Thirsty? Here’s How Dehydration Affects Your Mood, Energy, and Thinking Ability
There’s so much controversy over how much water is enough water, what is the right amount of fluid ounces for your body weight, or for the diet you’re on. The truth is, everyone’s body is built differently, and we all have different individual needs. We can all relate, though, every one of us requires a sufficient amount of water to function properly. With our bodies ranging from 45-75% water, you would think we evolved from fish.
Most people know that dehydration can cause problems like dizziness and confusion, but what you may not know is that even mild dehydration can have a significant impact on your mood, energy, and thinking ability. In a smaller 2014 study, researchers demonstrated how increasing or decreasing water intake altered the mood in individuals with different water consumption habits. They found that individuals who usually drink a sufficient amount of water felt more restless and less content when their water intake dropped.
However, these results were not so shocking, as we all know how drained our bodies feel when we lack enough water. It has become common knowledge that water is crucial to not only our bodies, but also our brains. We hear it all the time, and we do our best to keep up. Unfortunately, though, we sometimes neglect ourselves, so we want to go over the importance of recognizing these signs and how to avoid them in the future.
So, if you’re feeling a little out of sorts and want to blame it on the weather, dehydration may actually be your culprit. The next time you start to feel grumpy or low on energy, drink a glass of water and see if your mood improves. And if you’re having trouble thinking clearly, try drinking a bit more water than usual and see if that makes a difference. In most cases, it will!
Read The Signs
Most of us know and can recognize the initial signs of dehydration. The dry mouth, the excessive sweating, cramping, fatigue. What we may be overlooking though, can lead to far worse symptoms. It’s somewhat normal for us to neglect our bodies once in a while, when we’re busy or on vacation or whatever the excuse may be, but continuing to ignore these problems can lead to permanent side effects, that can’t be reversed if they’ve been overlooked for too long.
Going days without ensuring you have enough water can begin to take its toll on your body. You’ll see the symptoms slowly creep up, but internally it’s already farther along. By the time you begin seeing symptoms it’s already too late, so hurry up and drink!
If you notice your skin is always dry, your urine is never clear, or you’re having trouble concentrating, you could be suffering from ongoing dehydration. It goes way beyond just how you feel in the moment. Did you drink enough water yesterday? Or this week? Your body is letting you know that you didn’t.
Being dehydrated, even just a little, can lead to many mood shifting issues. Everyone’s body handles these things differently, but overall, you’ll begin to see the signs if you keep neglecting yourself. You may notice that you’re always tired, how things that used to come easily are now forcing you to exert more energy, or how you feel sluggish once you’ve completed normal everyday tasks.
You may notice your energy levels suffering when you need to do yard work or entertain the kids, things that force you to be present, and sometimes outdoors. You may notice you have less patience for these tasks or find yourself avoiding them all together out of annoyance. Also, feeling higher levels of anxiety or depression is common. This is because your body is struggling to maintain its levels of dopamine and serotonin, which can also lead to nervousness or random twitching.
When it comes to shifts in your mood, be sure, you recognize them when they occur. It can be hard to place where they stemmed from, whether you’re irritable because your boss was micromanaging you today, your kid’s football coach didn’t let him play in today’s game, or you were out of your favorite frozen dinner at the grocery store. These are all valid reasons to be extra annoyed, but don’t discredit the fact that you might be on edge due to a lack of hydration.
Lack Of Energy
Dehydration taps into your brain’s energy, which is in charge of many of the functions your brain and body need to keep going. When this gets to be too much, your brain will literally shut down. In order to avoid causing permanent damage, learn to recognize when your thinking seems hazy, or when you aren’t as sharp as you usually feel.
Your body may feel extra weak, like you can’t complete normal tasks, or you’re sluggish while doing so, even if it’s something your body is used to. Becoming dizzy or even nauseous often happens as well, especially when you’re overly dehydrated. This happens when your body doesn’t have enough fluids to distribute to other parts of your body, and it could result in heat exhaustion. Feeling slumped is one of the first signs of dehydration, so if you find yourself without your usual spunk, drink a cup!
Lacking energy is one of the first signs of dehydration, but most people chalk it up to lack of sleep or just having an ‘off day.’ Unfortunately, ignoring these warning signs can lead to much bigger problems, ones you can’t sleep off, although it’ll make you feel like that’s just what you need. If this continues, you may even begin to feel chronically tired day after day and develop headaches over time. You know that feeling when you get up too fast and you see stars? Those are the things we’re trying to get you to recognize before they happen or before they spiral into bigger issues.
Your brain is like a sponge, and you’ve seen what a sponge looks like when it’s dried out, right? Picture your brain doing the same thing. Using a dried-out sponge is virtually useless, much like expecting your brain to function properly while lacking hydration is silly.
Your brain is an exceptional organ. It provides us with more than we ever give it credit for, but it can’t maintain that energy all on its own. In order to keep your brain healthy and functioning properly, you need to feed it the right things. A healthy diet is key, but your water intake is still the absolute most important factor in keeping your brain functioning accordingly.
It only takes a 2% decrease in brain hydration to see these adverse effects. When your brain is thirsty, it lets you know, kind of a warning sign. You know, the ones you’ve been ignoring. Once you’re aware of these signs, you can take action immediately. It’s always better late than never when it comes to hydrating, but don’t wait too long or some of those effects may last longer than you anticipated.
If dehydration goes untreated it could result in ‘brain fog’ or mental clarity. You could even begin to suffer from short-term memory loss and may even have trouble with critical thinking. Your ability to problem solves and think clearly and efficiently may also be compromised. For example, try helping your child with their math homework while you’re feeling this way and notice how basic knowledge has completely left your brain. Having a cloudy mind is just the beginning, if this continues, you could become delusional and delirious.
Ignoring your body’s cries for help can lead to permanent damage. Staying hydrated can help you avoid heat exhaustion and heat cramps. This is especially important if you work outside or plan on doing outdoor activities, like hiking or sports, especially during the summer months. Some other ongoing problems dehydration may cause are low blood volume, heatstroke, and seizures due to a lack of electrolytes. Some even worse case scenarios include kidney failure and even going into a coma.
So, if you begin to feel woozy, weak, or like a dried-out sponge, douse yourself in water, drink as much as you can, but also avoid extra cold water in these situations. Room temperature water is recommended due to its easy digestion, whereas ice cold water can sometimes shock your system if it has become dehydrated for an extended period of time. When you feel the effects of dehydration kicking in, grab yourself a drink and be sure to keep up with it in the following days. It’s much easier to maintain your body’s desired amount of water than to try to replenish it.