Zip Experiment 3 - Water focuses the mind
24 Jul 2015
Sports scientists have long known that water is essential in all aspects of physical performance. A dehydrated athlete who drinks just 200 mils of water can expect to have their physical powers boosted by as much as 20%, but what about their brain power? Can water make us more alert, and better able to concentrate?In the last five years there has been an explosion in new research investigating the cognitive benefits of water consumption. It’s been suggested that water can improve everything from; short term memory, to planning, problem solving, and hand-eye co-ordination.
The most compelling evidence is for the affect of dehydration on our alertness and ability to concentrate. In trial after trail it’s been shown that being dehydrated by just one percent, as measured by your body weight, can make you less vigilante and more prone to error in a range of tasks.
But there is more. One remarkable study, conducted with 447 students in the United Kingdom, showed that those who took water into exams did up to 10% better on test scores. That’s the difference between a first… and second-class honors degree.
Just why water has this affect on exam results is unclear. It could be that sipping water relieves stress. It might also keep the pangs of thirst and hunger from taking up valuable brainpower. There is also evidence suggesting that water triggers our sympathetic - fight or flight - nervous system, which raises alertness, blood pressure and energy expenditure.
So next time you have to be alert and focus, don’t just meditate to the sights and sounds of water as self help gurus suggest, try drinking the stuff instead.
Scientific reference:Matthew S. Ganio1,2, Lawrence E. Armstrong, Douglas J. Casa, Brendon P. McDermott, Elaine C. Lee, Linda M. Yamamoto, Stefania Marzano, Rebecca M. Lopez, Liliana Jimenez, Laurent Le Bellego, Emmanuel Chevillotte and Harris R. Lieberman. Mild dehydration impairs cognitive performance and mood of men. British Journal of Nutrition (2011), 106, 1535–1543.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "Water's unexpected role in blood pressure control." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 July 2010.
British Psychological Society (BPS). "Bring water into exams to improve your grade." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2012. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417221621.htm
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