I see lots of recommendations of drinking enough water. Another usual fitness recommendation is getting a decent amount of sleep in order to help muscle growth and tissue repair (precious testosterone and growth hormone secretions are well known to happen mostly during deep sleep in adults).

But nobody says anything about how to reconcile both things there where they collide: drinking water immediately before going to bed will make you interrupt your sleep in order to go to the toilet.

The only way I can get eight hours of continuous sleep is by avoiding drinking any liquid two hours before bedtime. I drink water often during the day (specially immediately before and after exercise) but if I maintain my usual water intake until bedtime, then my sleep gets interrupted because I have to go to the toilet at least once.

From the way I fell the next morning, I am not sure which strategy is best: less continuous sleep but well hydrated, or 8 hours of sound sleep but thirsty. I guess low hydration must not favour much the natural anabolic processes in your body.

I once saw a recommendation in a Navy Seals fitness video in youtube. A military physician recommended high water intake before going to bed, no matter how many times that made you go to the toilet. But in the other end of the spectrum, interrupting sleep for going to the toilet often is considered a health condition (Nocturia).

I would like to hear how the more experiences athletes here manage that equilibrium.

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    Questions about general health and nutrition are explicitly off-topic. Nov 12, 2014 at 12:46
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    There are natural near-awakened states that your brain enters while you sleep. I would bet that the times you wake up to urinate correspond to the periods of near-awakenedness. Actually there's a theory that people used to wake up for ~ an hour every night in the middle of the night. So it may be possible that the sleep you're losing may be of insignificant quality anyway. If you don't feel any more tired after nights when you get up to urinate, then that would suggest my theory is correct.
    – Tyler
    Nov 13, 2014 at 3:17
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    @JohnP I guess moderators have had a hard time trying to keep this site away from people asking about medical health or diets. You have probably had a lot of discussions in meta (too busy to do a search now). I understand the difficulty: how to exclude "My knees usually hurt a bit after much running" (answer: change to new running shoes regularly - but that can be regarded as medical advice) or "Muscle cramps at the end of long swimming sessions" (answer: increase dietary magnesium intake - oops, nutrition)? - I haven't been here for the past year, but it seems to me things are stricter now.
    – Mephisto
    Nov 13, 2014 at 16:49
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    @Mephisto - Not as you phrase it. Simply asking about sleep doesn't make it on topic. It's the same thing as asking "I get short of breath if I slouch over, what's wrong?". I mean, after all, if you can't breathe you can't exercise. By your logic, anything is on topic because if you can't do X you can't exercise.
    – JohnP
    Nov 14, 2014 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


You are correct that both sleep and hydration are very important, especially for a training athlete. Many professional triathletes sleep 9-11 hours/night, in addition to a nap during the day.

You stated that you ordinarily refrain from drinking water 2 hours before bed. This is the correct behavior. Furthermore, you should also not eat shortly before bed.

The reason to go to bed on an empty stomach (which is different from going to bed hungry) is to fully maximize the restorative processes that occur during sleep such as muscle building, capillary growth, and other beneficial processes. When you go to bed with water and/or food in your stomach, the body shifts some of the energy it would normally use for restorative processes, and instead directs those energies to metabolizing whats in your stomach.

Short answer: go to bed on empty stomach -> recover more quickly from training -> increased training load -> better results.

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    Interesting, any citation to back this up?
    – andrewb
    Nov 18, 2014 at 21:48

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