The Totally Free Solution to Make Sleepy Afternoon Slumps a Thing of the Past

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At 3 p.m. on the dot, visiting the office snack drawer for a pick-me-up might be your go-to move. The afternoon slump is REAL, after all, and switching back into productivity mode once you've hit that wall can be as challenging 60 seconds of nonstop burpees. But according to a recent meta-analysis of 33 studies, regaining your focus might be as simple as visiting the watercooler or cutting up a bowl of ultra-hydrating fruit.

The body of H2O-centric research, published by Mindy Millard-Stafford, PhD and director of the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at Georgia Institute of Technology, indicates that even the tiniest levels of dehydration can affect factors like your mood and your cognitive functioning, reports NPR. And summertime weather is the worst offender: According to Doug Casa, PhD, kinesiology professor at the University of Connecticut, hiking at a moderate intensity for one hour or going hard on a 30-minute run could lead to 1.5-2 percent dehydration. "Most people don't realize how high their sweat rate is in the heat," he says.

The meta-analysis of 33 studies indicates that even the tiniest levels of dehydration can affect factors like your mood and your cognitive functioning.

To provide some much-needed perspective (because 2 percent kinda seems like NBD), the small-sounding uptick in dehydration is equivalent to sweating out about one liter of water. While the change is imperceptible enough to slip under your radar when you shower and head to work, Dr. Casa says it doesn't go unnoticed for your body or subconscious mind. For example, in one small study included in the survey, 12 women were asked to consume only six ounces of water per day, effectively dehydrating the group by 1 percent. Then, participants were asked to play a game that measured their cognitive flexibility. "When the women were dehydrated, they had about 12 percent more total errors," says lead researcher Nina Stachenfeld, PhD. After allowing the participants a much-needed hydration sesh, they returned to their baseline cognitive function, suggesting that hydration and #bossbabe actions are deeply intertwined. (Take note, though: The results of the study are limited, since the group was small and PepsiCo—which makes bottled water—funded Stachenfeld's research.)

So next time you feel the after-lunch sluggishness creeping up on you, take a moment to account for how much guzzling you've done that day. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine suggests that women need about 91 total ounces of water per day (about 20 percent of which comes from fruit), but your prescribed needs may be higher depending on your weight, muscle mass, and the amount of hours you spend in the sunshine.

And if you're wondering if a large cup of coffee counts, the answer is yes: A 2014 study suggested that those who drink coffee on the reg actually build up a tolerance to the potential diuretic effects. Although, your afternoon glass of iced matcha might be your jitter-free best bet.

Who knew? To make a splash at work, just add water.

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