Waking up thirsty could be a minor annoyance, but if it happens often, it could signal a health condition that needs your attention.

Here are some possibilities to consider if your need for something to drink is waking you up at night.

If you want to sleep soundly, a cooler room is better than a warmer one. Experts recommend that you set your bedroom temperature between 60 and 70°F (16 and 21°C).

If you’re waking up thirsty, it’s also possible that the air in your home is too dry.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that you keep the humidity in your home between 30 and 50 percent. This is dry enough to limit mold growth.

Exactly how much water people need daily can vary. In general, drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day.

If you’ve exercised heavily, work in the heat, or recently lost a lot of fluids from vomiting, diarrhea, or fever, you may need to drink more liquids to replace the water and electrolytes you’ve lost.

Paying close attention to water intake is especially important for children and older adults, whose sense of thirst may not be an accurate gauge of their hydration levels.

Thirst is a side effect for many prescribed medications, including:

If you’re waking up thirsty after taking one of these medications, you may want to talk to your doctor to see whether there’s an alternative that won’t have you heading toward the tap in the middle of the night.

If you had more than a few alcoholic drinks in a short period of time, you might wake up feeling parched.

Your thirst response is possibly being triggered by diuresis — which is a loss of fluids through urination — as well as other chemical mechanisms within the body.

When your body breaks down alcohol, a chemical called acetaldehyde is produced. That chemical stimulates results in the sensation of thirst, in addition to causing other physiological reactions.

If you’re hungover, you can try steadily sipping:

  • water
  • herbal tea
  • sports drinks to restore lost electrolytes
  • clear broth to restore your sodium level

If you have sleep apnea, you may be breathing through your mouth at night. The discomfort of a dry mouth could wake you. Using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device can worsen dry mouth, too.

If you’re using a CPAP machine, you can talk to your doctor about a machine that’s less likely to dry out your mouth at night.

It’s important to talk to your dentist about dry mouth, too. Less saliva in your mouth can lead to tooth decay.

The reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone both play an important role in fluid regulation and thirst in your body. During perimenopause and menopause, hormonal changes can cause hot flashes, night sweats, and increased thirst.

In a 2013 study, researchers studied sweating patterns in premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women as they exercised. The study found that the perimenopausal and postmenopausal participants perceived themselves as being thirstier compared to premenopausal participants both before and after exercising.

If you’re in menopause, it’s especially important to be sure you drink plenty of water every day.

Diabetes mellitus causes excessive thirst. When your body can’t properly process sugar, your kidneys work overtime trying to rid your bloodstream of the excess sugar. Your kidneys produce more urine, which triggers a thirst response to prompt you to drink more water.

Other related conditions can also cause extreme thirst, such as:

Central and nephrogenic diabetes insipidus can affect your production or absorption of vasopressin, respectively. Vasopressin, also called antidiuretic hormone, is a hormone that regulates water balance in the body.

The result is that your body loses too much urine, so you experience an almost unquenchable sensation of thirst.

Sjögren syndrome

Sjögren syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that causes your body to attack the glands that moisturize your eyes and mouth. It affects more women than men. It can also cause:

  • vaginal dryness
  • rashes
  • dry skin
  • joint pain
  • systemic inflammation

Chewing gum and using lozenges may help with dry mouth. Your doctor can prescribe medications to help regulate your body’s immune response.


Anemia is a disorder that affects your red blood cells. The most widely reported symptom of anemia is fatigue or tiredness.

However, increased thirst can also be a symptom. Certain types of anemia can sometimes lead to dehydration.

Anemia is usually a mild condition, but if it’s left untreated, it can lead to more serious health issues. Talk to your doctor if you think it might be related to what’s waking you at night.

Heart, kidney, or liver failure

If you have severe heart, kidney, or liver failure, you may feel intensely thirsty as your body works to balance its water and electrolyte levels.

In several studies, around 70 percent of the people in intensive care units with these conditions experienced moderate to severe thirst.

It’s a good idea to talk to a healthcare provider anytime you have concerns about a symptom or condition you’re experiencing.

Definitely plan a doctor’s visit if:

  • You can’t quench your thirst no matter how much you drink.
  • You’re urinating increasingly large amounts of urine every day.
  • You’re often exhausted or fatigued.
  • Your vision is blurred.
  • You have wounds, cuts, or sores that don’t heal properly.
  • Your thirst is accompanied by excessive hunger.

If you wake up during the night because you’re feeling thirsty, the cause could be your sleeping environment, hydration habits, or a medication you’re taking.

A simple adjustment to your routine could lead to an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

But if you regularly wake up feeling thirsty, an underlying health condition may be the culprit.

In that case, track how often you wake up in this state and make note of other symptoms you notice. Talk to your doctor about what’s going on. Your body may be trying to tell you something important.