Doing This One Thing Before Bed Could Transform Your Sleep

Sip your way to zzz’s.

By Annie Thompson

There are a few things to consider when it comes to drinking water before bed. Namely, the benefits, what type of water is best, and how long before drifting into a deep sleep you should stop drinking water. And here’s the truth: both avid water consumers and those of us who drink more coffee than H20 have a lot to learn! To answer all your burning questions, we’ve honed in on the specifics about drinking water before bed and are ready to break it down.

I’m not sure what your bedtime ritual looks like, but mine always includes a hot shower or bath, soothing tea, and a lengthy period of relaxation before shutting my eyes. In fact, my nighttime ritual might just be my favorite part of the day. It gives me space to unwind and process my thoughts. And as goofy as it sounds, I can’t wind down fully without a glass of water on my bedside table. So whether you’re also curious about the pros and cons, or just looking to absorb some general info, here’s everything you need to know about drinking water before bed.

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

Pouring lemon water_drinking water before bed
Image by Riley Reed

The Benefits of Drinking Water Before Bed

To start, drinking water before bed (obviously) keeps you more hydrated throughout the night, which can lead to an improved mood and better sleep. Drinking water before bed can also help your body detox naturally. It helps the body flush out unwanted toxins in both your skin and digestive system—which will thank you later.

But while drinking water before bed definitely has its benefits, be careful not to overdo it. Guzzling too much pre-bedtime water can interrupt your sleep with too many middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom. Aside from that, drinking water before bed is not something you should avoid so long as you’re mindful how to make the healthy practice work for you.

Lemon herb water_drinking water before bed
Image by Michelle Nash

Cold Water vs. Warm Water

Cold Water Benefits

Drinking cold water before bed has lots of benefits. First, cold water consumption can help your body burn more calories while you sleep. The body has to work to warm the water you’re consuming, which burns calories with zero physical effort required.

However, if this sounds too good to be true, know this: it kind of is. While it is true that you have to expend more energy to get your body temperature back to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll burn only about eight calories in the process. And as researchers at UAMS have shared, this is about the same amount of calories in a small pickle. In other words, not super significant.

But if it’s a good night’s sleep you’re after and not a while-you-sleep workout, drinking cold water also helps lower your body temperature naturally, which can lead to a better night’s sleep.

Warm Water Benefits

One of the benefits of drinking warm water before bed is that it can help your body naturally detox and improve digestion. Warm water can increase blood circulation, which encourages the body to break down waste and increase its sweat output. Yes, sweating does cause the body to emit fluid throughout the night, but it also removes salts and toxins—cleansing your skin cells naturally!

Additionally, warm water can serve as a pain reliever and immunity booster. If you’re experiencing stomach pain or cramping, warm water can alleviate that pain before and while you sleep. In terms of immunity, adding lemon to your water can introduce vitamin C to the mix—and give your water a little flavor. Vitamin C can boost your immune system and help the body fight infection. Total win-win.

Making up bed_drinking water before bed
Image by Michelle Nash

When to Stop Drinking Water Before Bed

Drinking water before bed definitely has its benefits, but again, be careful not to consume too much as it can disrupt your sleep cycle.

One way to avoid excess late-night consumption is to stay hydrated throughout the day. And while each person’s recommended intake varies, aiming for eight glasses a day is a tangible goal that can keep you hydrated. If you struggle to meet this goal (you’re not alone, btw), try increasing your vegetable and fruit intake, as these foods have a high water content. Drinking a glass of water with each meal can also help you stay on track, and having a go-to water bottle to carry around always helps me consume more water.

So how long before bed should you stop drinking water? Well, the answer varies, and the jury is still out on this one. That said, it’s often recommended to stop drinking water one or two hours before going to sleep. This is largely to avoid disrupting sleep by going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Neutral water bottle_drinking water before bed
Image by Kelly Scogin 

If you’re feeling extra thirsty around bedtime, however, it might not be because you’re dehydrated. Your brain is prone to “tricking” you into feeling thirsty right before sleeping. Without getting too science-y, I’ll break it down.

The biological clock located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of your brain is made up of arginine vasopressin (AVP) producing neurons. These antidiuretic hormones regulate your body’s fluid balance by reducing the amount of fluid secretion your body requires during nighttime sleep. In other words, these hormones keep your body from having to go to the bathroom all night.

So why the sudden thirst before bedtime? Vasopressin is a water-retaining hormone that also encourages the body to drink more fluids, and the AVP neurons are more active during the hours leading up to sleep. This is one explanation for that pre-sleep thirst wave, so don’t panic or suspect dehydration is behind it all. It might just be your mind playing tricks on you.