How water enhances mental function
Every morning, the very first thing I do when I wake up is drink a large glass of water. Even if I'm not particularly thirsty, I'm convinced from all that I’ve studied about the value of drinking enough water that this one habit truly makes a difference.
Of all the tricks I've learnt for (trying) to keep my mind sharp, from getting enough sleep to doing some type of exercise most days, staying hydrated is definitely the one I follow most closely, partly because it's so easy.
Our brains depend on proper hydration to function optimally. Brain cells require a delicate balance between water and various elements to operate, and when you lose too much water, that balance is disrupted. Your brain cells lose efficiency.
Years of research have found that when we're parched, we have more difficulty keeping our attention focused. Dehydration can impair short-term memory function and the recall of long-term memory. The ability to perform mental arithmetic, like calculating whether or not you'll be late for work if you hit snooze for another 15 minutes, is compromised when your fluids are low.
Over the course of a typical twenty-four hour period, the longest spell most of us go without fluid intake is the six to eight hours we spend sleeping. Sleeping is hardly the kind of activity that you sweat over, but that doesn't mean you're not losing water during the night. With every somnolent breath, you expel moisture, and the cumulative effect of a night's sleep is to dry out.
It's for this reason that I habitually get a drink soon after I wake up. If you're like me, when you're simply reminded of the negative effects of dehydration while you’re working, your next thought is to head for the water cooler.