Most of us always feel thirsty at bedtime and we tend to think it is just another pre-bed routine. It is very common to hear both adults and children asking for a glass of water at bedtime. This is because we often feel thirstier just before bedtime than any other part of the day. The most surprising thing is that most of us do not understand why this happens. However, we are likely to know the reason why this happens, according to recent research findings.
An international journal of science known as Nature’ recently published a study showing a link between our tendency to experience thirst at bedtime and the functioning of our circadian clock.
How does your Brain Control Thirst?
Your body is designed to control thirst using its innate biological rhythm (circadian clock). The hypothalamus, which is the part of your brain that regulates temperature, among other essential activities, allows your body to know exactly when it gets thirsty. Every time your body gets slightly dehydrated, it produces larger amounts of a hormone known as vasopressin, which in return promotes the conservation of water by concentrating urine as well as increasing the reabsorption of water from your kidneys. In addition, your brain and blood vessels contain sensors that constantly sense the concentration of your blood, thus making you feel thirsty whenever your body needs more fluids.
In the above-mentioned study, it was discovered that that nighttime thirst is not associated with the normal mechanisms that the body uses when it needs to be hydrated. Instead, the study showed that just before going to sleep, you become thirsty for other reasons not related to any of your body’s mechanisms for controlling thirst. This essentially means that there are certainly other reasons why you experience thirst at this particular time.
What then is the Link between thirst and bedtime?
The team that conducted the above-mentioned study worked with lab rats in order to try and find the link between thirst and bedtime. They were able to observe that the rats that did not have access to water just before proceeding to sleep showed clear signs of dehydration upon waking up.
The study indicated that the rats were taking in more water intuitively before proceeding to sleep in order to ensure that they remained adequately hydrated throughout the period of time they were asleep, and in which they cannot take in any fluids. This is despite the fact that they continued to use bodily fluids for digestion and tissue repair.
This study showed clearly why we and most other mammals feel the need to take in more water just before bedtime. When we go to sleep, our bodies will still need to use body fluids to digest food and repair tissue. This essentially means that our bodies have an innate ability to make us feel thirstier just before we go to sleep. This is a natural biological function that is meant to help ensure that we remain properly hydrated during our sleep, thus removing the need to disturb our sleep in order to look for something to drink later in the night.
How beneficial is this natural phenomenon?
First and foremost, feeling thirsty just before going to bed inevitably means that you must take some water or a cup of tea to quench your thirst. This means you will enjoy uninterrupted sleep because your body will not require additional fluids while you are asleep.
In addition, the hypothalamus releases increased amounts of vasopressin whenever you are preparing for sleep. This hormone helps reduce urine output during the night, thus making you less likely to go to the bathroom. This in return makes you not to interrupt your sleep.
Improved sleep is the main health benefit of this natural phenomenon. Adequate sleep is in return associated with a number of important health benefits, some of which include the following:
- Helping weight loss
- Improving concentration and productivity
- Enhancing athletic performance
- Reducing the risk of serious diseases, including stroke and heart disease
- Reduced inflammation in the body
- Improved ability to interact socially
- Improving immune function
- Improving the symptoms of depression
All in all
Because of the importance of adequate sleep to our health, our bodies are designed to release hormones that help us reduce urine output during our sleep, in addition to making us feel thirsty just before we go to sleep, thus removing the need to interrupt our sleep. The most important reason why you get thirsty at bedtime is that it helps you enjoy adequate sleep for improved health.