How Hydration Affects Work Performance: Part 3 – Cognitive Abilities

4 mins read

While we could talk about the benefits of hydration for years, this article discusses how hydration can affect cognitive abilities and work performance.

It’s Monday morning and you’re sitting at your desk, bright eyed and cheery, thinking to yourself “I am ready and excited to tackle the busy work week ahead” – let’s be realistic; that is pretty much no one, ever. Most Monday mornings start with a sluggish pace and mustering up the motivation for the day ahead, never mind the entire week! Waking up our brains is one of the most important parts of our morning routine, as I’m sure you may have found (like me) that my brain is very important for work. Would you be surprised to hear that hydration levels affect your cognitive abilities? I sure was! Here is more information on how hydration can affect our mental and intellectual faculties.

Cognitive Abilities

Cognition involves a variety of mental processes such as perception, attention, memory, decision making, and language comprehension. Cognitive functions serve a critical role as they are used in everyday behaviour as well as social behaviour. For example, in one shopping trip you would use your cognitive abilities to memorize information about what to buy, make a judgement on the items you choose to buy, and to interact in an acceptable way with the retail workers. We are constantly using our cognitive abilities throughout our workdays to take in new information, solve problems, and interact with co-workers. So, how can hydration affect cognitive abilities?

Studies show that mild levels of dehydration can alter a number of aspects of cognitive function including concentration, alertness, and short-term memory. Mild to moderate levels of dehydration can also impact the performance of tasks such as perceptual discrimination, arithmetic ability, visuomotor tracking, and psychomotor skills.

Perceptual Discrimination:
The brain’s ability to accurately perceive information in a complex, fluid, and confusing situation. To accurately differentiate amongst confusable types of information.

Arithmetic Ability:
The ability to solve numerical and mathematical calculations. Also known as Quantitative Aptitude.

Visuomotor Tracking:
Motor control related to the planning of movement patterns. Coordination of a movement to an environmental event.

Psychomotor Skills:
Motor (muscle) action directly proceeding from mental activity. The relationship between cognitive functions and physical movements.

Hydration for Cognition

Who knew hydration could be the answer to improved work performance?! While it is rarely considered that water can help with work performance, understanding the relationship between hydration and cognitive functions brings perspective, as our cognitive abilities directly affect productivity at work. Living in as lovely a place as we do can leave us forgetting how truly lucky we are to access clean drinking water so readily. Next time you or a co-worker notices your intellectual faculties starting to fade at work, consider replenishing your water levels for that much needed brain boost!

Check back for more articles in this series on How Hydration Affects Work Performance”!

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