The Big Idea
Each night before you go to bed, get a pint of water and put it by your bedside. This is not to drink during the night (so you might need 2 glasses if you sip during the night). This pint is especially and exclusively to drink first thing in the morning when you wake up.
This idea is so simple, it’s hard to believe it can do so much good. But before we get into the science of why, in this case, simple is sensational, let’s talk about why it’s good to be prepared.
We have covered linking or stacking habits in more detail in our previous blogs. But as a quick reminder so you don’t have to flick back, our brain finds it much easier to do something new when we link it with something we do automatically already. So when we are trying to build new habits into our daily routine, it makes sense to ‘stack’ the habits – to do them at the same time or immediately before or after something that you do without thinking about it.
So a brilliant time to link a habit, is linking it to waking up – you certainly do that without having to think about it each day! The simple idea is that by having a pint of water by your bed as the first thing you see when you wake up, you will remember to drink it and re-hydrate yourself before you do anything else.
Certainly you could try to keep hydrated using a different method, however linking it to waking up means that there is very little to get in the way of actually making it happen. Many of us will have read articles about keeping hydrated and thought “right, I need to drink more water” and then promptly forgotten about it until we are thirsty – by which point you are already dehydrated.
Some of our testers swear by putting their morning water in a vacuum flask to keep their water cold and fresh. It may certainly keep the side of the bed looking neat! But however you do it, just do it. Here’s why…
Got it…What’s the Science
Our bodies have a neat trick so that we remember to drink enough water – we get thirsty! But what no everyone knows is that when you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. When we become dehydrated we feel tired, lethargic and sometimes moody(er). But there is more to it than that. Dehydration affects our ability to think.
There are many studies that look at the impact of dehydration on our performance and our thinking. We are going to choose just one – a super simple one (just like the tip!) In this study, scientists found that being just 2% dehydrated leads to a 20% decline in cognitive performance.
Yes you read that right. At 2% dehydrated you may not even feel thirsty, but you will already by 20% less clever than you on a good and hydrated day.
This is because thirst and even mild dehydration leads to the release of vasopressin a prohormone released by the neurones in the hypthalamus which is converted to arginine vasopressin (AVP). AVP in the bloodstream in turn increases blood pressure due to vasoconstriction which can also subsequently limit the amount of blood to brain active regions. Remember our brains are incredibly energy and resource intensive. If blood flow to a region is limited it limits that region’s ability to function. Blood flow to brain regions is what allows scientists using fancy imaging and scanning techniques to know what parts of the brain are involved in certain cognitive functions and so what affects say brain damage is likely to have on someone’s brain to function. AVP also leads to the release of a stress hormone cortisol and the stress responses which we know take blood away from the clever, creative part of our brain the prefrontal cortex (PFC).
This is particularly important for us first thing in the morning as when sleeping, we stop drinking water. – Even if you have a sip when you wake in the night, you are still using up far more than you take on through sweating, through excreting moisture when you breathe and through the making of urine in the kidneys.
Thus, because when sleeping we use more water than we can take on, it makes a lot of sense to rehydrate first thing – before you get moving and use up any more water. Perfect stacking timing! If we use the fact of waking up and seeing the glass or flask as a cue to remember to hydrate before we get distracted, we are drinking water right at the point we need it most!
There is an interesting vicious circle too. Some researches have found that dehydration can cause barriers to sleeping well – and insufficient sleep may increase the chances of being dehydrated! So whilst having a morning pint is certainly a good start, make sure that you remember to top up at other points in the day too. Perhaps there is another habit stack you could find that works for you? Maybe having a glass of water before eating a snack for example, or taking the first glass out of the dishwasher and filling it with water – and drinking it whilst you empty the rest might work?
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We got this top tip from a great coach that Iain and I both work with at People Untapped where we are both associates. Caroline Laycock runs a company which is all about helping people to be super-productive – check out more of her brilliance in our later habits – she has another couple up her sleeve!
LITERALLY THERE IS NOTHING TO NOT LIKE ABOUT THIS ONE – AVOID A 20% DECLINE IN CLEVERNESS AND START YOUR DAY HYDRATED -WHAT IS NOT TO LIKE?!