Ever have one of those days where you just can’t focus on anything? If you’re crawling through your work day and your brain just doesn’t feel as sharp as it should, water might be the answer. That advice comes from a new research effort that looked at the results of 33 different studies related to mental acuity and dehydration, and there’s some very solid evidence that the two are linked.
It’s already widely known that severe dehydration causes all kinds of terrible things to happen with the human body, including both mental and physical side effects, but what’s particularly significant about this new work is that it demonstrates that even a little dehydration can cause cognition problems.
In the summer months, when the sun is baking us and the heat is sapping moisture out of our skin, mild dehydration can occur rapidly. A dehydration level of up to two percent can happen in just half an hour if you’re exercising or doing some kind of physical work in the summer heat, and that may be enough to cause your mental faculties to suffer.
This new study compiled the data from 33 other studies to draw a comprehensive picture of how dehydration can affect the human brain, and the results were striking. In one test designed as a card game, volunteers who were mildly dehydrated made 12 percent more errors than the control group who was properly hydrated. Those same volunteers performed much better after their hydration levels were brought back up to normal.
No matter what kind of a job you work, making 12 percent more mistake because your mind is fuzzy will be incredibly frustrating. If you feel like your brain isn’t running on all cylinders it might be time to down a bit of water, but exactly how much you need is still a topic of debate among medical professionals.
There’s no firm verdict on an exact amount, as it can vary greatly from person to person, but the color of your urine is usually a reliable indicator. Generally speaking, the lighter colored your pee is the better hydrated you are. You don’t necessarily need to strive for crystal clear urine, and a stream with just a hint of yellow usually means you’re drinking enough water.