The brain is a mysterious place. While there are a lot more questions than answers, there have been many studies examining the relationship between drinking water and brain functionality. While the research is young, the human brain is composed of over 70% water, making the potential benefits plentiful.
Think More Clearly – One of the symptoms of dehydration is a shrinkage in brain tissue, and any one of our human ancestors will tell you a smaller brain doesn’t mean a better one. When we haven’t been drinking water our brains need to do a lot more in order to function at normal levels, affecting cognitive performance and perceived mental effort.1 While the researchers say nothing is definitive, why take the risk?
Reduced Anxiety – Staying calm enough to use all that brainpower is essential to acing an exam or making a deadline. The link between drinking water and reduced stress is well documented and been shown to reduce cortisone levels.2 Plus, in one study, researchers found that college students who brought a water bottle to their exam scored higher than their waterless peers. While this doesn’t prove anything definitively, the researchers hypothesized that the water either helps overall cognitive function or works to reduce anxiety and assist the body in staying calm.3
Concentration and Alertness – Studies in adults suggest that restricting fluids enough to lose just 1 percent of body weight can decrease concentration and alertness. Furthermore, increasing fluid intake has been proven to boost alertness regardless of initial thirst beforehand.
Eliminate headaches and migraines – Your brain won’t be solving any advanced physics problems if it’s yelling at you in pain. And even if your work is a tad less complicated, a headache will throw a monkey wrench into any amount of productivity. Studies have shown drinking water not only keeps the headaches at bay but also serves as an effective cure. Headaches are one of the first symptoms of dehydration (as well as fatigue) and often just a little H2O will do the trick. Instead of taking your Tylenol with one glass of water, take it with two.
Attention and Memory – In studies of children 7 to 9 years old, researchers showed improvements in memory and attention between two groups where the variable element was just one drink of water.4 Because the majority of our brain, over 70 percent, is composed of water, hydration is critical to both body and mind.
Energy Level – Feeling tired is one of the first signs of dehydration and filling back up on H2O could zap the sleepiness.5 Measures of intelligence differ but everyone agrees motivation and drive are imperative to any successful accomplishment, be it an A on that Biology exam or a game changing goal at the state championship.
Mood – Staying hydrated is a proven regulator of mood and studies have shown that even a little bit of dehydration can bring you down.6 Mood is linked with energy as well as motivation, two factors key in determining whether you just get that project done and whether you get it done and enjoy yourself throughout the process.
So drinking more water and staying hydrated can keep you smart and happy. What was that someone once said? Water is life? Sounds about right to me.