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Dehydrated? It May Soon Weigh on Your Mental Performance

dehydration, mental performance, health researchAre you thirsty? Before you answer yes or no, take a moment to think about how your cognitive abilities have been as of late. Has your mind been feeling sluggish? As it turns out, there may be a link between the two things.

Mindy Millard-Stafford, director of the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at Georgia Institute of Technology, recently wanted to look into how dehydration and mental abilities are potentially connected. She recently published an analysis of 33 studies and drew her conclusions, which seem to indicate that dehydration is linked to poor mental performance.

“We find that when people are mildly dehydrated they really don’t do as well on tasks that require complex processing or on tasks that require a lot of their attention,” she told NPR (Aubrey, 2018).

But this isn’t the first study to look at the potential connection. One recent study also looked at a group of young, healthy, active women who agreed to take a series of cognitive tests and also agreed to restrict their fluid intake to no more than six ounces throughout one day (Stachenfeld, 2018).

During the experiment, the women were asked to play a card game with constantly changing rules. The researchers found that they had 12 percent more total errors in the game than when they were fully hydrated.

How Much Water Does the Average Person Need?

There is no actual daily requirement for water intake for humans, but there are some general recommendations. A panel of scholars from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine once suggested that women should consume about 91 ounces of total water per day, while men should consume 125 ounces. However, this all varies according to body weight and muscle mass.

How Can I Stay Hydrated During the Day?

The easiest way to stay fully hydrated during the day is to continuously drink water. Think about having a water bottle on hand with you throughout the day that you can regularly fill to prevent dehydration.

It’s also important to remember to drink water during critical moments of the day, such as before and after a workout, and when you wake up in the morning. Taking these small steps into account can help you stay hydrated and healthy, and it just might help you solve your next crossword puzzle.


Aubrey, Allison. “Off Your Mental Game? You Could Be Mildly Dehydrated.” NPR. Retrieved July 30, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/07/30/632480321/off-your-mental-game-you-could-be-mildly-dehydrated.

Stachenfeld, Nina. Leone, CA. Mitchell, ES. Freese, E. Harkness, L. “Water intake reverses dehydration associated impaired executive function in healthy young women.” NCBI. Retrieved July 30, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Water+Intake+Reverses+Dehydration+Executive+Function

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