I've been having more and more problems with salt for a few years, especially late before I'm about to sleep. Eating out, beers at a pub with the associated salty nuts and food or a barbeque at home will render a night of bad sleep, nightmares and constipation the next day. Cutting down on salt is an obvious answer and I cook most meals from scratch with no or very little salt, bake my own bread (most recipes calls for 2 % salt, I find it salty enough at 0.5 %) but many ingredients come very salty as is, cheese and soy sauce to name a few which are too much work to make from scratch. Cooking myself usually solves the problem most of the time but eating out can't be avoided sometimes.

I can reduce the problem by drinking plenty of water before going to bed, but I will wake up to pee in the middle of the night and the urine is very diluted so I assume I drank more water than needed to keep the salt balance (I've read 0.6 % blood salt concentration), but I can still very much feel the effect.

Otherwise I'm slightly overweight but do cardio for 6-9 hours per week (cycling, skiing or running) so I'm definitely working on it and my stamina is better than most people my age, have no trouble sleeping and almost never constipated.

I'm thinking about seeing a professional about this, but what should I ask? What should I check up before to make it meaningful?

UPDATE: One and a half years since I posted this. Did see a physician who did take the time to do the blood work. Salt balance as in sodium to potassium balance was normal as was the overall salinity. He recommended me to keep eating less than 5 grams of salt per day. Still possible if I keep baking my own bread and cooking all meals from scratch. But still hell to pay if invited over for dinner or go out.

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    You don't need to ask anything, nor do you need to check anything to make it meaningful. All you have to do is go to a doctor and describe what you just described to us. That's it. You don't need to do anything else.
    – Carey Gregory
    Jun 24, 2016 at 4:01

1 Answer 1


The effect of salt consumption has been assessed in several studies (for a review: Cappuccio FP. Cardiovascular and other effects of salt consumption. Kidney International Supplements. 2013;3(4):312-315. doi:10.1038/kisup.2013.65.) Dietary salt intake has been linked to several diseases, more frequently cardiovascular diseases but also kidney stones and bone metabolism.

According to its last guidance, the WHO recommends max 5 grams of salt per day (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2013/salt_potassium_20130131/en/) Nowadays it is quite simple to exceed these recommendations through the consumption of processed foods. While obviously you try to cook yourself, be aware that other processed foods such as snack foods, soy sauce and cheese contain high content of salt.

A recent interesting study has shown that dietary salt can influence postprandial plasma sodium concentration (in medicine, sodium plasma concentration expressed in mmol/L is the preferred measure for expressing the amount of sodium in blood) and influence blood pressure (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22048126). While the symptoms you describe are difficult to categorise, and seeing your family physician probably makes sense, some of the symptoms might be due for example to increased blood pressure. Checking your blood pressure is certainly relevant.

In your story, I note that your symptoms often arise after having had beers at the pub. Bear in mind, that alcohol consumption can impact on your sleep quality as suggested by a literature review conducted among 107 articles (Stein MD, Friedmann PD. Disturbed Sleep and Its Relationship to Alcohol Use. Substance abuse : official publication of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse. 2005;26(1):1-13.)

Seeking a professional is certainly a good idea, as according to the US preventive services task force, every adult aged 18 years or older should have their BP measured at least once and rescreened every 3 to 5 years (http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/RecommendationStatementFinal/high-blood-pressure-in-adults-screening). Whether your blood electrolytes concentration need to be measured or other investigations undertaken, should be decided by your family doctor.

  • Thank you! Not living in the US, the family doctor or even physician situation is different. We have socialized medicine here so brain surgery and heart transplants are the same cost as a checkup but the downside is that you don't have a family doctor so you will see some random doctor who may or may not want to get to the bottom of whatever problem you are having. Mine is most likely not life threatening not imparing my ability to work so not the highest priority. This is when you need to have something specific to go on and push for, hence my original question.
    – winny
    Jun 25, 2016 at 21:05
  • Oh! And pub/alcohol was just an example where salty food is the only thing available. Caffeine will delay my sleep but once asleep, no problem and no nightmares. Alcohol makes me sleepy and I have not noticed anything. Spicy food is also OK. Some complain about bad sleep but there also I haven't noticed anything. Yesterday was mid summer festival here so pickled herring was almost mandatory and I loooove pickled herring (salty by nature). Drank plenty of water in the warm sun and before bed but sure enough, hostage situation and shootings throughout the night in my dreams :-(
    – winny
    Jun 25, 2016 at 21:11

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