Hydration and its role in a Healthy Sleep Cycle

We all know that water is vital in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It does, after all, make up over 60% of the average man’s body. In your muscles that ratio is nearer to 75%, while in the brain it’s around 85%. With that in mind, it’s easy to understand how it can have such a pronounced effect on brain function, fatigue and sleep, among other things.
Your brain is, in fact, active for most of the time you spend sleeping. It uses this time to process information, collate memories and deal with stress and worry, which is crucial to your health. As each and every cell in your body is comprised largely of water, a deficiency will severely reduce your brain’s ability to complete the aforementioned tasks. 
It does seem a bit of a paradox, given that dehydration is the leading cause of daytime fatigue, that a lack of water will disrupt your sleep to the extent that it does. The reason is that, as mentioned before, sleep is not a period of complete shutdown as far as your brain is concerned. It uses the time well, and if it is unable to complete its nightly tasks due to a lack of water in the cells, it will wake you up to remedy that situation. It is important, however, to get the balance right. Too much water before bed and your sleep will instead be interrupted by bathroom breaks.
It should be relatively easy to spot the warning signs if you do run low on this precious supply. Early signs of dehydration, however mild, include chapped lips, darkened urine, fatigue, headaches and feeling hungry despite having eaten recently. If you regularly experience any of the above then adding a little extra water to your diet, whether gained through drinking or through water-rich foods, could do a lot for you.
So, how much water is the right amount? Health professionals recommend around eight 8oz glasses per day as a general rule. This should be consumed throughout the day; attempting to catch up by downing a couple pints of water before bed is futile as it will pass through you before your body can process most of it. There are, of course, many variables to this and the exact amount will depend on the individual, but this should serve as a guideline. From there, just respond to your body to find out what’s right for you. If 8 glasses still leaves you restless at night, try adding another glass to your daily consumption before reaching for the sleeping pills.

Sam Bonson
Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.

The Benefits of Natural Hot Springs

In many parts of the world, in fact anywhere they appear, hot springs are enjoyed for reasons stretching from relaxation to health to a spiritual significance. The warmth generated, along with the minerals present, do have a notable effect, but what exactly are the benefits of these natural wonders?

One of the more well-known benefits is boosted blood circulation. This is not, as you might think, purely related to the increase in temperature. Rather it is primarily due to the minerals, including calcium and sodium bicarbonate, which are present in the water. These minerals are soaked into the skin resulting in a boost to circulation and oxygen flow comparable to that generated by periods of exercise.
The same mineral-rich water can also help with certain skin conditions. The high sulphur content can ease the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis, while the abundance of silica smoothens and softens dry skin.

Another well documented use of these springs is pain relief, brought about by a number of different factors. The heat and minerals play a large role in relieving pain and fibromyalgia fatigue. This is further aided simply by the water’s buoyancy, which takes the stress off your muscles and joints, allowing for more freedom of movement. For those suffering from chronic pain, hot springs can be a welcome reprieve.

From there, you move firmly into the territory of balneotherapy, defined as the treatment of disease by bathing in mineral springs. Although the term would loosely apply to some of the benefits mentioned previously, many aspects of balneotherapy remain unproven. It has, however, been used as a part of natural medicine for centuries. For now though, more research is needed before we truly understand all of the amazing benefits of natural hot springs.

Sam Bonson
Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.

Breaking Down the Six Stages of Dehydration

secretlyhealthy.com

It’s thought that, in the US alone, around 75% of people aren’t taking in as much water as they should be. Thirst is fairly easy to ignore on a basic level, and with so many of us spending our working days hurling coffee down our gizzards before going out and doing the same thing with alcohol (both diuretics), it’s hardly surprising.

Dehydration starts out as a mild, manageable sensation, but if it’s allowed to progress unchecked, it can cross over into dangerous, and then life threatening. It’s difficult to assess how many people are killed by dehydration each year, as it has so many different circumstantial influences. Suffice to say, it’s far more common in poorer parts of the world, but it certainly also happens in the UK and US. Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to it.

How does dehydration actually play out, though? Well, it happens in six stages. The first stages are manageable, but certainly ignorable, as they can potentially phase into something far more severe. During the earlier part you’ll likely only be lacking 1 or 2% of your typical body water, but when it gets severe you might be down by as much as 10%.

1 – Thirst

Yes, this is the more obvious sign that you might need a drink. We’ve all been thirsty, it’s not a pleasant feeling, your throat dries, your mouth is coated with thick, sticky saliva, your swallow feels harder and you get worn out.

It’s easy enough to explain – your body is telling you that you need a drink, your lips are dry, so you salivate, your throat is sore because there’s less fluid to lubricate it and you’re tired because you’re lacking for the mineral energy which fluids provide. It’s that simple, really, you can ignore it, but it’s always better to just go and get a drink, no matter how chronically lazy you might be.

2 – Fatigue

This is the stage when you’ll start feeling genuinely unwell. Along with the increasing weariness, you’ll probably be contending with a nasty headache, along with an inability to focus on anything properly. If it advances further still, you’ll feel yourself break out in a cold sweat, and you’ll notice that your urine is a darker shade than before.

These are all signs that the dehydration has crossed over into more serious territory. The dark urine is the most obvious sign, the body has less water to expel, as well as use. The headache is caused your brain actually shrinking back from your skull, which in turn triggers the pain receptors. Once again, getting water into your body is the most effective solution here, but it’s after this that things start to become more complicated.

3 – Dizziness, Dry Skin

Usually this is the stage when people realise there is something really, seriously wrong. At this point the dizziness will become much more pronounced, and you’ll also start to become lightheaded. More alarmingly, you’ll find that, if you do start crying from fatigue, panic or both, you won’t be able to actually shed any tears.

The other thing which happens at this stage is what could potentially lead to permanent bodily damage – your skin dries out. If you’re unsure if this has happened, pinch your skin, if it doesn’t quickly reform once you let go, bad sign. This could cause permanent wrinkles if left unchecked for too long. At this point, water won’t do the job quickly enough, you need either an isotonic drink or fruit squash with a pinch of salt mixed in.

4 – Sunken Eyes

If the dehydration has been allowed to progress this far, you’ll barely be able to stand. Your eyes will darken as they draw back into their sockets and your nagging headache will have crossed over into sheer agony. Remember the cold sweats which started earlier? Well, you’ve also now lost a great deal of electrolytes through the sweating, which leads to further, greater issues.

Electrolytes control the transit of electrical signals moving up your nervous system to your brain. You may start to feel your stomach cramping up, the onset of nausea and when it gets really bad you may either vomit or experience diarrhoea, which is a big problem if you’re already so dangerously low on body fluid. Now you need to think about taking some kind of electrolyte supplement or rehydration sachet to deal with this.

5 – Low Blood Pressure

That’s it; you’ve dipped below 10% body fluid deficiency. I shouldn’t have to tell you why this is cause for very serious concern. At this point, there’s so little fluid in your body that your blood is even turning against you, leeching fluid from parts of your body that it really ought not to be. This, in turn, lowers your blood pressure, which will make your heart start pounding in your ribcage.

You will also likely start to tremor, and feel feverish. This is classed as severe dehydration, and it is a medical emergency. If you start to feel like this, call an ambulance, but in the meantime doctors recommend an ice lolly, as it will slowly release fluid (and sugar) back into your system. If you drink anything, you’ll puke it back up.

6 – Concentrated or No Urine

If you’ve hit this stage, you’ve gone through every warning sign and countermeasure your body could possibly take against dehydration, and you’re in very real danger of ending up dead. At this point, there’s so little water in your body that you either won’t be able to pee, or your urine will come out as a kind of concentrated, disgusting goop. As if that wasn’t enough, your blood pressure will have gone through the floor, which could easily cause you to pass out, and will also almost certainly induce a state of delirium.

Your electrolyte levels will also be dangerously low, and the salt levels in your blood will be dangerously high. This can lead to severe neuromuscular failure, seizures, oedema, coma and ultimately a very painful and undignified death. If you hit this stage, you won’t be able to eat or drink anything, you’ll need to be treated intravenously, seek medical attention as quickly as you possibly can, and try not to move.

Callum Davies
Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. 

Office Water Coolers – Do They Increase Productivity?

We’ve all heard the term ‘water cooler talk’, referring to office natter, and the installation of water coolers in office buildings or any other kind of commercial building is a logical undertaking, people need to drink. There’s a secondary benefit to it though – supposedly having a watercooler in your office can actually boost staff productivity.

Img source: BorgandOverstrom.com
That might seem like a contradiction in terms, given that if people are getting up to get water, or standing talking around the source of it, they are categorically not working, but as many studies have shown, short regular breaks during the day are highly beneficial for motivation. A trip to make a coffee or use the vending machine might serve the same purpose in that sense, but staffers pumped full of additives and coffee-flavoured caffeine granules aren’t going to be as reliable as the ones keeping a healthy intake of H2O. 
We are supposedly meant to drink 1.2 litres of water a day, which isn’t all that much, it boils down to somewhere between 5 or 6 glasses a day (depending on the volume of the glass, obviously), which is far easier to maintain if you have a source of cooled water within easy reach. A recent study carried out by the University of East London found that regular intake of drinking water actually improves focus, as the brain isn’t constantly reminding the body that it needs to be hydrated. 
They tested this by splitting 34 people into two groups – one which ate a breakfast and another which did the same, only with a glass of water afterwards. Performance tasks were then carried out and the results were consistently better in the hydrated group. In this way, having a nearby supply of water in a working environment can increase productivity significantly. One source said 14% but I have no earthly idea how you would go about quantifying that.
It’s not just staff either, having one of these in your waiting area makes a far better impression on clients, interviewees and other visitors who might come knocking, even if they don’t actually make use of it, it shows that you’ve taken their comfort and well-being into consideration. While there might be other water sources in the building, many people do not trust tap water, and many more still will hardly ever take the time to buy a bottle on the way in or fill one up at home. In this sense, without a water cooler, staff members may actually be less hydrated at work than they are at home. 
Most of the offices I’ve ever worked at have had watercoolers, and I noticed a measurable difference in my work output when I started making regular use of them. Better hydration is scientifically proven not only to increase energy levels but also to elevate mood, raise metabolism and generally turn people into more motivated, energised workers. 
In an office environment, it grants the added benefit of allowing staff to take mini-breaks from their desks and screens each time they want a refill. It might not sound like much, but once again it’s been deduced that getting up and moving around frequently can vastly improve productivity for desk-bound workers. In sum, yes, water coolers do increase productivity, significantly. 

Callum Davies
Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. 

 

The Science of the Dead Sea Explained

What is it exactly that makes the Dead Sea ‘dead’? Anyone who travels to Jordan or Israel will likely have the coast earmarked as a place to visit, so that they can try their hand at floating effortlessly on the surface. It holds the record as Earth’s lowest elevation on land, and it’s 9.6 times as salty as the ocean’s average, and the subsequent lack of life is what gives it its name.

The high quantity of salt is the result of the sea’s geographical nature. Unlike other seas, the Dead Sea has no outflow, its only tributary is the Jordan River, so the salt is trapped and thereby never decreases. There is some life, but it’s almost entirely on a cellular level; the water is too salty to support anything more complex.
That being said, recent research uncovered a series of craters on the seabed, around 33 meters wide apiece, which spew fresh water up towards the surface. Each one is covered with a filmy mat of bacterial life forms, previously undiscovered. Many other microbes thrive in the Dead Sea due to a high concentration of magnesium in the water.
The salt is also what causes the increased buoyancy; it will literally hold you at the surface. This also results in many pronounced health benefits. The high salinity, for example, is extremely helpful for sinusitis sufferers, as the water can be used for nasal irrigation. Dead Sea mud can be used to treat various aches and pains, as well as having numerous dermatological benefits due to its mineral content. Perhaps most interestingly, sunbathing in or around the Dead Sea can be good for psoriasis, because of the low elevation and cloud cover tempering the UV rays. On the flip side, swallowing Dead Sea water is something you want to be very wary of, doing so can result in inflation of the larynx, and getting it in your eyes leads to burning and in severe cases, blindness.
There’s one particular phenomenon that’s as fascinating as it is rare. The last time it happened was in 1980, during a particularly rainy winter – the Dead Sea turned red. This was due to an increase in fresh water changing the salt content, enabling the red pigmented hablobacteria to consume far greater amounts of algae not normally present in the water. The massive bloom in bacterial numbers caused the change in pigment, and led to some of the most amazing images of the sea ever taken. It hasn’t happened again since as the conditions likely have to be very specific.
Another slightly more worrying recent occurrence has been the opening of new, gaping chasms along the banks. The reason? The Dead Sea is actually receding at a rate of around 1 metre a year, largely because the Jordan River is being diverted, but also because of mineral mining across the southern coast. As fresh groundwater wells up, layers of salt are absorbed and subterranean cavities form. If they get big enough, the ground gives way, sometimes very suddenly. It’s almost impossible to predict when the holes will open up, and only vague estimates can be made as to where, although the Jordan Rift Valley has seen many of them, since it sits on a fault line. Plans are being put in motion to create a conduit between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea to alleviate this problem.

Callum Davies
Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop.