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You Can Smarter With Water

We get it. Despite the never-ending health benefits, staying hydrated may not top your daily to-do list. If you can’t get yourself to guzzle enough H2O, new findings might offer extra motivation: Drinking water can boost your brain power.

In a study presented Wednesday at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in London, researchers found that students who brought water into exams performed better than those who didn’t. To make sure they hadn’t simply concluded higher-scoring students are more likely to bring water into a test, they used the students’ past coursework grades to set a general ability control. So even among generally poorer-scoring students, bringing water into the exams boosted their grades.

“The results imply that the simple act of bringing water into an exam was linked to an improvement in students’ grades,” says Chris Pawson, a professor at the University of East London and one of the study’s co-authors, in a release from the British Psychological Society. For those of us who’ve graduated from the test-taking world, the same could apply for our cognitive performance and work productivity, in theory.

Smart Water, Naturally

The researchers don’t know if the students actually drank the water they took into the exams, or how much they drank, but their presumption is that the test-takers consumed at least some of the water they brought with them.

And while Pawson and his colleagues didn’t get to the bottom of why water had this effect on the undergraduates’ grades, they have some theories. Maybe water enhances thinking power, leading to better scores. Maybe agua alleviates anxiety and stress, both known to hinder exam performance.

Either way, add “it makes you smarter” to the long list of reasons you should be drinking water. It already has a reputation for regulating body temperature, flushing out toxins, aiding digestion, balancing blood sugar, and even helping you deal with seasonal allergies, to name a few.

The easiest way to drink more water is to have it in front of you. At your desk, keep a big cup next to your keyboard. (Just don’t spill it.) On the run, always take a refillable bottle. If the taste (or lack of taste) turns you off, flavor your water with slices of lemon or fresh fruit.