Drink Enough Water? Even 1% Dehydration Could Be Slowing Your Mental Processes

Athletes have always stressed the importance of proper hydration for optimal physical performance.  Now there’s new evidence emerging that shows that a little dehydration can cause big problems for mental task performance too.  According to an article by Allison Aubrey recently published on NPR, the implications for mental performance are surprising.

What are the Costs of Dehydration?

University researchers estimated that when a group of women were dehydrated by 1%, they made 12% more mistakes while playing a moderately complicated card game. Card games are one thing, but it’s serious news to imagine those kinds of errors being applied to tasks that are more important and complex. There aren’t many jobs that come to mind where thinking a little bit faster wouldn’t be helpful, or critical.

How Easy is it to Become Dehydrated?

Scarily easy! According to this article, moderately hiking for one hour can dehydrate your body by 2%. That equates to losing about a liter of water. However, most people didn’t feel thirsty or think they were dehydrated while at this level. That means dehydration likely is affecting many of us who aren’t exercising who simply aren’t being mindful about drinking liquid frequently throughout the day. On the bright side of all of this, coffee is a viable source of water, so you coffee fans can comfortably enjoy your morning pick-me-up without worrying about it dehydrating you.

Read more about the effects of dehydration in the original article on NPR.org