When the weather outside is frightful, the last thing you probably feel like doing is drinking a ton of water (especially when holiday parties and all their spiced wine and eggnogs are out in full force… well, until the morning after, that is). You’re craving hot, cozy beverages, and besides, when it’s cold, you don’t need as much water as you do when you’re sweating your socks off in the summer — right?
Not so fast, friends. It’s just as important to drink enough water in the winter as it is in the summer. In fact, you might even argue that it’s MORE important to stay hydrated in the winter. After all, think of how dry your skin gets in the winter, and how cracked your lips can be. Staying well-hydrated can keep your skin soft and glowing year-round. Plus, hydration is the foundation for all-around wellness, and it affects everything from your cognitive abilities to your muscle function.
First, let’s dive a little deeper into why it’s so easy to get dehydrated during winter.
Your body doesn’t feel as thirsty
When you’re cold, your blood vessels shrink in size to prevent blood flow from going to your extremities (your hands and feet) and conserve it in your core. It’s kind of a cold-weather heat hack until you get to a warmer space.
That’s all very smart of your body, but this constriction also tricks your brain into thinking you’re not as thirsty. Plus, when you’re cold, your kidneys don’t get the secret signal from your hormones to save water, and you actually feel like you have to go to the bathroom more.
So, your body is working hard to save heat whenever possible, but in doing so, it’s accidentally sabotaging you and preventing you from drinking as much as you normally would.
You’re still sweating… but it evaporates faster.
Think about all the layers you put on when you go outside in the winter; we’d estimate that during the Polar Vortex last year, it was never less than roughly a dozen different pieces of clothing. Layering is great for conserving heat, less great for conserving energy. Because off all of the added weight of your clothes, your body works up to 40% harder when you’re on-the-go, which contributes to more fluid loss and makes you more susceptible to dehydration.
Piling onto that, sweat evaporates faster in cold air — so much so, that you often don’t think you’re sweating at all, because it’s gone from your body so fast. If you don’t physically recognize you’re sweating, you’re less likely to realize that you need to continue hydrating.
You’re losing respiratory fluids.
You know how when it’s really cold, you can see your breath? What you’re actually seeing is water vapor escaping your body. More fluids leaving your body means a higher likelihood of dehydration.
Now that you know how easy it is to get dehydrated in cold weather, you can take action to stay happy, healthy, and hydrated all year round. Start by grabbing a reusable water bottle (preferably a large capacity water bottle with volume markings) and learn how much water you should be drinking — then make it your goal to drink at least that much per day.