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Staff losing sleep due to OT? Encourage them to drink more water

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Apart from the holiday cheer, the end of the year also sees more staff working overtime or coming in early to clear work before the holidays – leading to sleep loss and potentially more sick days.

According to a new study by Penn State University, it turns out that the cause of the general feeling of unwellness after a night of poor sleep may also be attributed to dehydration – not simply poor sleep.

The results published in the journal SLEEP on 5 November, suggested adults who slept just six hours per night – as opposed to the recommended eight – may have a higher chance of being dehydrated. This negatively affects many of the body’s systems and functions, including cognition, mood, physical performance and others. Long term or chronic dehydration can lead to more serious problems, such as higher risk of urinary tract infections and kidney stones.

Examining how sleep affected hydration status and risk of dehydration in U.S. and Chinese adults, researchers found those who reported sleeping six hours had significantly more concentrated urine and 16%-59% higher odds of being inadequately hydrated compared to adults who slept eight hours on a regular basis at night.

Digging deeper, the cause was linked to the way the body’s hormonal system regulates hydration.

A hormone called vasopressin is released to help regulate the body’s hydration status. It is released throughout the day, as well as during nighttime sleeping hours, which is what the researchers focused on for this study.

Lead author Asher Rosinger, assistant professor of biobehavioral health and anthropology at Penn State University, said: “Vasopressin is released both more quickly and later on in the sleep cycle. So, if you’re waking up earlier, you might miss that window in which more of the hormone is released, causing a disruption in the body’s hydration.

“If you are only getting six hours of sleep a night, it can affect your hydration status. This study suggests that if you’re not getting enough sleep, and you feel bad or tired the next day, drink extra water.”

The study was funded by the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State University and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Co-authors include Anne-Marie Chang, assistant professor of biobehavioral health; Orfeu Buxton, professor of biobehavioral health; and Xiang Gao, associate professor of nutritional sciences, all at Penn State University.

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