Hydration is one of the most overlooked areas for performance optimisation as a gamer. Its effect on cognition is far great that you may think.
Several studies have shown dehydration to have a negative impact on your mood, in particular, increased emotions such as hostility, anger, confusion, depression, fatigue and tension
In today’s gaming ecosystem players are taking training and competition to new heights with individuals playing anywhere from 8-15 hours a day. This is no surprise given the ever growing prize money that is associated with esports and the pressure to gain the competitive edge. Consequently, gamers continuously neglect their health and wellbeing without understanding the ramifications it can have on their performance and quality of life. One of the most common areas of health that is consistently overlooked in esports is hydration. Unfortunately, this is a big mistake.
Why is hydration so important for esports players?
Water is essential for human life and on average, it makes up around 60% of our total body weight and roughly 75% of total brain mass (1). Maintaining optimal levels of hydration plays a pivotal role in nearly all human functions (2) including:
- Weight management
- Renal and gastrointestinal function
- Joint lubrication
However, arguably the most important benefit of staying hydrated for esports players is the correlation that water has with neurological function (i.e cognitive function and mood). Dehydration (>2%) has been shown by a plethora of studies to significantly impair cognitive performance (3-6). This encompasses vigilance (keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties), working memory, attention and motor coordination (7,8) – all of which are vital for optimal gaming performance for extended periods of time!
Arguably the most important benefit of staying hydrated for esports players is the correlation that water has with neurological function
Mood and Tilt
As aforementioned, staying hydrated also plays a key role in your mood. Several studies have shown dehydration to have a negative impact on your mood, in particular, increased emotions such as hostility, anger, confusion, depression, fatigue and tension (7,8). These emotions are commonly associated with players that have become tilted which we know can significantly impair gaming performance. It is therefore vital that gamers maintain hydration levels in order to stay calm during training and especially during competition where the individual will be placed under greater levels of stress.
Tips for staying hydrated
- Aim for between 2-3 Litres a day (more if you are in the heat or exercising)
- Consume fruit and veg throughout the day, they contain water too !
- Stick to water. Although tea and coffee will contribute towards your total water consumption, they have other ingredients such as caffeine that may not be optimal at certain times of day.
- Little and often. Big doses of water lead to poor retention (going to the toilet more)
- Check the colour of your urine (darker = need to drink more water)
- Benelam, B. and Wyness, L., 2010. Hydration and health: a review. Nutrition Bulletin, 35(1), pp.3-25.
- Liska, D., Mah, E., Brisbois, T., Barrios, P.L., Baker, L.B. and Spriet, L.L., 2019. Narrative review of hydration and selected health outcomes in the general population. Nutrients, 11(1), p.70.
- Wittbrodt, M.T. and Millard-Stafford, M., 2018. Dehydration Impairs Cognitive Performance: A Meta-analysis. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 50(11), pp.2360-2368.
- Grandjean, A.C. and Grandjean, N.R., 2007. Dehydration and cognitive performance. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 26(sup5), pp.549S-554S.
- Vázquez, C.C., Sánchez, M.V., Sánchez, J.C. and Suárez-Cadenas, E., Dehydration, cognitive and skill performance in sport. Systematic review.
- Lieberman, H.R., 2007. Hydration and cognition: a critical review and recommendations for future research. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 26(sup5), pp.555S-561S.
- Zhang, N., Du, S., Tang, Z., Zheng, M. and Ma, G., 2017. Effect of Water Supplementation on Cognitive Performances and Mood among Male College Students in Cangzhou, China: Study Protocol of a Randomized Controlled Trial. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(9), p.966.
- Liska, D., Mah, E., Brisbois, T., Barrios, P., Baker, L. and Spriet, L., 2019. Narrative review of hydration and selected health outcomes in the general population. Nutrients, 11(1), p.70.