Is tiredness a sign of dehydration?
Yes! Tiredness and fatigue are some of the most common signs of dehydration. In fact, GPs have estimate that approximately 12% of fatigue cases are linked to dehydration, a truly striking figure.1 Yet, despite the range of other symptoms that dehydration can stimulate, why does fatigue remain so persistent?
The answer actually makes sense when you think about it. Every single organ in your body relies on water: your brain and lungs are both organs that are primarily made of water and water is a key component of your blood. Actually, it’s this connection to your blood that can sometimes impact your energy levels during a bout of dehydration.
If you’re not getting a sufficient intake of water, it can sometimes cause your blood pressure to drop as your blood becomes more concentrated, and therefore more difficult to pump around the body. Now, low blood pressure might sound more favourable than high blood pressure, but if your blood pressure is low it means that oxygen-rich blood isn’t being transported as efficiently to crucial areas of your body, such as your brain and muscles – pretty important areas for healthy energy levels!2
Aside from directly causing fatigue in this way, you also have to consider how the other symptoms of dehydration can impact your energy levels too! In her blog, ‘How can you tell if you’re dehydrated?’ our Nutritionist Emma goes into quite a bit of detail about a variety of dehydration symptoms. I highly recommend that you check her blog out if you want to learn more but, for now, I’ll just list a few of the main other symptoms below.
Some of the other early warning signs of dehydration include:
- Feeling thirsty and lightheaded
- A dry mouth
- Having dark coloured, strong-smelling urine
- Passing urine less often than usual
- Poor concentration
- Mood swings
- Feeling cold
Can dehydration affect your sleep?
Earlier, I mentioned that I wouldn’t just be going over the reason why dehydration can affect your energy levels – I’ll also be exploring how it can influence your sleep patterns! My colleague Marianna, our resident Sleep Advisor, has also covered this topic more extensively in her blog, ‘Are you really tired or is dehydration making you sleepy?’. There, she mentions that chronic dehydration can actually impact your production of melatonin.
This is significant as melatonin, often known as the ‘sleep hormone’, is one of the main hormones involved with regulating your sleep/wake cycle. When your optic nerve perceives a visible lack of sunlight, it will relay a message to your brain indicating that it is now time you should be resting. In response, your brain will trigger the release of melatonin to make you feel pleasantly sleepy and tired, coaxing you into your bed for the night. If this cycle is interrupted, then you may experience problems with either getting to sleep or remaining that way.
Dehydration throws a spanner into the works here as it can gradually reduce your levels of the essential amino acids which are needed to produce melatonin.3 If an insufficient amount of melatonin is being produced, this means you won’t be enjoying plenty of nice, restorative deep sleep, thus the next day you are going to wake up feeling groggy, disorientated and exhausted.
How can I get hydrated quickly?
The NHS recommends that we all try to drink between 1.5 and 2 litres of water a day but this figure can fluctuate depending on a number of factors: how much exercise have you been doing? Are you already ill? Have you suffered from a bout of diarrhoea or sickness? Are you in a hot, tropical climate? As you can see, there are quite a few variables to consider! In general, though, I would try to stick to this rule and, if you feel as though you’re falling short, just check out a few of my top tips.
1. Plain water is always best
There really is no substitute for plain water in terms of hydration; the old ways really are the best ways! If you feel as though your energy levels are flagging, one of the best things you can do is reach for a glass of plain old H20. This is fast and extremely effective, trust me. If you don’t like the taste of water, though, don’t be tempted to substitute it with an alternative like flavoured or fizzy water. Instead, why not infuse your water with some fruit? Infuser bottles are widely available and are a quick and affordable way to give your water some natural flavour. If you need any more inspiration, please check out this recipe for some zesty Detox Water!
2. Avoid sports drinks, fizzy water, coffee and tea
Okay, so if you don’t like drinking water, you’re probably thinking ‘why can’t I just drink fizzy water’ or an electrolyte-rich sports drink?’. Unfortunately, these types of drinks can be problematic for a number of reasons – often they’re extremely rich in hidden sugars and sweeteners which isn’t good news for your waistline or your blood glucose levels.
What about a refreshing cup of tea or coffee? Well, if you’re feeling fatigued, a caffeinated drink is probably the first thing you’ll crave in the morning and at various points throughout the day. The only problem is that caffeine can act as a diuretic, which means that it can actually cause your body to excrete water rather than retain it. Obviously, this isn’t ideal if you’re trying to maintain healthy fluid levels, so try to keep an eye on how many caffeinated drinks you’re consuming.
So, thus far I’ve warned you to watch your intake of fizzy drinks, sports drinks and caffeinated drinks, so you might be wondering what on earth you should turn to when fatigue is starting to drag your energy levels down. I’d recommend trying our Balance Mineral Drink. Similar to many sports drinks, this contains a blend of electrolytes, such as calcium, vitamin D, potassium and magnesium, which not only helps to keep you hydrated but can also actively work to combat fatigue symptoms too!
3. Eat water-rich fruits and vegetables
If you’re familiar with dehydration you might already be aware that often, in response to poor fluid levels, rather than triggering a sensation of thirst, your body will actually stimulate hunger cravings. This is in part due to the state of your brain during a bout of dehydration – it certainly won’t be functioning at full capacity and your hypothalamus (the part of your brain that monitors thirst and appetite) can get confused.
Another explanation, though, could be that, if you’re not responding to thirst cues, you might be more susceptible to hunger pangs. You can actually get a certain amount of water from the foods that you eat, although usually this isn’t enough to completely rehydrate you. In a pinch, though, a few water-dense foods might just see you through which is why I’d suggest taking a look at my list of super water-rich foods below!
|| Water density (on average)
Quite an extensive list, as you can see, so you’re definitely not short of options. If you’re unsure of how exactly to incorporate these foods into your diet, though, don’t worry! Here at A.Vogel we have an enormous selection of recipes over at A.Vogel Talks Foods and, just to make things that little bit simpler, I’ve included a few of my favourite ones just to get you started.
Watermelon, Mint and Lime Cooler
Pineapple Ice Lollies
Cucumber and Avocado Smoothie