Paging the shiftworkers: help me hydrate correctly

I’ve started a new job working shifts - 4 days on, 2 days off - with the shifts rotating through early, late, and night. Since starting, I’ve found myself waking in the ‘night’ both thirsty and needing to urinate. This is not good. Obviously I’m not drinking the right amounts of water at the right times. I basically drink water and tea at work. I’ve not really analysed my current drinking regime. So to what should I change my drinking habits?

Bump because I start the night shift tomorrow.

Don’t go to bed dehydrated, even if you think you’ll sleep better that way. You should take in enough water to have to get up at least once. I worked nights for many years and learned this the hard way - go to bed dehydrated, wake up with a nasty headache and feeling icky. Drink water during your shift, drink more when you get home. You will actually have better quality sleep for it.

The body’s production of anti-diuretic hormone, which concentrates urine while we sleep, is lower during the daytime, even if you’re sleeping. You can, if you’re working all nights, fool it as far as is possible by maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and making your room absolutely dark (cardboard in the windows, drape over the doorframe, etc.) while you sleep.

As **GythaOgg **says, don’t try to limit your fluid intake before bed to try and outwit it. First of all, it simply won’t work - you have to become seriously dehydrated before your body will conserve water from your urine. Second of all, that way lies urinary tract and kidney infections, kidney stones and general unpleasantness.

It will get better as it gets routine.

Don’t forget tea is a diuretic. In other words, for each cup of tea you drink, drink another cups-worth of plain water at more or less the same time to counteract the tea. That solves the hydration problem, although it does mean taking plenty of pee breaks.

If you want to sleep through your sleep time, stop the tea or coffee no later than halfway through your shift. That will reduce waking up to pee and also ease going to sleep.

ISTR you’re mid 40s or older. Waking to pee gets more common as you get older regardless of shift work. It seems the older bladder is less happy being half-full than the teenage one was.

Ah. That could be interesting, as I use tea to help me stay awake.



I’m bumping this because I’m evidently doing something wrong. I’m back on the night shift but immediately I went to bed this morning, my kidneys started working like gangbusters and I had to go pee twice within an hour.