Even Slight Dehydration Can Affect Mood, Energy, and Cognition

As August burns the last of summer heat, it’s important to remember how quickly we can become dehydrated from simple perspiration and everyday activities.

Two separate studies conducted by The University of Connecticut found that even mild dehydration can affect concentration and impair our normal mental acuity. Both female and male subjects experienced decreased levels of mental focus and memory with just limited dehydration (1.5% dehydration measure). Women reported more intensive effects. Additionally, energy levels and a bad mood can come on quickly from even low levels of dehydration.  Fatigue, tension and anxiety were some of the effects experienced by dehydrated male subjects in the study.

If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated

As you may know, thirst is not a good indication of when to drink water as it is only experienced at a level of 1-2% existing dehydration, and thus a point where we are already affected by dehydration, rather than preventing it.

Feeling moody or difficulty concentrating?  Grab a glass of water

If you’re having trouble concentrating, or maybe can’t get back into work after lunch, you may want to grab a large glass of water before you blame carbs, talkative coworkers or other distractions.  Your lunchtime outing in higher temperatures could be enough to affect your hydration level and you can feel the effects for hours, right on through to a restless night sleep. More intensive dehydration affects can be heart palpitations, and longer term contribute to inflammation in the body.


Tips for getting in more water

When you fill up your glass / water bottle, drink it right there

When filling up your water glass or water bottle, take a few big glugs right then and there, then refill your container to the top. It may sound obvious but this habit means you’ll get about 25%-50% more water if you make a point of finishing the water in your container back at your desk, in the car or elsewhere.

Use a schedule, even a timer

You have plenty of meeting timers, why not set a couple to do something good for yourself. Set a timer to drink 8 ounces of water. You can choose not to, if you feel its unnecessary when the time goes off, but it’s a good reminder.

Use a water tracker for 30 days

Sites such as My Fitness Pal and Sparkpeople which both have apps or use one of the hundreds of other apps available for ios or android phones and watches. This sets up a good habit, and when combined with a tool that perhaps tracks things like exercise or steps, you can see when you might want to bump things up.

Don’t rely on flavored water, or sparkling water

Since there’s no water marketing council, we’ll tell you – Water is the best! If you think of hydration as something bottled and flavored, you’ll ind plenty of convenience issues with not getting enough water. Drink what you like AFTER getting in your plain water. Nothing is better for you than plain water, and you’ll never have to guess about artificial anything, sourcing, plastic grades, recycling or the effects of carbonation – there’s some debate.

Drink a glass of water before each meal

This was touted as a diet trick long ago, but we’re never going to advocating water over eating. It’s just a good reminder that when you’re going to eat a meal, fit in a glass of water as a habit.

Enjoy afternoon teatime

Americans seemed to have shunned a consistent afternoon break, but we are ALL IN FAVOR. Somewhere mid-afternoon, 2-3 pm based on your schedule, make a point of taking a full break for 20 minutes. Go and get tea, or water, but make it a small occasion, the little walk will provide some additional oxygen a little stretch and you’ll get hydration. This is a formula for starting a productive afternoon. Try to stave off a coffee drink. The caffeine will likely affect your sleep. While a 1928 study claiming caffeine causes dehydration has been debunked, our habits of putting lots of extra things (sugar, syrup, cream) in our coffee can have additional negative affects on our energy and concentration. We’re going to point back to water and / or tea (light on the sugar) as the best option.

Eat more juicy fruit

Almost all fruit is full of water and fiber. Often the water in fruits like melon, oranges, grapefruits, or berries also stays in our system longer, providing better hydration. When hopping off a long flight, our best advice is to immediately have a big bowl of watermelon, it gives you energy, it’s refreshing and can help with the effects of “slow digestion” that happen with air travel.


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