst could be linked to: Diabetes mellitus, which is when a spike in blood sugar causes you to crave liquids; diabetes insipidus, which is when your body can’t regulate liquids so you have an imbalance in water content; and dipsogenic diabetes insipidus, which basically means you’re just always thirsty because of a defect in the body. Of course, these are all worst-case scenarios, but it’s best to check with your doctor if your nighttime thirst becomes excessive and affects you during the day, too.
When you're thirsty in the middle of the night, honor that thirst, but quench it with the right kinds of beverages.
According to Nightfood advisory board member and sleep doctor, Dr. Michael Breus, depending on your medical history and current health, you should be able to stop drinking liquids about two hours before bedtime, and still be able to sleep through the night. But if, for some reason, you're still tossing and turning and waking up parched, you should absolutely honor your thirst. The question is: What do you drink?
As far as Breus is concerned, water is going to be your best bet (shocker, right?), but decaffeinated tea, he says, is also a good choice too. "Tea is also OK, but make it non-caffeinated," he tells Elite Daily. "I recommend guava-leaf tea; it's tasty and helps control blood sugar at night."
As for how much you should drink, that's really going to depend on how thirsty you are and how much your body can handle. Personally, I always fill up a water bottle and leave it beside my bed, just in case. That way, if I wake up thirsty, I can take a few sips and go back to sleep. Feel it out and drink to satisfy your body's thirst. You'll find your sweet spot eventually.