One common piece of advice given after a session of bodywork is "drink plenty of water and stay hydrated!" This raises two key questions:
These questions are more complicated than they initially sound, as many variables feed into daily intake and outflow of fluids. What and how much you are eating as well as what and how much you are drinking inform intake, while temperature, humidity, activity, medication, and metabolic state inform outflow. These are not exhaustive lists of factors.
There are two ways to look at the signs and symptoms of hydration: Signs of dehydration and signs of hydration.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
All of these symptoms raise the real question: How much water should you drink on a daily basis? The most common number bandied about is 8 cups a day - 64oz of water, though experts disagree about this number for reasons related to the factors listed above.
What about other fluids? Alcohol in general is a dehydrating factor, getting more dehydrating as the proof increases. Coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages have a more minor hydrating effect than water, which decreases as caffeine content increases.
Multiple systems exist to track how much water you are drinking. Low and high tech solutions, from having a water bottle that holds a set amount of water and tracking how many times you drain it, to apps that grow virtual plants in response to you reporting the amount of fluid you drink.
Let your body be your guide. In order to change a habit, you need to know the current pattern. Paying attention to the symptoms above on a regular basis establishes a baseline. Once you know your baseline, you can identify the impact of drinking more water on your daily life and overall health.