When should you stop drinking water before bed? Sleep expert shares her wisdom

Get your hydration levels right if you want to ensure an unbroken night's sleep

A hand holding a glass of water
(Image credit: Pexels / Daria Shevtsova)

Hydration is one of life's great balancing acts. Getting too much water down you can feel just as bad as not getting enough, only in different ways. And getting it right at bedtime can mean the difference between eight hours of restful slumber and a totally disturbed night punctuated by bleary trips to the bathroom.

But how do you get the balance right? Obviously drinking too much water before bed is a bad idea, but how much is too much, and when should you stop drinking water in the evening? If you're losing sleep just worrying about hydration, you'll be pleased to know that the mindbodygreen podcast has been asking all the important questions and has some useful answers from psychologist and sleep doctor Shelby Harris. Read on if, despite having the best mattress and best sleep tracker, your hydration levels are still denying you a proper night's sleep.

A hand pouring water into a glass

(Image credit: Pexels / Yan Krukov)

Firstly, she notes that, yes, not drinking enough water can ruin your sleep, citing a 2019 study that found adults getting six hours sleep or less per night also had inadequate hydration levels. However she also admits that overdoing it on the hydration can mean a broken night's sleep as you get up to go to the bathroom.

So what can you do to find your hydration sweet spot? Harris suggests that it's not just about what you drink in the evening; instead you should start by monitoring how much water you drink during the day and work from there. "Some people are not drinking enough during the day," she says, "so come nighttime, they're super thirsty." And that results in making up for a lack of hydration in the evening and ending up in bed with too much water sloshing around your system. "I encourage people to really try and hydrate throughout the day so that you're not backlogging it at night," she concludes.

Of course that's not to say that if you're feeling thirsty in the evening you should deny yourself a little drink, and naturally if you need to take pills or supplements at night then you're going to need a bit of water to wash them down; just try and keep things light; Harris suggests limiting your amount of water to about eight ounces (or about 240Ml).

Close up of a hand holding a glass of water

(Image credit: Pexels / Daria Shevtsova)

And when you get up in the morning, start the day the way you mean to go on with some lovely water, especially if you've had a bad night. "I encourage everyone in the morning, if you've had a rough night of sleep, start your day with a big glass of water," says Harris, adding that she prefers hers with a slice of lemon.

Want to know more? You can get more bedtime hydration tips at the mindbodygreen podcast.

Jim is a freelance writer who has been covering tech, games, design and more for magazines, websites and brands over many years.