Hot lemon water might be your citric savior.

For years, we’ve been listening to self-proclaimed health fanatics talk about their masochistic habits. Sh*t like fasting, juice cleanses, and adding weird tiny seeds and supplements to all of your smoothies — healthy for some, sure, but reserved for the truly hardcore.

While these habits may seem too extreme to the average bear looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle, there’s something to be said for the more moderate, easily adaptable fixes that healthy, active people employ to maintain their status quo. And there’s no better place to start than water.

Adding more water to your diet is the most basic and accessible change you can make in your day-to-day routine. Even if you’re one of those “I don’t like the taste of water” types, the best thing about water — besides it being free and widely available — is that you can infuse it with yummy fruits to spice things up.

This is where the almighty lemon comes in. Water with lemon is a cult classic, but recent variations like hot lemon water have been put on blast as a better choice, particularly at night.

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When life gives you lemons, squeeze them into water and drink them at night.

In a 2015 paper, scientists described citrus fruits, specifically lemons, as a “treasure trove” for health benefits, highlighting the following health effects:

(The study may not have used these exact words, but we’re really cool, so there.)

For good measure, citrus fruits, like the humble lemon, are packed to the pith with organic compounds like flavonoids and alkaloids, which can offer sublime wellness bonuses (grooooooan).

Lemon water could help tackle painful kidney stones that form from mineral buildup. Typical kidney stones form from calcium oxalate and docs treat them with citrate. Guess what contains lots of citrates? Yep. Citrus fruits, like lemon, can up the levels of citrate in your pee, which helps your bod counter kidney stones.

Plus, drinking more water also helps. (Although, let’s be real, very few things are going to help you when that stone passes through your pee-pee tunnel. You’ll likely need to be in hospital for that. Because hurts so frickin’ much.)

Lemon water can work its magic no matter the time of day. However, when you glug or sip it at night before bed, lemons can work overtime, enhancing the positive outcomes. Why? Because they’re acting on a body at rest and therefore not competing for airtime in your system.

Besides the slew of beneficial effects, lemons are also one of the best sources of vitamin C. While it’s no secret that vitamin C helps support the immune system, research shows that vitamin C may also act alongside conventional treatments to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.

By adding some fresh lemon juice to hot water and sipping it before bed, you may well feel the stress lift from your shoulders and reap benefits like a turbo-powered immune system, and healthier skin and hair.

While hot lemon water before bed can offer many benefits, there may be some inadvertent drawbacks to the elixir.

In a 2020 study, researchers discovered just how acidic lemons really are. Containing over five types of acid, it would be an understatement to say that lemons pack a punch. In this case, you’re getting punched in the teeth, gut, and bladder. It’s like kissing the alien from “Alien.”

The high levels of acid in lemons can harm tooth enamel. If you’re drinking lemon juice right before bed, make sure you brush your teeth afterward to protect the enamel from harmful acids. (Although that combo of lemon flavor and minty toothpasteblech.)

Speaking of acid, consuming high levels of acidic juice and lying in bed could be a one-way ticket to Heartburn City. If you’re prone to heartburn and indigestion, you might wanna switch drinking hot lemon water to your morning routine instead.

And then there’s the matter of your bladder. It goes without saying that drinking anything and going right to bed will most likely have you waking up in the night to pee.

While there’s some debate over the lemon’s diuretic properties (there’s no research to support lemon as a diuretic), hot lemon water is still water. Knocking back lemon juice before bedtime may increase your need to pee, which gets between you and your good pal Sleep.

For those of you who are worried about your teeth, are prone to heartburn, and hate waking up at night to go to the bathroom, drinking hot lemon water before bed may not be your bag. It’s more lemoff than lemon.

Lemons may seem like the star of the show here, but let’s not forget that none of this happens without water.

It’s well-known that increasing your water intake, in general, can lead to its own plethora of benefits. But does timing affect its health benefits?

Well, evidence on a “best time” to drink water is pretty limited, according to a 2019 review. There are different strategies as to when you should drink water. For example:

  • 30 minutes before a meal, while you’re eating a meal, and 30 minutes after a meal — but that’s it for the day
  • just after you get out of bed in the morning
  • before a workout, while you’re exercising, and after
  • before a bath
  • just before going to sleep

Supposedly, drinking water at the “right” time can help you alleviate stomach pain, the urge to eat too much, tiredness, and possibly even heart attack and stroke. Buuuuuut let’s be real — there’s not a lot of science backing the existence of a “right” time to drink water.

So just get as much H2O as you can, when you can, and if you’re prone to nighttime pee urges, avoid it before you go to bed.

How *much* lemon water should you drink, though?

The most important thing to remember in all this is to stay hydrated. The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines don’t recommend a specific amount of water to drink every day (the amount of water you need in chilly Alaska isn’t going to be the same as you’d need in midsummer Houston, for example). But there’s no upper limit — so drink as much as you can.

The guidelines do recommend plain over flavored water, though. So while lemon water might be fine to drink before bed for some people, don’t make every single glass a hit of citric loveliness.

Staying well-hydrated may reward you with radiant skin, healthy weight management, and a robust immune system.

Well, lemons and water, duh.

The precise goodies you’ll get from your lemon water depend on how strong you make it and the type of lemon you use. Yep, there are different kinds!

Here’s what you can expect to find in the juice of one 48-gram (g) squeezed lemon.

NutrientAmount
calories10.6 kcal
protein0.168 grams (g)
fat0.115 g
carbs3.31 g
vitamin C18.6 milligrams (mg)
folate9.6 micrograms (mcg)
potassium49.4 mg

Whichever type you choose, lemons are packed with vitamin C. You need around 90 mg each day, meaning that each of these little yellow fruits provides about 21 percent of your daily requirements.

Overall, lemons don’t pack a whole bunch of many other nutrients. You won’t find much in the way of protein or fat. The carbs are mainly fiber and sugars like glucose and fructose — and the juice really doesn’t provide much fiber.

Although it seems like lemon hasn’t got a lot going on nutrition-wise, lemon water is a low calorie, low sugar boost to your hydration and vitamin C intake.

Hot lemon water is healthy and packs a vitamin C punch. Besides, drinking water in all its guises (except toilet water) is a good idea.

Will chugging hot lemon water before bed help you shed pounds and turn around your life? Hmm. Not sure on that one.

But it won’t do you any harm. That is, unless you’ve got sensitive teeth, heartburn, and you loathe nocturnal visits to the privy. If you’re interested in staying hydrated and getting in your daily dose of vitamin C, then lemon water is simply the zest.