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How can dehydration affect our cognitive function?

Sport Psychology coach and author, Dr. Rob Bell shares his experience

How can dehydration affect our cognitive function?

I was going to attempt a 50-kilometer trail run. It was my first ultra marathon.  

This trail run took place in the mountains and was known for its difficulty in elevation change and also because of the muddy and off-balance terrain throughout.

This race was naturally hilly with over 8k of elevation and it ended up being hot, very hot. This race was also before my introduction to SOS Hydration. 

At mile 24, there was a rest stop where I was supposed to meet my family. Right before arriving at the much-needed stop, I vomited. I was so dehydrated at that point in the race that anything I consumed automatically came up. It was 85+ degrees outside and I had the chills, which was not a good spot to be in. 

Dehydration & the Mind

Being so severely dehydrated not only affected my body, but also my mind. It became difficult to think clearly and make logical decisions.

My thought process was so poor at this point in the race that I tried to convince my wife that our eight-year-old daughter could run the last 8 miles with me, and keep me straight. I seriously thought at the time that it was a good idea.

Dehydration can crush our cognitive ability to reason and solve problems. Just like our muscles need hydration, so does the most important muscle, our brain. 

The Solution 

Research recently confirmed how dehydration can impact our ability to think. Wittbrodt & Millard-Stafford (2018) examined 33 different studies with a total of 413 participants. Results revealed that even mild dehydration can impair attention, and motor coordination. As the researchers stated of the impact of dehydration: “Maintaining focus in a long meeting, driving a car, a monotonous job in a hot factory that requires you to stay alert are some of them. Higher-order functions like doing math or applying logic also dropped off.”

It can be difficult to diagnose dehydration, but if you experience issues during the day of not being able to concentrate or feeling foggy, chances favor that some SOS Hydration is needed. SOS Hydration helps increase hydration, focus, stamina & physical performance. It’s effective as an IV drip. From that race on, I now use SOS Hydration to combat any dehydration that I may face before, during, and after my training and races. It’s a game changer! 

People ask if I finished my first ultra-marathon. I did. This race serendipitously became the impetus for my newest book ‘PUKE & RALLY: It’s not about the setback, it’s about the comeback’. If I didn’t finish then the title of the book wouldn’t have ‘Rally’ in it! 

Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology coach, speaker, and author of seven books on Mental Toughness including: ‘PUKE & RALLY: It’s not about the setback, it’s about the comeback’. 

1- WITTBRODT, MATTHEW T.; MILLARD-STAFFORD, MELINDA Dehydration Impairs Cognitive Performance, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 2018 – Volume 50 – Issue 11

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