Hydration Levels and Productivity

For years you have been told to drink plenty of water and that it is important to stay hydrated. Maybe you remember being told to drink eight 8-oz glasses of water a day. Or maybe to drink half of your body weight in ounces. Either way, you probably never would have imagined that your hydration levels could affect your productivity at work.

A good rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight (in pounds) in ounces. Or, according to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men need about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day and women need about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day. This includes fluids that come from foods and beverages. About 20 percent of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks.

These numbers may vary depending on activity level, pregnancy, medical conditions, or other factors. But this serves as a general recommendation.

So, are you hitting these goals? If not, you may notice some signs of dehydration, but what you may not realize is the impact it has on your productivity at work.

The more dehydrated someone becomes, the more their capacity to work actually decreases. Research has shown that being 1% dehydrated can result in a decrease in work productivity by 12%. So, as a person becomes more and more hydrated they will become less and less productive. By just being 3-4% dehydrated, you can actually hinder your work performance and productivity anywhere from 25-50%! As a dehydrated employee, you may experience a decrease in concentration and alertness, a decrease in cognitive abilities, and slower reaction times.

Your body actually goes through physiological changes from dehydration that can affect your ability to work. Your heart rate and body temperature increase, decreasing your mental ability to work consistently. Did you know that your brain is 75% water! We need to keep this, and all of our other vital body parts happy and hydrated to be able to work and be our best.

As a bonus, staying hydrated will decrease your chances of getting a headache or migraine, especially on those work days that require a lot more screen time than usual. You can also improve your overall health and wellness by staying hydrated as it boosts your metabolism, helps you to avoid constipation, and regulates your mood.

If you are dehydrated, you may not notice your decrease in performance right away.

Other warning signs include:

  • Dry mouth or skin;
  • Thirst;
  • Lightheadedness;
  • Headaches; and
  • Decreased trips to the bathroom.

To improve your hydration while working from home, keep a large water bottle in your line of sight. Some water bottles these days can hold well over the recommended amounts of water needed per day to keep anyone hydrated.

While those bottles may seem helpful, you do not necessarily need one of those as water can come from other beverages and foods. In fact, it is best to not only get your water intake from plain water itself. Replenishing your hydration levels through use of electrolytes, such as Gatorade or PowerAde, is also helpful because as we lose water we also lose essential minerals and salt. If we fail to replenish our electrolytes we may run into other issues on top of not drinking enough water.

You may do best by setting a timer to go off every hour you are working to ensure you drank close to 8 ounces of water per hour to stay hydrated.

If you get tired of drinking plain water, try infusing your water with fruits, mint, cucumber, or other tasty and healthy additives.

If you can’t figure out why you are so tired, or perhaps why you are working slower than normal, take a look at your hydration. Keep track of how much water you are drinking and factor in other foods and beverages that also have water content. If you are below the recommendations, try any of the suggestions above.

Jan 10, 2021

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