Ron White, two-time USA Memory Champion; memory training expert; and memory keynote, would like to share with you how fatigue and dehydration can affect your memory and cognitive functions.

Our bodies need fluids, especially water. We all know drinking lots of water is good for us, but do we understand why? Your body is made up of 60% water. Your brain is made up of 80% water. If you were to let your body fluids get low, what effect do you think that would have on your brain and your ability to memorize?

A recent study of athletes found that 92% felt fatigued after limiting the amount of fluids and water-rich foods they took in for 15 hours. They also reported lapses in memory and difficulty in concentration when they were fatigued or low on fluids. That is why it is so important to make sure that when you exercise, and especially when you are sweating and working out, that you make sure to re-hydrate every hour or so to put fluids back into your body.

In all types of physical activity dehydration impairs both physical and mental performance, and a loss of as little as 2% can result in physical tiredness and reduction in functionality by as much as 10-20%. Fluid loss of 3-5% of your body weight reduces aerobic exercise performance noticeably and slows concentration, reaction time, judgment and decision-making. In boxers, dehydration increases the risk of brain injury.

Higher percentages of dehydration will result in poor concentration, headaches, fatigue, and lethargy, sleep impairment, dry skin, joint problems, sore eyes, digestive complaints, muscle cramping and illness. This certainly doesn’t set the stage for living life to the fullest!

A common misconception is that women and men should be drinking the same amount of fluid. “This is simply not true,” says Australia’s conditioning coach and coordinator for the Socceroos’ Football Federation. “Men should be drinking at least 10 glasses of fluid each day, while women are advised to consume at least eight. We need fluids in our bodies more than we do food, that’s why the human body can go longer without food than it can without liquid.” He added, “On a daily basis, adults lose around 4 per cent of their total body weight in water loss just in normal perspiration, urination and breathing alone. As men have a greater muscle mass than women, they expend more energy and water even when standing still.”

Don’t rely on feeling thirsty as a reminder to replace fluid lost through sweating. One of nature’s dirty tricks is that exercise suppresses thirst. The brain detects when the amount of fluid in the blood starts to fall and instructs us to drink by telling us we are thirsty. This is a slow process, however, and if your mind is telling you that you are thirsty more than likely you are already in the early stages of dehydration. If you normally drink water only when you feel thirsty, this is a sign that you’re not drinking enough.

How do I know if I’m suffering from the effects of dehydration?

  • Your urine should be a light color. If it is not light to clear, your are not drinking enough
  • Do you find you start yawning or getting sleepy during a meeting?
  • Do you get a headache while working?
  • Are you struggling to concentrate?
  • Do you lack energy?
  • Is your work stressful?
  • Do you get sore eyes from staring at a computer all day?
  • Do you work in an air-conditioned environment?

Think about how much water you are actually consuming each day. If you think that it might not be enough, simply try increasing your daily intake and see if it makes a difference.

By keeping your body hydrated you will be better able to focus and meet demanding schedules. You will feel more relaxed, better able to sleep, and better able to memorize and retain what you have learned.




Today Health – 9 Fast Fixes For Instant Energy:

FlyingSolo, Micro Business Community – Effects of dehydration, by Justin Zachan: Why you should drink more water:

Peak Performance – Dehydration in Sports:

eMed – Is Dehydration Driving Your Lack of Concentration?