news

Why being dehydrated is just as bad as drink driving.

You know how devastating drink driving can be but a new study has revealed that not drinking enough water could be just as bad.

Researchers at Loughborough University found that drivers who had only 25ml of water an hour made more than double the number of mistakes on the road than those who were hydrated.

The most concerning find? They made the same amount of mistakes as those who had been drink driving.

While it may seem shocking, Sydney-based Doctor, Sam Hay, is not surprised.

“From a sports perspective, people used to think there was a decrease in sports ability when you were five per cent dehydrated. Now they think there’s an immediate drop in performance of even just one or two per cent of body weight through fluid loss.”

“So if we extrapolate that to driving, which is an activity that can require a complex thought process, it definitely makes sense.”

“So if we extrapolate that to driving, which is an activity that can require a complex thought process, it definitely makes sense.”

Researchers found dehydration can cause impaired mental functioning, changes in mood and reductions in concentration, alertness and short-term memory. And while they are all important skills for driving, they are also vital skills for other areas of your life too.

“Dehydration can cause potential problems no matter what you’re doing, whether it’s at home looking after the kids, working at the office and especially if your operating equipment or heavy machinery”, says Dr Hay.

“Anything that requires decision-making or reactions, the consequences are far greater.”

What’s worrying is just how common dehydration is – and how easily it can be caused.

“For a 70kg person, a one per cent decrease in body weight (i.e through sweat) is a drop of just 700ml of fluids, so you can see just how easily dehydration can occur,” says Dr Hay.

Think it’s not you? Think again.

Water doesn’t have to be boring – here are some delicious flavour concoctions that you can create. (Post continues after gallery.)

ADVERTISEMENT

“Every single person is guilty of it most of the time,” Dr Hay says.

“Even me now – I’ve been to the gym and worked all morning and had just two coffees, I haven’t stopped,” he says.

He believes it’s a mixture of laziness, busy schedules and lack of education.

Mixed messages are partly to blame, with everyone having different ideas of the “right” amount of water to drink.

“Initial research suggested three to four litres a day, but that has often been debated,” Dr Hay says.

“The amount you drink is actually different for everyone and should be based on a number of factors – the climate, how your body processes fluid and how often you exercise.”

“I say if you are peeing regularly and your pee is clear or a light-green yellow then those are good signs,” he says.

“The amount you drink is actually different for everyone and should be based on a number of factors – the climate, how your body processes fluid and how often you exercise.”

Tips for increasing your water intake.

– Aim to have a large glass of water with every meal.

– Flavour your water! There are some delicious combinations.

– Put chilled bottles of water in the fridge.

– Enjoy retail therapy? Buy yourself a good looking waterbottle and ditch the disposables.

– Keep a waterbottle with you at all times – this will mean minimum effort to get yourself a drink.

Do you regularly suffer from dehydration? How many litres of water do you drink daily?

Dr Sam Hay is a director of a Sydney GP practice and a medical consultant on The Project and Embarrassing Bodies Down Under.

Want more on this subject?

Kyle Sandilands’ coconut water is being investigated as a sham.

Julie Bishop: ‘This is what our foreign aid budget buys.’

NEWS: Jodhi Meares has pleaded guilty to drink driving.

00:00 / ???