Is Dehydration Driving Your Poor Concentration?

Mild Dehydration Significantly Increases Driver Error and Fatigue.

maxresdefault 2The human body is made up of 65 to 70 per cent water. It is essential that we meet our daily requirement of water to maintain the health of our cells, to eliminate waste from the body, to regulate our body temperature and provide the body with moisture so that we can move our joints.

The recommended daily intake of water for the average active man is 2.1L (about 10 cups) and for the average active woman 1.8L (about 8 cups).

Statistics from the last Australian Census revealed that Australians on average are only consuming 1,064mL of plain water every day.

On any given day the research demonstrated that water only made up 50 per cent of Australians’ total beverage consumption. Soft drinks (Liquid Diabetes), alcohol and cordial contributed to 31 per cent of beverage consumption, 15 per cent was attributed to tea and coffee.

The remainder was made up of beverages that were not water based such as juice and milk drinks. These findings are disappointing and we could be doing more damage than what we might think.

Indeed chronic dehydration can significantly impact many activities that require our complete attention. Including driving…

It is estimated that approximately 1.2 million people are killed worldwide as a result of a road traffic accident. The largest cause for these accidents is driver error. According to Jerome Carslake, Manager at the National Road Safety Partnership Program in Australia, the most common cause of road fatalities and accidents that cause serious harm are fatigue, speed, distraction, and alcohol and drugs. Jerome revealed that a shocking 90 per cent of accidents are due to a minor mistake such as being a bit distracted or fatigued.

A study conducted by the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University in Leicestershire found that minor dehydration produces a significant increase in minor driving errors during a prolonged and monotonous drive.

To conduct the study 11 healthy males had to consume an intake of fluid that reflected the published dietary guidelines. They then took a 120 minute simulator driving test. The following morning the participants had to go to a lab fasted with an inadequate amount of fluid in their body. The men commenced the 120 minute simulation driving task for a second time an hour following a standard breakfast.  

The use of the simulator meant that the researchers could closely study and analyse the drivers, however, it is not certain how different the results would have been had the drivers actually been on the road. The study did reveal that even minor dehydration produced a significant increase in minor driving errors compared to when they were hydrated. 

Mild dehydration is capable of causing immediate symptoms such as headache, weakness, dizziness and fatigue. Both mental and physical performance are compromised when we have not drank enough water.


The Spinal Centre’s Comment:

Unfortunately many Australians don’t know how much they need to drink. Let alone drink the correct amount each day.

As we load this post, much of Australia is in the grip of an extensive heat wave. If you where laying eggs today – they would be hard boiled.

So… what are you doing about your water intake? Has it increased increased with the hot weather, and is it commensurate with your activity?

We are lucky to live in a country where clean, fresh water is easily accessible. Think of the many countries where this luxury simply isn’t available. So why aren’t we taking advantage of it?

Optimal water intake is one of the key ingredients to better health. Start your day with a couple of glasses of water. Before you have a coffee or tea. Or something galactically stupid like a ‘energy’ drink.

Our article, “Optimal Water Intake“, explains in detail the correct amount of water to drink and why you should drink it. You need to educate yourself on how much you and your family members should be drinking daily, and your body will thank you.

Getting into the habit of drinking more water is the hardest part, but once you get the hang of it, you won’t know how you did without it.

Have a glass of water before or with every meal – you will eat less and it is an easy way to drop weight.

Take a bottle full with you to work, and drink from it during the day. It’s surprising how easy it is to drink 2 litres a day when it is sitting right in front of you.

Encourage your children to do the same – often their lack of concentration and tiredness at school isn’t just due to poor diet or junk food; they are simply dehydrated. Praise them when they drink their designated amount, and ensure that it becomes a daily habit.

For more information on how much water you should be drinking, read the ‘Optimal Water Intake‘ article, and feel the benefits of hydration sooner rather than later.




Better Health –

Journal of Physiology and Behaviour – 

Australian Bureau of Statistics – 


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