HOW HYDRATION CAN AFFECT YOUR SLEEP

Guest Blogger: Campbell Shelton

One of the most difficult parts of college was my battle with chronic fatigue. Every day of my freshman year, I took at least one 2-hour nap. This was, it seemed, the only way I could make myself complete homework in the evening. I was getting an average of seven to eight hours of sleep a night and I was eating a healthy amount of food. As I grew older and had to learn how to balance school and work, I became better at coping with my tiredness, but it didn’t get better. I would pump myself full of caffeine and swing between artificial highs and very real crashes. It took me two years of this to finally consult a doctor. I met his diagnosis with an equal amount of bewilderment and relief – I was chronically dehydrated.

Studies suggest that dehydration is the #1 cause of daytime fatigue. Dehydration is also linked to headaches, grumpiness, and loss of focus. In fact, experts say that a loss of as little as 2% of body fluid can cause a decline in mental functions. An estimated 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, we generally don’t feel thirsty until we’re already dehydrated. Our busy schedules can distract us from drinking the amounts of water needed to stay fully alert and hydrated. Another big problem is taste – in a market saturated with sugary sodas, energy drinks and juices, drinking water can be seen as a chore.

While many know dehydration can affect their waking hours, what they do not know is the negative effects their lack of water is having on their sleeping hours. Chronic dehydration reduces the amount of essential amino acids needed by your body to produce a natural chemical called melatonin. Melatonin is created in the pineal glands and its creation is linked to a natural circadian rhythm – that is, a normal sleeping and waking schedule. Dehydration can act as a powerful roadblock to your body’s production of melatonin, making it hard to both fall asleep and stay asleep. This means that drinking an appropriate amount of water literally affects the quality of every hour in your day.

The National Academy of Medicine suggests that men should drink around 13 cups of water a day while women can thrive with around 9 cups. At first, it was a little difficult to drink so much. I wasn’t used to carrying around a water bottle, I wasn’t used to drinking when I didn’t feel thirsty, and I was frustrated with how often I had to use the restroom. But, lo and behold, I immediately felt a noticeable difference. By the afternoon of my first day, it felt like a fog had been lifted. For the first time in years, I felt energized and fully present at my job. That night, I slept a full eight hours and woke up feeling refreshed.

After two months of being intentional about hydration, I’ll never go back. Since it’s become such an important part of my routine, I’ve become a little more picky about the type of water I drink. It should come as no surprise that Mountain Valley is my water of choice. Not only is Mountain Valley’s pure and refreshing taste unrivaled among other bottled waters, it also contains an innately high pH and the naturally occurring minerals your body needs to thrive.

by Mountain Valley | April 9, 2016