Importance of Hydrating and Drinking Water at Work

April 07, 2019

A woman drinks water at work
Stephanie Dwilson

When you have a busy day in the office, it can be easy to forget the importance of hydrating. Sometimes it's difficult to remember to make time to take care of yourself. Even something as simple as drinking water at work can feel impossible if you're really busy, but dehydration can actually hurt your productivity. So, when you're busy, it's very important to drink enough water. Here's how dehydration can hurt your productivity and what you can do about it.

Dehydration and Productivity

Studies show that attention to detail and even mood can be affected by your hydration level. For example, one study shows that mild dehydration can increase the frequency of driving errors during a monotonous driving task. Other studies show that dehydration can increase fatigue, decrease alertness and worsen your mood. Dehydration can even affect your ability to process information and focus, the National Hydration Council notes. If you have a busy day and need to be alert, it's best to make sure you're drinking water at work.

How Much Is Enough?

You might be surprised to learn that expert recommendations about water intake vary quite a bit. That "eight cups a day" mantra is actually a myth; many adults don't need that much water, and some need more. This is because the water you need depends on what you're eating — watermelon can hydrate you, for example — and the types of beverages you're drinking. The Mayo Clinic recommends 15.5 cups of fluid for men a day and 11.5 cups for women, but this includes fluids from food and all beverages. Meanwhile, Harvard Health has a much lower recommendation of four to six cups a day.

Good Housekeeping recommends the following fluid calculator based on weight:

  • Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2
  • Multiply that number by 40 if you're younger than 30; by 35 if you're between 30 and 55; or by 30 if you're older than 55.
  • Divide that number by 28.3
  • This is the number of ounces you should drink a day. Divide by eight for cups. (Note: exercise can increase this, and food might decrease this.)

BodyBuilding.com provides a water intake calculator based on your weight and workouts.

As you can see, the recommendations vary widely. In general, it's best to go by feel rather than hard-and-fast numbers, Mayo Clinic suggests. Healthy adults should drink when they're thirsty. If you're rarely thirsty and your urine is light yellow or colorless, then you're likely drinking enough. You can also try drinking water when you're hungry, because the body can mistake thirst for hunger. But don't overdo it: over-hydrating can carry its own health risks.

Life Hacks for Drinking Enough

How can you stop yourself from getting so focused that you forget to drink? Always keep water or a beverage at your desk and try to get into the habit of sipping while you work. You might need to set alerts on your phone to remind you to drink. You can even get apps that remind you to drink water, like one for Android called Water Drink Reminder. You can also make water taste better by adding a little lemon, orange, or other fruit juice flavor.

If you need to be productive at work, don't forget the importance of hydrating. You don't need to make it complicated — just keep beverages at your desk and drink when you're thirsty. If you're going to be extra busy, you might want to set up an app or other reminder on your phone. By staying hydrated, you'll be extra productive and get more accomplished on your to-do list.

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