A study published in the journal Nature by researchers at McGill University in Montreal found that our body clock triggers thirst in the hours before sleep, according to a Sept. 28 article on ScienceDaily.com.
Scientists at McGill conducted research on mice, which usually showed a surge in water intake two hours before sleeping. By restricting access to water, the team found that the mice were dehydrated toward the end of the sleep cycle, the article notes. The liquid consumption, then, helped the mice stay hydrated and healthy during sleep.
Researchers also discovered the molecular process behind the thirst—involving a neuropeptide produced by the brain region that regulates circadian cycles turning on thirst neurons.
“Although this study was performed in rodents, it points toward an explanation as to why we often experience thirst and ingest liquids such as water or milk before bedtime,” says the study’s senior author Charles Bourque. “More importantly, this advance in our understanding of how the clock executes a circadian rhythm has applications in situations such as jet lag and shift work. All our organs follow a circadian rhythm, which helps optimize how they function. Shift work forces people out of their natural rhythms, which can have repercussions on health. Knowing how the clock works gives us more potential to actually do something about it.”