How do I stay more hydrated at night?
March 27, 2008 12:23 PM   Subscribe

I wake up with a dry mouth three to four times a night. This has been going on for quite a few years, but it would be nice to find a solution that works and to be able to sleep through the night more often.

I wake up with the dry mouth, take a few sips of water, go back to sleep, usually every couple of hours. This happens year-round.

Things I have tried to little avail: keeping a humidifier going during the dry winter months (makes no difference but soaks the bedroom windows, which is not a Good Thing); having a large cup of decaf tea a couple of hours before bedtime; drinking a glass of water right before bedtime; eliminating or reducing alcohol (in any case I usually limit this to one or two drinks 4 hours or more before bedtime). I don't have any dry mouth problems during the day.

Any suggestions appreciated.
posted by beagle to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
My guess is you're breathing through your mouth instead of your nose. Do you have stuffy noses often or any other sinus issues?
posted by reebear at 12:33 PM on March 27, 2008

Have you been checked for sleep apnea?
posted by aramaic at 12:34 PM on March 27, 2008

How's the temperature in the room at night? Where is the heat source in your bedroom?

This happens to me occasionally, but I'm pretty sure it has to do with heat and circulation in my case. I sleep best by an open window, and I turn down the thermostat at night -- a good thing to do anyway, IMO.
posted by stokast at 12:35 PM on March 27, 2008

Response by poster: Answers to questions posed: I don't believe I breathe through my mouth or have sleep apnea. I'm familiar with that problem, my wife uses a PAP machine. She says I don't snore, and I don't sleep on my back. But I haven't been checked for apnea. We keep the room cool, about 60 degrees, in winter. The heat is radiant floor heating. I don't often feel too hot at night.
posted by beagle at 12:40 PM on March 27, 2008

Do you use mouthwash before bed? Many contain alcohol, which could dry you out. Some brands offer alcohol-free mouthwashes. I use Crest Pro-Health, for example.

Also, you could try something like this oral spray, which claims to remedy "severe dry mouth symptoms."
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 12:44 PM on March 27, 2008

Response by poster: And, by the way, I am not on any medication.
posted by beagle at 12:46 PM on March 27, 2008

Thirst is not necessarily a good indicator of dehydration. Have you tried drinking more water during the daytime? Just a thought.
posted by Wylie Kyoto at 1:00 PM on March 27, 2008

Response by poster: Answering more questions: I do use an alcoholic mouthwash, although I have the same symptoms when I travel and don't bring it along. A couple of the suggested products seem worth a try; I'm picking some up tonight. Wylie: I don't drink the proverbial 8 glasses a day, so that's worth a try as well.
posted by beagle at 1:05 PM on March 27, 2008

Just an FYI: booticon kindly alerted me that some customers have had bad experiences with Crest Pro-Health. I use the "Night" formulation and it hasn't happened to me, but I thought you should know.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 1:10 PM on March 27, 2008

Expanding on jamaro's suggestion, I use the Toms of Maine dry-mouth toothpaste during allergy season, which is when I tend to mouth-breathe. The flavor's not as good as the other TofM toothpastes, though.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:10 PM on March 27, 2008

Out of curiosity - how dry is your mouth?

I also have recently (last few weeks-maybe longer) been afflicted with night time dry mouth. To the point where my mouth is like sandpaper. Water helps then I go back to bed. Same for you?
posted by doorsfan at 1:12 PM on March 27, 2008

Could it be that you're not really waking up due to thirst but out of habit, and that waking up completely in order to sip water before going back to sleep reinforces that habit? The normal sleep cycle gets pretty shallow at times, & how we respond to those parts of the cycle can mean the difference between good sleep & crummy sleep. (Assuming no pathology.)

Mr headnsouth tends to wake up several times a night, and each time he gets up, maybe goes to pee, might get a drink, grumbles about being awake, and goes back to sleep. I am sometimes aware of waking in the night too, but unless my bladder is screaming at me, I'm disinclined to wake up all the way.

Sleep habits are hard to change though. So adding a dehumidifier or changing your pre-bedtime routine might not have any effect on your middle-of-the-night habits even if they do affect your actual thirst.
posted by headnsouth at 1:18 PM on March 27, 2008

If your body is dehydrated to begin with, having a glass of water before you go to bed is not going to hydrate you much. (Btw, decaf doesn't mean no caffein, it only means less caffein) You should try drinking water more throughout the day. (and binge-water-drinking will not count). It is recommended that people drink about 9-13 cups of water a day.

Your diet might be causing further dehydration, too. High-protein diet can cause dehydration and lack of vitamine in your system can cause dry mouth at night. Ideally you should have dietician take a look at your regular food intake, but if not, just try drinking more water and take multivitamines and see if the occurence of such symptom decreases.

Other things - having indoor plants in your bedroom might help. Not only does it clean up the air in your bedroom, looking at green plants will have calming effects on you. Sometimes, being nervous or having an anxiety can cause dry mouth, so you should consider having a plant or two.

If nothing helps, you should go see a doctor to see if there's any abnormality in your saliva production.
posted by grafholic at 1:43 PM on March 27, 2008

Response by poster: doorsfan: No, it aint' sandpaper, there's still some moisture there. Just dry in a way that doesn't happen during the daytime. But a few sips of water takes care of it for another few hours.
headnsouth: that has occurred to me, but (a) the times vary, and (b) the mouth really is dry, it's not just the sipping habit. I don't get up or have to pee, I keep the water by the bed. But if tell myself to ignore it, forget the water, and try to go back to sleep, the dry mouth is uncomfortable enough to prevent that.
posted by beagle at 1:45 PM on March 27, 2008

First, the 8 glasses thing is a myth. Not to suggest that you shouldn't be hydrating properly - but 9-13 cups - no.

Second, you don't "believe" you breathe through your mouth at night - but, how clear are your nasal passages when you wake? Do you find any blockage at all (not necessarily completely blocked)?

The only time I ever woke from dry mouth was when recovering from nasal surgery - when there was no air through my nose. Your physiology might be different and switch to mouth breathing even with less obstruction. Maybe try breathe-right strips?

Good luck.
posted by birdsquared at 2:09 PM on March 27, 2008

I keep a glass of water or iced tea by my bed for when I wake up in the morning, as I have to take thyroid medication first thing, then wait at least an hour before eating. Would this be feasible for you? I found that it also helps when you are on anti-depressants to have the water right there on a coaster on the night table.
posted by misha at 2:30 PM on March 27, 2008

Have you been tested for diabetes?
posted by mattoxic at 3:00 PM on March 27, 2008

Response by poster: mattoxic: Diabetes, no. I have no other problems that might indicate that.
birdsquared: Nasal passages are a bit blocked sometimes, due to cat allergies.
Thanks all for the suggestions, I will try some of these and talk it over with the doc as well in an upcoming physical.
posted by beagle at 4:20 PM on March 27, 2008

Also maybe place the humidifier elsewhere in the room. Having a non-dry room especially in the winter is crucial to avoid this, but if its soaking the curtains maybe its too powerful for the room?
posted by softlord at 5:05 PM on March 27, 2008

Is your tongue dry too, or "coated" when you wake up? if so, it's probably mouth-breathing in your sleep. I get this when I forget to mediate the very dry electric heat we have: sleeping, sinuses close up from hot dry air, start beathing through mouth to compensate, mouth dries up. Wake, sip water, blow nose, back to bed, repeat. Same reported from relatives with allergies.
posted by bartleby at 6:13 PM on March 27, 2008

Just because this hasn't been suggested yet: if it's due to your mouth popping open during the night, chin strap or surgical tape (or chin strap tape) is the way to go, as your CPAP-wearing wife can probably tell you.
posted by availablelight at 6:45 PM on March 27, 2008

My doctor recommended Biotene, a mouthwash that's for people with dry mouth problems. I think they also have a toothpaste. I'd recommend trying that, and like you said, talking to the doctor.

(However, my lips tend to part when I sleep even when my jaw is closed, which I think is the culprit for my dry mouth problems.)
posted by wintersweet at 6:53 PM on March 27, 2008

Sleep with a lozenge lodged in one cheek. Sounds strange, but it works for me to some degree. I usually do that when I have a sore/dry throat.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:20 PM on March 27, 2008

When I have problems with heartburn/acid reflux this happens to me at night.
posted by Silvertree at 9:25 AM on March 28, 2008

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