The serious heat-wave we have been experiencing over the last month or so means June 2017 is looking likely to be the hottest June in over forty years. We all know that staying hydrated in hot weather is pretty sound advice, but have you ever considered how staying hydrated can actually help your brain? Essentially, what are the psychological benefits of drinking water?
Coffee lovers around the country should rejoice. The British Nutrition Foundation have stated that the recommended amount of drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day can include a few cups of tea or coffee. So here is how having regular drinks break can really help you…
Drinking Water Improves Memory and Attention
A recent experiment tested the impact that drinking water has on the attention and memory. The researchers found that having additional drinks of water significantly improves your ability to focus, as well as being able to retain and recall more information. This is because our brains are largely made up of water and require it to run efficiently. If you wait until your thirsty, it is probably too late, as recent studies suggest that even mild dehydration can make our brains work up to 14% slower.
Drinking Water Improves Decision Making
What impact does heat exposure and dehydration have on cognitive performance, particularly decision making? This study found that participants performed significantly worse on psychological tests after a period of heat and exercise (which induced dehydration). They found that performance decreased both half an hour and two hours later. This difference only subsided after 3.5 hours. These findings suggests that it is important to drink water regularly in the morning, as if not, it can still affect you later in the afternoon.
Drinking Water Improves How You Feel
In a study on college sports team, researchers found that athletes who were thirsty were far more likely to report being in a negative mood. Indeed, another study confirmed these findings by noting that dehydrated people are far more likely to feel sluggish and less alert than their well hydrated peers. The same study also reported that dehydrated people were more likely to report tasks as requiring more concentration and effort, with these results more pronounced for females than males (although the researchers didn’t speculate as to why this may be the case).
Drinking Water Improves Your Performance Under Pressure
How we feel impacts on how we perform, so it is no surprise to see a separate study find that those who drink water in an exam, receive an average boost of 5%, with some getting a 10% increase compared to their peers of similar ability who did not.
One of the side-effects of being stressed under pressure is having a dry mouth. If this happens to nervous people under pressure, it can create a vicious cycle; being aware of their dry mouth makes them realise how stressed they are, making their mouth even drier. Having a sip of water can help keep the physiological signatures of nerves at bay, freeing up space and energy to focus on the task at hand.
Staying hydrated and drinking water regularly in the heat allows busy people to deliver their best when it matters the most. It allows you to demonstrate your knowledge, as staying hydrated is associated with an increased ability to recall information, to stay focused on the task at hand, to feel alert and to help boost mood. Don’t wait until you are thirsty or sweating. Regular short sips at water can keep even mild dehydration at bay, which will ensure you can not only survive in this heat-wave, but thrive in it as well.
Written by: Bradley and Edward, the authors behind ‘Release Your Inner Drive’
Release your Inner Drive is available now on Amazon.co.uk. The authors Bradley Busch and Edward Watson are experienced coaches who have worked with Premier League footballers and elite athletes who achieved medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016, as well as over 200 schools. www.innerdrive.co.uk