Along with exercise and good nutrition habits, experts agree that sleep is equally fundamental to an athlete’s health and performance. But studies show that in addition to factors such as room temperature and light from electronics, hydration also plays a role when it comes to obtaining restorative shut-eye. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a lack of fluids can impair sleep, making you feel sluggish and irritable during the day.
“Even a slight level of dehydration will make you sleep lighter,” adds Chris Winter, M.D., a sleep specialist based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Here, he weighs in on an ideal hydration timeline.
1. Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up.
Through respiration we lose a significant amount of water when we sleep, explains Winter, who suggests reaching for a glass of cold or room temperature water first thing in the morning. “Your body has to use more effort to warm up the water to body temp, which helps boost your metabolism,” he says. For extra energy, try adding a squeeze of lemon or an immunity-boosting tincture such as Echinacea.
2. Wait two to three hours after waking up to have coffee.
Winter advises holding off on the caffeine until after your morning workout, or at least a few hours after you wake up. It acts as a diuretic, and since you’re already waking up having lost fluids, it’s best to start the day rehydrating with water, he says. “Make sure you’re hydrating with water before and during your workout,” he adds. Then you can sip on your morning roast and opt for a lighter one, which is higher in antioxidants. “I like to make what I call Viking coffee after a HIIT workout,” says New York City-based model and recipe developer Silja Danielsen. “It’s prepared with collagen and cardamom, a spice that aids in digestion.”
3. Drink water when you eat.
It’s important to consume water at regular intervals, but especially with meals. Research shows that doing so aids digestion and helps your body absorb nutrients. Throughout the day, focus on foods like Brazil nuts and omega 3-rich fish, which contain nutrients such as selenium and magnesium that help promote sleep.
4. Try a golden latte in the afternoon.
After lunch, opt for a caffeine-free beverage since the substance can linger in your body for up to six hours and make it harder to wind down. Instead, try hydrating with this vegan recipe. “I like to have this drink in the afternoon or early evening because it gives me energy but still allows me to fall asleep,” says Danielsen. This is a great choice since it’s made with turmeric, an anti-inflammatory spice that can aid with muscle regeneration. Moreover, “turmeric can help bring down your body temperature and help you fall asleep more easily,” points out Winter.
5. Have a glass of water right before bed.
Leg cramps due to dehydration can disturb your sleep, which is why drinking fluids before bed is a good idea. It’s a misconception that you’ll wake up and need to go to the bathroom if you hydrate before bed, adds Winter. “Unless you have a bladder condition, in the majority of cases you wake up from an external stimuli such as a room that’s too humid. Then, because you’re already up, you feel the need to use the bathroom.”
Click here for Golden Milk recipe