The importance of hydration for the body and the brain


Lindsay Benza '23

Hydration can benefit both athletic and academic performance.

Research shows that students and athletes seeking to improve their performance in the classroom and on the field should focus on hydrating themselves.  Dietician Mrs. Kate Ingram P’22 and Mrs. Christina Cauliffe, Head Athletic Trainer and Upper School Health Teacher explain how hydration provides benefits for academics and athletics.  Junior and student-athlete Laura O’Connor believes that through hydrating herself, she enhances her ability to focus and feels more energetic.

Drinking water prevents dehydration, which causes fatigue, headaches, weakness, and confusion, according to  Hydration provides many benefits to the human body.  These include regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, preventing infections as well as improving sleep and cognition, according to  Replenishing the body with water is also vital to the function of the human brain, heart, and other organs.  Additionally, the bones are made up of 31 percent of water and muscles consist of 79 percent water, according to 

The Harvard School of Public Health recommends that women consume 11 cups of water and men consume 15 cups per day.  Studies show that more than 50 percent of Americans only consume five cups a day, according to  To help people increase their water intake, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises carrying a reusable water bottle to refill throughout the day.  The CDC also suggests drinking water rather than soda, which contains high quantities of artificial sugars.

Hydration aids the human body by helping it function properly.  Courtesy of

Like all cells in the human body, brain cells require water to execute essential functions.  Poor hydration levels over time in women result in a weakening of cognitive tasks, according to  Additionally, research demonstrates that staying hydrated helps decrease anxiety.  In the long term, low water consumption can affect memory and concentration, according to

Mrs. Ingram discussed the importance of hydration for students’ minds.  She explained that a healthy level of water consumption improves the attitude and performance of students.

“It looks like there is a connection between hydration levels, concentration, memory, and test performance,” Mrs. Ingram said.  “There is an even stronger correlation with mood.”

Mrs. Cauliffe cites drinking more water as a step towards ensuring the well-being of student-athletes.  She highlighted the consequences of not hydrating.

“Benefits specifically for athletes include hydrating to replenish what you lost when you sweat,” Mrs. Cauliffe said.  “It helps to carry nutrients to and from different parts of the body and cells to maintain homeostasis.  A balance of minerals, electrolytes, and water need to occur constantly in order for the body to function.  Without it, cramping, headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and fainting can occur.”

Laura is on the rowing team, varsity swim team, and varsity lacrosse team at Sacred Heart.  She recently committed to the admissions process at Yale University to continue her lacrosse career after graduating.  Laura shared how staying hydrated helps her improve her performance as a student and as an athlete.

Laura believes hydrating her body helps her performance both on the field and in the classroom.  Courtesy of Laura O’Connor ’23

“I definitely feel better when I am drinking water and feel like I am able to complete whatever task I am doing,” Laura said.  “When I am not hydrated I tend to get headaches, so drinking water helps me feel all-around better during the day.  By drinking water, I am able to stay alert and focused during the school day as well as practice, so staying hydrated is important for any activity I do.”

Mrs. Ingram discussed how students can increase their water intake.  She also provided advice for making water a more appealing beverage option as well as recognizing that water-rich foods are another good source of hydration.

“You do not have to get all your fluids from water if you are eating foods with a high water content like watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, and soups,” Mrs. Ingram said.  “It is obviously important to avoid sugary drinks and foods that are high in sodium and caffeine because that makes you lose water.  Sometimes people complain that they do not like plain water so it is good to mention that you could add cut-up fruit, a squeeze of lemon, or some herbs like mint.”

Featured Image by Lindsay Benza ’23