I was an insomniac for years. I was constantly exhausted, my diet was imbalanced, I was irritable and my family relationships were suffering.
It was affecting the quality of my life.
I had to start getting better sleep to avoid a downward spiral of social, psychological and physical consequences.
As I researched insomnia, I came across chronic dehydration as a possible culprit. From there, I learned how to drink more water per day and I started sleeping better!
Why You Should Start Drinking More Water Today
Get Better Quality Sleep
Are you having problems sleeping like I was? According to Insomniacs, an online magazine for people who have sleeping woes, insomnia can be caused by something as simple as dehydration. They say it can “create the kind of fatigue that triggers exhaustion yet leaves you unable to sleep”.
Perhaps the solution to your sleeping issues is just a few cups away.
Have a Good Sense of Wellbeing
Aside from improving your sleep, having a good hydration status can:
- reduce thirst
- help rid your body of toxins
- reduce fatigue
- decrease insulin resistance
- lower high blood pressure
- help maintain healthy skin
- promote smooth digestion
A 2011 article from Healthy Beginnings Magazine reports there “is an epidemic of chronic dehydration in the US due to our caffeine and alcohol consumption”.
Let’s not be part of that epidemic!
Unless you have a health condition that requires strict control of your water intake, it’s a good idea to make sure you learn how to drink more water per day.
Want to know how well- (or poorly) hydrated you are?
Take this hydration quiz from Healthy Beginnings Magazine to see if you are a “human raisin” or “totally fluid” (I was in the dried fruit category)!
How Much Water Do You Need To Drink?
OK, so you have decided to drink more water. You may be asking, “How much do I need every day?”
The common added eight glasses every 24 hours may not really be required. According to the CDC, “healthy people meet their fluid needs by drinking when thirsty and drinking with meals”.
That’s pretty basic, isn’t it?
It doesn’t require packing water away like a camel, or shuffling your work schedule to accommodate visiting the water cooler multiple times a day (and the subsequent need to, *ahem* visit the facilities).
You should drink extra water, however, when you exercise and during warm weather.
How to Drink More Water Per Day
Even knowing that you don’t have to consume a ton of water every day may not be enough to encourage you to drink up. What if you don’t often feel thirsty, and drinking water with your meal is not a pleasant thought?
Some people just don’t like water.
Don’t give up hope! There are a multitude of ways to increase your intake. Choose a few that sound doable and stick with the ones that work for you.
Any time we decide to make a change in our life, it seems like barriers can pop up to hinder our success. Rather than leaving it to chance, put some mechanisms in place so you are more likely to stick to your water consumption goals.
Pick Up Some Gear
Sometimes all we need to stick to a new habit is to have the right equipment. Drinking more water doesn’t have to be complicated, but there are a few items that might make it more enjoyable. Try one or more of these ideas to set yourself up for success.
Use a designated vessel
Having a water pitcher, bottle or jug in your kitchen or office can help you to monitor how much you are drinking throughout the day. If you want to know your intake down to the ounce, you can purchase a container with markings on the side or make your own with a permanent marker.
Make sure to use a container that can be easily washed–you don’t want to be tempted to stop drinking because your bottle is a pain to keep clean.
Try an infuser
You may like the idea of flavored water but be turned off by the associated floating debris.
I get it.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to enjoy *clear*, flavored water.
- Use a water pitcher with an infuser built into it.
- Pour your flavored water through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth into your water bottle.
- Make your own infuser bags by tying your cut fruit and veggies into a piece of cheesecloth. Put this bag into your water bottle for multiple uses.
Carry a travel-size bottle that works best for you
Let’s face it. Carrying water bottles can be a pain sometimes. They can be too small for practical use or too big to fit in a cupholder. If you don’t want to carry the bottle, you may not drink as much water as you need. Keep these things in mind before buying a travel size container:
- Choose a glass water bottle with protective casing if you don’t like using metal.
- Look for BPA-free plastic water bottles to avoid any harmful chemicals leeching into your water.
- Measure your cupholder so you get a bottle that will fit in your car without falling over.
- Select a model with a handle that is easy to hold.
- Pick a travel bottle with a built-in filter if water quality is a concern.
- Opt for a design that includes a straw.
Add Some Flavor to Your Life
Use fruit, veggies, herbs, spices and extracts
Infuse your water with fresh berries, citrus or apples, or go for more complex flavor profiles:
- Strawberries and almond extract
- Cherries and walnut extract
- Apple slices and cinnamon
- Peaches, orange slices and cloves
- Pineapple chunks, lime slices and diced coconut
- Cucumber slices and cubed honeydew melon
- Grapefruit slices and rosemary
- Watermelon cubes and mint
- Pear slices and sliced fennel
- Lime slices and cilantro
Mash berries to release more flavor, peel citrus to minimize bitterness and try sparkling water with any of the flavor combinations for a carbonated boost! Using any of the above combinations to make ice cubes works, too!
Drink Your Water Hot
Who says you have to meet all of your water needs with plain cold or room-temperature water? If cold weather or sensitive teeth are potential stumbling blocks for you, try drinking your water hot.
- Sip hot water with lemon or grapefruit to replace at least one cup of coffee.
- Add boiling water to a small amount of miso paste for a mild broth.
- Make yourself a cup of herbal tea. Choose spicy teas or add diced fruit to help you forego the sugar.
- Try this lettuce tea— it sounds strange, but it can help you stay hydrated and it may help you sleep better when taken before bedtime.
- Heat up some low- or no-sodium chicken, beef or vegetable broth
- Pour hot water over any of the infusion combinations listed in the previous section.
Create New Habits
Pavlov’s famous dog taught us about forming a subconscious connection between stimulus and response. Set up your own connections by associating drinking water with a specific activity.
Each time you wake up for the day, exit your vehicle, or finish a phone call, take in a full cup. Pick just one activity at first and add more over time.
- Drink eight ounces of water before drinking coffee, tea or soft drinks
- Have at least one serving between alcoholic drinks
- Refill your water bottle as soon as it’s empty. Studies show that we drink more when our glass is full.
- Pound a full cup in between episodes of your favorite TV show or Netflix binge session.
Take advantage of technology
Among the broad range of health and wellness apps are programs specifically designed to help increase your water intake. There are even apps with matching smart water bottles to keep track of how much you consume throughout the day.
I’ve tried a couple of apps over the years. Even when I haven’t followed them one hundred per cent of the time, I drank more water than I otherwise would have.
If you don’t want to download yet another app, you can use your phone to set alarms or send yourself text reminders.
Make S.M.A.R.T. Water Goals
Remember the S.M.A.R.T. acronym? It encourages us to make goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. It also implies making small but sustainable changes over time.
S.M.A.R.T. water goals could look like this:
- I will drink at least forty ounces (five cups) of water each day for one week.
- I will consume two full water bottles by the end of my evening walk today.
- I will replace one bottle of soda with the equivalent amount of water for the next three days.
Reward yourself for achieving your goal
Just as important as setting goals is keeping track of whether you meet them.
When you do, it’s time to reward yourself!
You can designate different rewards for increased levels of achievement. Using the first sample goal above, you could give yourself an hour of guiltless time on social media at the end of that week. After two weeks of meeting the goal, treat yourself to your favorite fancy smoothie.
Gradually raise the bar
After meeting the mark for a given amount of time, push yourself further. Increase the volume or frequency to reach optimal hydration status.
Don’t forget to set a reward schedule for this, too!
Remember that old commercial that said something like, “Some women perspire…we sweat!” It was based on the old-fashioned view that being ladylike involved sitting still.
Today, we know better.
Physical activity is an essential part of healthy living. Even the moderate exertion of walking 3 miles per hour counts. And exercise comes with built-in benefits…it makes you sweat and breathe through your mouth which, in turn, make you thirsty.
Include exercise in your water-consumption goals and you’ll be downing more agua before you can say Zumba.
Water While You Wait
You know what this one’s about.
Even with all the time-saving apps and productivity hacks available to us, we still play the waiting game in many areas of our daily life. It can’t be avoided.
One way to use that wait time wisely? You guessed it…drink up! You can down a cup of water while you:
- wait for your coffee or tea to brew
- wait for your meal to arrive when dining out
- wait in line at the grocery store or bank
- wait in the pickup line at your kid’s school
- wait for movie previews to finish rolling
Drink Your Veggies
You know that bottled vegetable juice in the produce section of your grocery store?
If you pick up a bottle, you will see that the water has separated from the rest of the components of the juice. And the water is a large volume of the whole bottle!
Why not include fresh vegetable juices to your drinking routine?
Bottled is okay, but there’s nothing like the juice you make in your own kitchen. If you’ve never tried fresh vegetable juices, I recommend you start with the sweeter ones first, and gradually add the less sweet veggies to the mix.
Here are some combinations to set you on your juicing journey:
- apple and carrot
- pineapple, carrot and ginger
- pear, spinach and kiwi
- orange, ginger and carrot
- apple, carrot and beet
Chew Your Water
Have you ever seen fruits and vegetables after they come out of a food dehydrator?
They look like sad ghosts of their former selves. That’s because the fresh versions of these foods are sometimes more than 90 per cent water! Part of your hydration strategy can (and should) include eating fresh produce every day.
Go ahead. It’s not cheating.
For the most bang for your buck, go for fruits and veggies that contain more water per pound (and are pleasant to eat raw). Here are ten to choose from:
- bell peppers
- citrus fruits
Whether you want to sleep better, look better or just feel more vibrant, challenge yourself to drink more water starting today. Here’s to your health!
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