Drink water! What dehydration does to your mind

We all know water is good for us, and it’s certainly easy to get hold of it, but we don’t often stop to think about how beneficial it can be, not just for our physical health, but for our minds too.

Recent research shows that dehydration not only affects our physical wellbeing, but also our mood, and our ability to think clearly.

Studies carried out at the University of Connecticut in 2012 showed that even mild dehydration – approximately 1.5% below normal body water levels – caused participant to experience fatigue, tension and anxiety, and difficulties when working on mental tasks. The adverse effects on mood were particularly prominent in women, both at rest and during exercise.

Mild dehydration can be as little as 500ml less than you need – the equivalent of one small bottle of water. Even this small amount can make a big difference.

They also found that staying hydrated is as important for those who work in an office sitting down as it is for those who are physically active. Negative effects of dehydration are experienced whether one is resting or walking on a treadmill for 40 minutes.

So make sure you drink enough water during the day. It’s an easy and effective way to help prevent low moods, tension and poor mental ability. Experts recommend drinking 2 litres, or 8 standard glasses, of water a day, to stay hydrated and keep yourself mentally effective (though bear in mind you will also get water from the food you eat too). So drink more water! It’s free!

Learn more about your mind in our illustrated guides, The Mind Manual and A Mind for Business, published by Hamlyn Press and Pearson/FT.