Should You Be Drinking Lemon Water Before Bed?

Photo: Stocksy/Vera Lair
I used to be obsessed with learning the daily rituals of people I admired on the Internet, in the hopes of learning their secrets for luminous skin, workout rituals, and seemingly anxiety-free lives (spoiler alert: Instagram isn’t reality, if you haven’t already heard).

In my endless scrolling, it became apparent that pretty much every health influencer cites lemon water in their daily habits. These glowy creatures credit the magical elixir with everything from improving skin and digestion to boosting their immune systems and helping their bodies "detox"—whatever that means.

But when we hear of people drinking lemon water to try to reap all the purported benefits, we mostly hear about including the bevvie as part of a morning routine. Between getting out the door for my workout and getting kids, pets, and myself ready for the day, I can’t seem to get it together to add one more thing to my morning routine. But what about nighttime? I set out to learn if there is anything to be gained from flipping the script and drinking lemon water before bed when winding down.

Experts In This Article

What are lemon water benefits?

As Well+Good has previously reported, the benefits of drinking lemon water might be a tad bit overblown. “Contrary to popular belief, many specific claims about the benefits of drinking lemon water aren’t backed by science,” says Megen Erwine, RD for LetsGetChecked.

That being said, she certainly doesn’t mean that there are zero benefits to the tart stuff. Lemons are a good source of vitamin C, with one tablespoon providing about 10 milligrams—and most adults need 75-90 milligrams of vitamin C per day. “Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and supports the immune system. It plays a role in cardiovascular disease prevention, cancer prevention and treatment, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract progression, and prevention and treatment of the common cold,” Erwine says. In fact, you can also use lemon water for UTI treatment in some cases, since the beverage can help encourage optimal bladder health.

That said, many of the benefits of lemon water come from the basic hydration factor, which you can achieve with or without the citrus component. Staying hydrated is, after all, a highly integral part of maintaining one's overall health and longevity and one of the best remedies for when your body is trying to tell you that you're not drinking enough water. Research also shows that it's easier for folks 60 and over to become dehydrated. Additionally, not drinking sufficient amounts of water can cause many side effects, such as headaches, brain fog or confusion, fatigue, mood swings, lightheadedness, and dizziness, to name a few.

And that whole concept of “detox”? Plain ol’ water will do that for you, too. “Increased water consumption can assist the liver and kidneys in removing toxins by increasing urine,” Erwine says. Our bodies don’t need fancy detox mechanisms—they just need to be supported with healthy daily habits that encourage optimal function. Hydration, while perhaps not the flashiest wellness tool, is one of the best things we can do for health.

So is lemon water before bed a good idea?

Given the role of lemon water in a healthy lifestyle, could there be any additional benefits to drinking water before bed with the addition of mighty citrus? According to Erwine, the answer is… it depends. “Adding lemon water at any time during the day is an easy way to boost water and vitamin C intake,” she says. Beyond that, the advantages to lemon water before bed will depend on the individual.

So, is it better to drink lemon water at night or morning?

Again, the choice is ultimately yours regarding whether you drink lemon water a.m. or p.m., as both can pose some benefits. In terms of your nightly routine, Erwine says that sipping on some warm lemon water before bed could have a nice calming, relaxing effect, which could help reduce stress and improve sleep. Additionally, for those who find lemon water to be a satisfying sipper for the evenings, it could serve as a healthier alternative to alcoholic beverages (hi, alc-free nightcap) or late night snacks that may keep you up at night (read: sugary foods which studies show can disrupt a good night's rest).

Who shouldn't drink lemon water as a bedtime drink?

On the flip side, it's also important to weigh the fact that drinking fluids right before bed could disrupt sleep by needing to use the bathroom in the middle of the night— so watch how much you imbibe if you want to avoid middle-of-the-night bathroom trips. Or, you can simply drink the beverage a little earlier than right before bed to ensure you're able to empty out your bladder before hitting the hay. Alternatively, Erwine notes that drinking fluids before sleeping can also exacerbate some underlying health concerns. “For those that suffer from heartburn and GERD, consuming lemon water before going to bed could cause symptoms,” she says.

Some of the best ways to drink lemon water at night

Like with anything, listening to your body will serve you well when considering adding lemon water to your nighttime ritual (or not). But like most things in life, it's best to start nice and slow, and consuming the drink in moderation. Try adding a glass or warm or cold lemon water before bed and see how your sleep, digestion, and overall health responds. As such, you can adjust your new nighttime routine accordingly. Perhaps you’ll even discover a new favorite way to wind down for the night.

How to make lemon water before bedtime

Of course, making lemon water is beyond simple (read: squeeze lemon in water... and done). However, there are a few ways to spruce up this easy recipe to reap even more health benefits. For starters, you shouldn't overlook lemon peel benefits (or worse, let them go to waste). In fact, lemon peels contain many surprising benefits, including calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. As such, you may want to consider adding a bit of zest into your lemon water concoction.

No lemon? No problem. That's because the benefits of lime water vs. lemon water aren't too dissimilar from one another. Although lemon juice does contain more vitamin C than lime juice, it also has more sugar than the latter. So, if the ultimate goal is simply boosting your hydration, either option will likely do the trick. (Especially if your stash of lemons has gone bad before you had a chance to be clued in our hot tips for how to store lemons.)

And by far the easiest way to squeeze in (pun intended) your daily dose of lemon water is by picking up a bottle of Lemon Perfect. Lemon Perfect is the flavored lemon water brand that makes tasty bottled lemon water beverages with zero added sugar and no artificial flavors or sweeteners. Swoon. Best part? This ready-to-drink bev is packed with loads of essential antioxidants, which can potentially help reduce stress and anxiety and boost energy and alertness. In fact, each serving has 100 percent of the recommended daily value of Vitamin C. Plus, Lemon Perfect comes in tons of delicious flavors to choose from, like Strawberry Passion Fruit and Pineapple Coconut.

TL;DR? Although lemon water isn't exactly liquid gold, it certainly can help you get one step closer to meeting your hydration goals.

A registered dietitian shares a guide to some of the most hydrating foods:

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
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  2. Gautam M, Agrawal M, Gautam M, Sharma P, Gautam AS, Gautam S. Role of antioxidants in generalised anxiety disorder and depression. Indian J Psychiatry. 2012 Jul;54(3):244-7. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.102424. PMID: 23226848; PMCID: PMC3512361.
  3. Tardy AL, Pouteau E, Marquez D, Yilmaz C, Scholey A. Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 16;12(1):228. doi: 10.3390/nu12010228. PMID: 31963141; PMCID: PMC7019700.

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