If you haven’t been drinking enough water, a glass of water could be what you need to enhance your concentration. A 2012 study in The Journal of Nutrition found that mild dehydration can lead to reduced focus.
“When the brain detects even the smallest changes in physiology, it may begin operating at a suboptimal level to get your attention,” according to study coauthor Harris Lieberman, PhD. “Thirst is not the best measure of hydration, so a decrease in your ability to focus is an early warning signal that it’s time to drink up.”
Why? What’s water got to do with it?
Our brains are mostly water, about 75% water, and water plays an important role in your whole body’s health, including keeping your neurons (nerve cells) communicating properly.
Neurons are part of the nervous system that carry messages from the brain to other parts of the body, and your brain has about 100 billion neurons. Neurons send signals that allow your body to move, talk and function properly. Water makes the myelin sheaths (the covers on neurons that help conduct electricity) thicker and work better. (See reference.com.)
“Water gives the brain the electrical energy for all brain functions, including thought and memory processes.”
Your brain does not have a way to store water, so it’s important to drink throughout the day.
Here are 5 reasons to keep your brain hydrated:
When you’re hydrated, your neurons “fire” easier: they communicate faster with the rest of your body.
Hydration helps mood and improves feelings of high energy.
When properly hydrated, your cognition (conscious mental activities) may actually work faster!
When you’re dehydrated, you’re more likely to get a headache and feel moody and tired.
Dehydration can have a negative impact on short-term memory, and mental tasks may seem harder and require more effort.
Soda, diet soda and sugary drinks don’t have the same effect as water. But foods with a high water content, such as watermelon, cucumbers, grapes, tomatoes, oranges and celery, do.
Besides water, neurofeedback also increases myelin sheaths and helps your neurons fire better.
How much water you need depends on your body size, exercise levels and various factors. You’ve probably heard to drink 8 glasses of 8 ounces of water day (opinions vary on whether this rule is valid), but another good rule of thumb is to drink enough so that your urine stays very light yellow or clear.
A great way to increase your daily water intake is to start the morning off with a large glass of water first thing when you wake up. Add a slice of lemon, lime, grapefruit or ginger to liven it up. Keep a glass or bottle of water with you or in your sight during the day, and when you feel your concentration start to slump, drink up for your brain–and your body!
Learn more about how neurotherapy can help train your brain to work more efficiently, at any age. At our office in the Ogden, Utah area, we help clients every day improve through brain function through science-based neurofeedback.