We think drinking the right amount is pretty important - when you’re talking about drinking water that is.
Usually we like to encourage people to use less water in their businesses - it cuts costs and is good for the environment. But when it comes to drinking water, we definitely think more is much better.
That’s because drinking water at work is great for productivity, health and wellbeing and here’s why.
Our brains are 85% water and our bodies 50 – 75%, depending on age and gender, which is why if we’re not properly hydrated and down on our body’s reserves it can affect how we feel and perform, mentally and physically.
So what difference does drinking enough water make to us at work?
Water is the ultimate brain food. Keeping your brain topped up means a better attention span and keeps you alert and focussed throughout the day.
Take driving for example, which forms part of many peoples working day. Research by Loughborough University found that driving while dehydrated is just as dangerous as driving when you’re over the limit with alcohol. Their study found that drivers who consumed only 25ml of water an hour made more than double the mistakes and about the same amount as those at the drink/drive limit, compared to drivers who were hydrated by drinking 200ml of water an hour.
Flagging by lunchtime and feeling fatigued is often your body’s way of telling you that it needs hydrating. This is especially important if your work involves any sort of physical activity. Even sitting at a desk for eight hours a day requires a hydrated, energised, body. Don’t let yourself burn out by lunch time!
Dehydration can negatively affect your mood, causing confusion, tension, and irritability. Research has shown that if your hydration levels are down by as little as 2%* of your body weight it can influence your mood and mental performance. Drinking enough water to look after your body and brain helps with calmer and more positive thinking – and who doesn’t get more work done when they’re in a good mood?
Drinking water helps to flush the toxins out of your system. If your immune system has less toxins in your body, it’s free and ready to fight unwanted viruses and bacteria. This means it’s working harder and more effectively on those bugs that can keep you off work.
Dehydration is not necessarily the sole cause of stress or feeling anxious, but it can impact your mental health as much as your physical health.
Did you know being even mildly dehydrated can add to any stress you’re already experiencing? One reason is because the chemical Cortisol is triggered by the stress response. Cortisol gives you the energy to handle stress or fear, as part of our fight-or-flight instinct. But too much of it isn’t a good thing as it can lead, at worst, to depression and mental illness. Don’t worry though, it’s easy to keep the chemicals in your brain balanced and that’s by drinking enough water.
A headache is often the tell-tale sign that alerts us to being dehydrated. The trouble is, we usually don’t feel thirsty or get a headache until our bodies are well on the way to being dehydrated and the negative effects of this are already underway. Drinking consistently throughout the day can prevent your body from getting to this point, enabling you to work better, for longer.
When you’re home from work it’s important to keep up those water levels. Your body does most of its re-energising while you sleep. Drinking water before you go to bed lets your body regain its balance. You’ll relax better and refresh your systems overnight. Then in the morning you wake up feeling refreshed, and ready for the day ahead.
So turn on the tap, grab a glass of water and keep hydrated. And remember not to leave the tap dripping - because we don’t want you to waste any water.
*University of East London research 2013
*National Hydration council